Claremore Daily Progress

July 12, 2013

ROUND - When You Lived Behind Bars

Staff Reports
Special to the Progress

CLAREMORE — “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” ~ John 8:32 (NIV).

Clad only in a pair of plaid pajama pants, he crossed the street and walked down the alley behind a row of businesses. I was startled. As I approached the parking lot near the courthouse, I crossed paths with several deputies. Taking in the scene before me, I realized the barefooted man, whose arms clutched a few belongings, had been a prisoner in the county jail. He had been set free.

While I didn’t know the specifics of his story, the sight of this partially clad man being released from jail made me wonder about his background and his family. Didn’t he have someone who could have brought him some clothes? Was there no one who cared enough to bring him a shirt, pants and shoes?

These questions prompted me to call a friend whose nephew is in prison. The young man has a support system. His mother, his aunt and other relatives visit, providing him with the material things allowed while he serves time. More importantly, they give him spiritual support. The crime landing my friend’s nephew behind bars was disgraceful but forgivable. He broke the law.

Laws are made to keep our society safe from those who would do us harm. However, if we have not accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are in a prison of our own making. Locked in sin and a refusal to forgive, we might as well be behind bars.

Ultimately, each of us must make a decision. We will accept God. Will we accept what His Son did on the cross or continue to hide behind a mask of slavery to our sin? In “The Case for Faith,” former atheist Lee Strobel asked himself, “Did I want to know God personally-to experience release from guilt, to live the way I was designed to live, to pursue His purposes for my life, to tap into His power for daily living, to commune with Him in this life and for eternity in the next? If so, there was plenty of evidence upon which to base a rational decision to say ‘yes’ to Him. It was up to me-just as it’s up to you.”

When I discovered the power of God’s love and acceptance, I found freedom. When I began to seek Jesus in a deeper way, I learned more about the startling power of unconditional love and forgiveness. My life changed forever.

As I think about the choices I have made in the past, I know the best decision I ever made was to accept Jesus as my Savior. Beyond that, the next step was even more important-choosing to follow Him. Many people know about God, but they don’t take the time to know Him personally. As pastor and author Max Lucado says, many people are “close to the Cross-but far from Christ.”

Until we make the commitment, we are only hiding behind prison bars of our own making.

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