There are times when escape is not the will of God. We can bend our theology and our understanding of spiritual life toward the demand for freedom in all circumstances when escape is not always God’s plan. Some of the greatest manifestations of God’s power and expressions of His love are revealed when we are at peace when bound in the prison of a challenging circumstance or relationship.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are arrested after delivering a demon-possessed slave girl who was making a lot of money as a fortune-teller for her masters. After the girl’s deliverance, the slave masters incited a mob against Paul and Silas. They were beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer put them in the inner prison and shackled their feet in stocks.
In the middle of the night, a massive earthquake shook the prison. The cell doors opened and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer was awakened by all the commotion and assumed the prisoners had escaped. He was about to take his life with his sword when Paul shouted from his cell, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” As a result of the miraculous event, the jailer and his entire household were saved. Before daybreak, they were all baptized and the jailer took Paul and Silas to his home to care for them and feed them.
What most people miss in this story is that after receiving food and care in the jailer’s home, Paul and Silas returned to their prison cell to await the coming dawn. The next morning the city officials arrived having found out Paul and Silas were Roman citizens who were put in prison without a trial. They apologized and begged them to leave the city. An unrighteous attempt at escape would not have allowed the miracles and salvation that took place that night.
Before you try to escape from that place in your life where you feel trapped and wrongly accused, ask God what He wants you to do before you start developing an escape plan. Lay down your expectations and demands for freedom and wait for your instructions.
Before the earthquake came, Paul and Silas sat in a dark and damp prison cell in shackles praying and singing hymns as the other prisoners listened. Perhaps those two activities should be our first option instead of trying to plan our escape and miss a chance to be part of something truly amazing.
I am thinking the midnight prayers and songs of worship released something miraculous into the environment of the prison. That miraculous intervention would not have taken place had Paul and Silas thought a circumstance of life had the power to imprison them. They would continue to live as free men no matter where a life of obedience would take them.