This prison that I choose to battle with vigilance and intentiality and passion is the prison of DISCONTENT. It shows up in pure ugliness..frustration, whinging, complaining, whining, moaning, stewing, venting, snapping, brooding, ugliness. The bars and shackles of DISCONTENT are subtle and pervasive and I refuse to let it rob me in this season, this time, this moment….
Wisdom has challenged me to go back in my life and analyse this prison of discontent in my own story. look for the familiar signs and see what I can recognise.
There are a number of seasons in my life where I have found myself shackled in this all too familiar prison of discontent.
I well remember the shackles of singles-ness.
When I was in my 20’s, being single was like a scourge. If you didn’t have a husband on the horizon or a boyfriend or someone to like it was truly devestating. some if my friends walked away from God because these shackles were so painful and frustrating. Why oh why do we allow ourselves to live wishing for something we don’t have instead of living joyful where we are? as much as I love the message of Jeremiah 29:11 it built a false sense of hope in the future at the cost of living liberated and free right in that time and season. I also genuinely believed that I needed a husband to make give me feel valued in minsitry. I remember going to 8 weddings back in 1995/96 summer and there was no husband on the horizon).
Then there were the shackels of young motherhood (when my kids were little and I felt housebound and lonely), the discontent often fed by my inadequacy was the challenges of doing my best but feeling that I was not enough. A season of grief got extremely frustrating especially as the season took some time to pass, the grief through death and the grief of broken relationships… <a place you can not escape or move on from until it's time) ; then there were others…the prison bars of a broken heart ; the shackles of dissapointment, a bad work environment ( I remember working with two women who were like the inmates from hell); there are shackles of someone else's choices…or the result of an unsafe environment (abusive or otherwise). I know there have been difficult moments in my marriage that made me feel the shackles of married-ness, there is alway busyness, ministry, my to do list, sickness, loss, grief, rejection, offence, betrayal, abandonment, a shattered heart….Even Melbourne and living in Victoria has pushed me behind the bars of this all too familiar dungeon called discontent. The call of God on our family has the capacity to make me feel shackled and imprisoned.
I sound like I am complaining but I simply reminding myself that life is not meant to be lived like a prison sentence yet chunks of my life have been lived that way. Paul's chains were real. He spent vast chunks of his ministry life in prisons, dungeons, house arrest but his circumstances did not imprison his heart, his attitude, his faith, his passion for Jesus and serving Him. Paul is the best candidate for teaching me how to bust out of these shackles.
When lunches need to be made, dishes are piled up In the sink, laundry needs sorting, no one has emptied the dishwasher, the dog need feeding and the cat needs worming, a call needs answering and I just want to sleep… I want to be prepared .. I want to step into days like this and be aware of what the enemy is going to use to shackle and impound my heart…ANYTHING…He will use ANYTHING…even the good!! Today I am preparing for ANYTHING because I know that the enemy can use ANYTHING to take me to that place: DISCONTENT. The beauty is that God can use ANYTHING…that's it. Can I face ANYTHING and EVERYTHING without being incarcerated? Can others see me face ANYTHING and want what I have, because they can see and feel freedom instead of only seeing my shackles and prison bars.
Soul today: embrace what is coming ..it doesn’t define you…Christ does. Don’t despise this season’s demands and rhythm. It is here you learn to see past the demands of your ANYTHING.
Soul! On the days you are tempted to resent where you are …look to Jesus… Rediscover freedom!
Soul as you journey through Philippians recognise the potential of prison moments and use them to bring strength to others. I thank you that you are going to use Paul, his example, his words, his character to help me find and discover you more ‘freely’.