The Upper Room devotional reflection for Monday, October 26, 2020 comes to us from Nicholas Patterson of Florida
John 8:34-38 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
I am in prison, but I am more free now than I was prior to incarceration. Though I was a pastor, worship leader, and staff member in several congregations, I lost touch with the God I shared with others. Through a pattern of destructive choices and the desire to be seen as successful, I lived a double life that came crashing down and hurt many people. Because I never slowed down or paused to listen to God, I became callous to my own sin.
I now realize that I had built my life around my own desires and not on the solid foundation of Christ. Since my incarceration, my parents have died, my children have been adopted, and my wife and I are finalizing our divorce. In the last few years, the life I built has been torn down. It has been painful, but sometimes we have to let go of what we hold dear and cling to God instead. Jesus said, “Come with me … to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31, NIV). I never imagined that for me that place would be prison. Here I have learned to listen to the Lord.
None of us can go back. But we can all look forward to what lies ahead. We can choose God today and every day. Trusting God each day is living in freedom.
Prayer Focus: Those who are incarcerated.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the freedom that you have given us through the life, death, and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thought for the Day: God can set me free.
— Nicholas Patterson
Although I have never been incarcerated, the message I hear from Nicholas Patterson is a reminder that sometimes I imprison myself with expectations and preconceived notions. When I realize this kind of imprisonment, it is imperative that I trust God to lead me out of my blindness into the light of grace.
Have you ever experienced this kind of imprisonment?