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Inspirational Articles by Lygia Lovelace

 

Incarcerated Irene

 

 

No matter how hard she tries Irene just can't escape the prison she's in. Who knows if she really wants to. She's been there so long, now it just feels like home.

 

Bars don't surround her, but mirrors do. She doesn't see past herself and her own little world…her own problems, her own agenda. She doesn't know what she's missing. Perhaps she doesn't care.

 

Do you know her?

 

In a conversation, she does most of the talking. Surely you want to hear every intimate detail of her life? But when listening to your deepest thoughts, her eyes glaze over into oblivion as she absent-mindedly shakes her head as if she's listening.

 

But you know she's really not.

 

Try not to be too hard on her. It's just that she can't hear you. She's imprisoned right where the enemy wants her to be.

 

Have you ever been there?

 

I have. Probably you have.

 

Hannah was there. She was a young woman taunted constantly by her husband's other wife. Oh, how Hannah longed for a baby! She became consumed with this desire, to the point of her beloved husband asking…

 

"Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons…?" (I Samuel 1:8).

 

Hannah did not respond…she couldn't! This prison of self-absorption and unfulfilled dreams is not one for reaching out. It's confining. It's solitary.

 

It's selfishness.

 

When Jake left our home, now fourteen years ago, I was heartbroken. We had loved and cared for him for over a year -- from the time his birthmother gave him up, at two days old! Surely God wouldn't take Jake from our home and give him back to a woman who had nearly destroyed him with her addictions! But the courts ruled in her favor…ultimately we knew that it was God's decision. Even though we didn'tunderstand.

 

We kept Jake until the very last possible moment. God provided, even in our sorrow. That very same evening, August 26, 1996, I went into the hospital to deliver little Chase.

 

Oh, I was delighted when Chase was born! But I was imprisoned within my walls of mirrors. Hurting, angry, indignant, selfish…
We step into this prison quite innocently, you know, as David did so long ago when he grieved over his own son Absalom.

 

Absalom…who had fought against his dad, threatened his dad, slandered and sought to destroy his dad.

 

Absalom was killed in battle. David's own warriors were forced to kill David's son just to protect their king.

 

Absalom's death devastated King David:

 

"O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you-O Absalom, my son, my son!" (II Samuel 18:33)

 

He was broken for his son, of course. He must have thought… If only I had done things differently! He just couldn't get over it! He refused to let go of his grief and he became incarcerated. Self-absorbed. Despairing.

 

Finally Joab, David's army commander stepped in and confronted David. He knew his words of honesty might perhaps cost him his life. But he could no longer be silent:

 

"Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you! You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now" (II Samuel 19:5-7).

 

Well, it was a wake-up call for David. He refused to stay incarcerated any longer. He left his prison of mirrors and went to his men.

 

But what about Irene? Is there any hope for her? True, she's had some "hard-knocks" in her life. No one would fault her bitterness or regret or self-absorption.

 

But no one likes to spend much time with her, either. She's abrasive. Her moods are dictated by her circumstances. She's full of self-pity. She's unpredictable and self-centered.

 

The really sad thing is that she has heard sermon after sermon on trust and joy, renewal and depending upon God. She decides to let go of her problems but that only lasts for a day, or two, and then she's incarcerated again.

 

Does she enjoy her imprisonment? One might wonder…but perhaps it's just that she's comfortable there. She's been there most of her life.

 

Is there hope for Irene? There was for Hannah. True, God granted her heart's desire. He gave her a son! But within a short time, she gave little Samuel back to God. She left him in the temple with Eli. And she was willing. Because she was changed.

 

The very thing that she wanted more than anything in life…she gave away as a gift, to Him.

 

And what about David?

 

He, too, gave up his son. Oh, it was hard! His quest was quite different from Hannah's! David's son was not a God-follower…he didn't even love his own father…David hated to see Absalom's life come to an end in such futility.

 

Life without God is indeed meaningless…death without Him is so tragic.

 

And David had to give Absalom up in this way. Losing a loved one to eternal death is indeed the hardest loss of all. Those mirrored prison walls threatened to enclose him! But he stepped away. Whether he truly felt like it at the moment, he followed God's call in his life. He stepped up to his responsibility. He refused the moaning, groaning voice of the enemy, calling him to self-pity. Calling him to remorse, to grief. Calling him to incarceration.

 

And he allowed himself to be free…to be changed.

 

There's hope for Irene. But no one can pull her away from her confinement. Leaning on the Father, she must free herself. She must place her eyes on the One who truly matters.

 

I left my prison, finally, but it wasn't easy. With Chase in my arms, I stepped away, leaving Jake in the Father's arms. It was excruciating, but it was crucial. Sometimes I look back. Sometimes I wonder "what if." Sometimes circumstances threaten to imprison me once again. But I don't like the reflection I see when I am enclosed in a mirrored dungeon…when I am incarcerated.

 

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…Col. 3:3

 

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall, I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

 

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him" Lamentations 3:19-24.

 

And what about you? What hurts you today? Are you facing possible incarceration, or are you already there? Beyond those walls of mirrors, there are different reflections for you: ones of hope, reflections from the Father. Oh, how He loves you.

 

Be free.




 

 

Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com




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