DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Prison and the Prisoner
From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:
Thomas Costain wrote a book called The Three Edwards, and in it he tells about an historical event from the 14th century. Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, were bitter enemies. Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle.
But this was no ordinary prison. The room was relatively comfortable and there was no lock on the door – no bolt, padlock or crossbeam. Raynald, though a prisoner, was free to come or go at will. In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that Raynald walk out of his cell.
There was only one problem: Raynald couldn’t walk out of his cell. The door was smaller than a typical door…and Raynald was enormously fat. He was so fat that he could not, no matter how much he squeezed and heaved and pushed, get himself through the doorway to his cell.
So, in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he only had to do one thing: lose weight. That would have come easily to most prisoners that were fed bread and water. But it didn’t come easily to Raynald. Edward has disguised a great cruelty in his apparent act of generosity to Raynald. Every day, Edward had Raynald serve the richest, sauciest foods, sweet and tasty, along with as much ale and wine that Raynald could drink. Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and fatter. He spent 10 years trapped in that unlocked cell, and was freed only after Edward’s death. By that time, his health was so ruined that he died soon afterwards.
As I read this tragic story, I was struck by several truths:
FIRST: Satan takes us prisoner by capitalizing on our desires, weaknesses and tastes. He doesn’t need to create those things in us, he just takes advantage of our appetites. And then he sets out to do his best to see to it that we stay sated with the pleasures of sin.
SECOND: Raynald had a choice – he could only eat as much as was truly necessary, he could have exercised in his cell, and he could have walked through the cell door after losing enough weight. But Raynald was too fond of his sweets and tasty delights – thereby becoming his own warden, held in a prison only by his own weaknesses. The same is true for us – Satan can’t keep us in the prison. It is our choice – to continue to smother ourselves and indulge in our passions and sin, or to leave the prison behind.
THIRD: We think that the things we long for in our human nature are what will make us happy – that if we have enough of something, then we will be free at long last, not realizing (or at least not admitting to ourselves) that we are only perpetuating our imprisonment. Freedom awaits us outside the imprisonment of our desires. What would you rather have: freedom or another piece of cheesecake?
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross. – Jesus
PRAYER: Father, our hearts and stomachs and eyes lie to us about what it is that we really want and what it is that is really good for us. Give us the strength through Your Spirit that lives within us to deny ourselves for that which is far better and which will never fade away. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.