The Cruel Prison
by Lygia Lovelace
It was just a small room with
a hole in the floor. Twelve feet deep into the ground, his
cell was unbearably dark. There was nothing for him to do
but to be alone with his thoughts.
How had he landed here? Over
and over his elderly mother had told him of the miracle
of his birth -- how his father had been approached by an
angel of the Lord, how in his unbelief Zechariah had stopped
talking until the baby was born.
Over and over he himself had
preached the coming of the Messiah and the certain coming
judgment of those who refused to repent. A message of doom?
Perhaps -- to those who refused to listen. A message of
hope? Most definitely.
Time and time again he had
seen God at work! As the people had jumped into the waters
to be baptized, he had seen changed lives! He saw fear and
doubt and even apathy washed away by the message of repentance
that gushed from his mouth when he spoke to the people.
He had been amazed! He knew the words were not his own.
And the people had responded…
The common people, that is.
The religious leaders -- the ones that were supposed to
know the Scriptures -- well, they were not so easily cleansed.
But look where he was now.
And why? Because he had spoken the truth. He had spoken
against sin and evil, and he had made Herod mad. One long
oppressive year he had been here…a very long year. He honestly
felt his days were numbered.
But Jesus ministry was going
strong. That was as it should be. Aloud he spoke into the
darkness, remembering his words from months ago…
must increase, but I must decrease.
The sound of his own voice
startled him, and despair threatened to engulf him. The
darkness! Why the darkness!? Oh, how he longed to be free,
in the outdoors, again -- to feel the wind brush his face,
to smell the coming of rain, or to feel the dusty ground
beneath his feet. How he longed to sleep underneath the
stars, to feel the Father so near, so embracing, so comforting!
This life of imprisonment was not what he had expected from
his life. Was this even fair?!
Somehow he must get word to
Jesus. After all, Jesus didn't preach a message of judgment.
Jesus' message was one of love. He could sure use some love
and encouragement. But…was his cousin really the Messiah?
Perhaps another would come -- one that would ride in as
a mighty warrior, and defeat the power-hungry Romans…and
the power-hungry religious leaders.
Oh how he longed for God's
kingdom on earth! Was Jesus really the Christ? Admittedly,
he had doubts…
How would Jesus react to his doubting?
He didn't care. He just needed
reassurance. He just needed to hear some words of hope --
to see some evidence of God's plan on earth. Was that too
much to ask?
He knew what he would do. I
must send some of my own men to Jesus…
Have you ever felt like John?
Have you ever been locked in a cruel prison -- one of oppression
-- the enemy's torture chamber for the children of God who
truly follow after Him?
Do not be discouraged, child
of God! Heed Jesus' words of long ago -- Jesus words to
his own cousin. They were words of understanding, words
of compassion, words of truth…
back and report to John what you hear and see:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy
the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is
preached to the poor.
Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of
When you are oppressed, when
Satan is coming against you…remember! Remember what God
has done in your own life. Remember what you have seen
Our little friend was barely
12 years old when she embraced Christ wholeheartedly in
our home, several years ago. At first, she knew nothing
about the Bible, but as she began to read and study, she
began to ask questions and learn. We didn't have to give
her a Bible. She already had one. But, she said, she had
never understood it.
Until she accepted Christ.
Then she couldn't get enough
of God's Word! It was written just for her. "Do you
have more Bible studies?" she would ask whenever we
She brought her friend to Bible
study. Her friend, too, became a follower of Christ. She,
too, picked up God's Word and began to read…
(The blind receive sight…)
She was more than 60 years
old, attending a women's Bible study some years ago…
"I can't believe I almost
didn't come to this study! I mean, I never knew I could
read God's Word for myself…now I know! I am learning to
walk, day by day, with Him. I never knew that was possible,
you know? I just thought God was way up there, and we are
here…and well, now, I understand what it means to daily
walk with the Father. I can't wait to get up every morning
to open His Word!
(the lame walk…)
The sickness of the world had
nearly taken over this young lady when we first met her.
Apathy was the last straw that was sending her soul to the
grave. When she heard the Gospel, she just couldn't stay
seated. A total transformation of purity and health permeated
her whole being.
A total transformation.
(…those who have leprosy
Her daughter came to Bible
School. As we talked about Jesus death and resurrection,
this preteen began to ask countless questions. Even after
class was over, she would linger, asking more questions.
On the last day of Bible school, this girl's mother came
to our door.
"You don't know me, but…well…my
daughter has been telling me about those stories from the
Bible. I just didn't know all of that! Do you think you
could help me to get a Bible? I'd like to read more
about Jesus for myself…"
(…the deaf hear…)
Oh Blessed Savior! When I was
9 years old You spoke to my own heart, so clearly that I
could not keep silent! I remember, even as a child, that
life of loneliness without You. You came into my life, and
I marvel at the companionship I've had with You all these
years. I can't imagine living life on my own, without Your
presence, Your parenting, Your Word.
Oh Blessed Savior! Thank you
for my salvation. Thank you for rescuing me, for raising
Thank you for giving me life.
(…the dead are raised…)
As she grew older, she didn't
talk so much about her money. Her fine antique furnishings
grew dusty and neglected. Her children grew up and moved
away, her husband died. All the money in the world couldn't
buy the peace and fulfillment she longed for -- she had
always longed for.
That's when she began to try
"church." She heard the Gospel. She realized,
shockingly, that all those years when she had more money
than she could spend, she was really poverty-stricken. Her
true riches were obtained at the Father's throne of grace.
She was finally rich. She was finally at peace.
As she grew older and older,
her heart grew sweeter.
"I'm so thankful for growing
old," she told me one day. "It has slowed me down
long enough for me to stop and realize what's really important
in life." Her voice trembled as she continued, "I
don't have much more than my daily bread now, but I am the
richest old lady there ever was."
(…the good news is preached
to the poor…)
Oh, my friend, how are you
doing? Are you locked in Satan's cruel prison -- tormented
by doubts, discouragement, and warfare -- just because you
are trying to live a life pleasing to God?
Send word to Jesus. Do you
know what He would tell you?
blind receive sight! The lame walk!
Those who have leprosy are cured! The deaf hear! The dead
And the good news is preached to the poor!
Remember! Reflect on what God
has done in your own life and in the lives of others around
you. Do you remember the daily miracles? Do you remember
the healings, the raisings? This encouraged John the Baptist.
This will encourage you.
Do not fall away. More miracles
are yet to come!
And oh, how He loves you.
Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace.
All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com