BEHIND THE BARS?




BEHIND THE BARS?




Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. John 20:19-23;

Whatever keeps a man behind perpetually shut doors has practically confined him to a prison of sort. When a man chooses to stay continually behind shut doors without the courage to step into the open, it’s a sign that he’s lost freedom, he’s been caged one way or the other. This appears to be the situation of the disciples as recorded in the passage above. Immediately after Jesus was arrested and crucified, the disciples were all gripped by a terrible fear. The fear was so much that they completely lost all courage and boldness to walk in the open or gather in the synagogue as they used to do when Christ was with them. For many days, the disciples lived in palpable fear, all packed behind shut doors, surrounded by so much apprehension, uncertainties and gloominess about the future. It was in this condition that the risen Christ appeared to them.

Jesus perfectly understood the condition of the disciples and was willing to help them out. He knew they needed a new ray of hope, and was ready to impart them. The Lord’s appearance in actual fact was meant to inject them with confidence, assurance and courage needed to free and get them out of the hiding. The bible records that the disciples were filled with joy and enthusiasm when the risen Christ visited them in the room they were all gathered, but surprisingly, they remained still behind shut doors eight days after, when Jesus repeated His visit! John 20:26 says “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you”. It would appear the disciples, despite their initial encounter with Christ, wherein He empowered, imparted His Breath, and delivered definite mandates and authorities to them, they still did not have the courage to come out of the hiding and break loose from behind the shut doors they had continually kept themselves. But for how long would they remain behind shut doors? For how long would they choose to be confined behind the bars, which no one but they created for themselves?

Nothing cages a man in life like fear, fear is a cruel jailer! Fear is one weapon that is so effective in the hands of the devil against the children of God! It’s unfortunate that destinies of so many people have remained permanently behind shut doors, not because they lack anything or everything it takes to step out and break through, but because they’ve allowed fear to cage them. It’s extremely difficult for anyone that has been caged by fear to live his or her destiny or manifest potentials. It does not matter how much potentials, talents, gifts, endowments, capabilities and grace that a man possesses, fear can completely shut him down and keep him perpetually behind closed doors. Fear has torments!

Fear comes in different kinds and categories. For the disciples, it was the fear of the Jews that kept them behind the bars. For some other people, it may be fear of making mistakes, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of what people would say, fear of this…., fear of that…..To unlock doors that have been shut by fear, you must be ready to dare. Yes, you must get ready to dare! Fear cannot imprison you without your consent! To dare means to damn the consequence, to step out in the dark

The situations need not be perfect

It’s good to analyze the situation properly before taking steps. It’s also not unimportant to consider the pros and the cons of any intended actions, but then, nobody has ever recorded breakthroughs in life by mere analysis. It doesn’t matter how accurate the analyses may be, breakthrough never comes without taking the first steps. Ecclesiastes 11: 4 – 6 says:

“He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Truth is, the analyses need not be perfect or accurate before you step out or take actions. In my life personally, I have made some risky moves and embarked on certain projects that I would never have attempted if I got stuck with the analyses of the environment, circumstances and the options. All credits to God’s faithfulness and providence, I can safely say that most of those steps actually paid off and resulted in significant progress in my life.

You must always realize that you can’t be so sure of the outcomes or results of the steps you intend to take, and that’s why you must be prepared to take the steps anyhow, somehow. You can’t be sure it’ll work out until you begin to work it out!

Rise early before fears and doubts arise!

It’s dangerous to allow fears and doubts to rise up before you set out to pursue what the Lord has impressed upon your heart. Always rise up and make a move before fears or doubts begin to arise, because they will surely rise. Fears can indeed arise through your own mind as well as ideas, opinions and suggestions of other people. If you allow these to catch up with you, the little flame of eagerness and deposit of confidence you’ve got in your heart might be totally extinguished, and you may never make a move.

The best time to make a move is immediately you receive that nudge in your spirit. The nudge can come with a little enthusiasm or zeal about a particular step you need to take or something you should attempt to achieve. Once you have this nudge, you should follow it up with immediate steps and actions that will support what’s being laid on your heart. One example of a man who made it his custom to rise early before fears and doubts arose was father Abraham. Genesis 22: 2 – 3 says:

“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him”.

God instructed Abraham to take a weird step; I’m sure if Abraham had waited till daybreak, it would have been extremely difficult for him to take the bold step he took. First, his brain would have had more time and opportunity to do ‘proper analyses and evaluations’ of God’s instruction. In the process, he would, most probably, have had a change of mind because the instruction didn’t make sense at all. Abraham would have reasoned that the same God, who gave Isaac and promised to multiply him as the stars of heaven, could never have been the same person that would now request that the same boy be sacrificed, as this didn’t make sense.


In addition, If Abraham had not risen and set out early to take steps according to God’s instructions, he would be standing the risk of being persuaded or talked out of the step he was about to take. Opinions and reasoning of men would have introduced fears and doubts into his mind, these would have caged him, and he would have lost it forever. No wonder Abraham decided to rise up early! Just as father Abraham, you too should always rise up early before doubts and fears begin to arise.


The best way to face uncertainty is to face it!

On this divide of eternity, life and uncertainty are like Siamese twins that cannot be separated. We have no choice but to live with uncertainty! However, the beautiful thing is that life’s uncertainties are never meant to unsettle or put our hearts in trouble, they’re rather meant to push us towards total dependency and trust in the Almighty God whose hands control the known and unknown. Amen!

Acts 20:22 – 24 speaks of how Apostle Paul chose to respond to the uncertainties that surrounded his mission works and trips, especially the trip to Jerusalem at a time.

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God”.

Rather than being held back by fear of the unknown around the trip to Jerusalem at that particular moment, Apostle Paul decided to step out with courage notwithstanding the possible outcomes.

Undeniably, every human has this fear of the unknown, one way or the other. As individuals, we can however choose to face tomorrow with trust in God or fear and anxiety. Those who have trusted their entire lives into the hands of the Almighty God who controls and holds tomorrow in His everlasting arms, practically need not be afraid or anxious about what tomorrow holds. It is where trust in God is absent that fear of the unknown thrives.

Do exactly what Fear is trying to keep you from doing!

One surest way to confront fear is to do exactly what fear is trying to keep you from doing, period! The story of the four lepers as recorded in 2Kings 7:3-7 put pay to this truth.

“And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life”. 2Kings 7:3-7;

The four lepers were daring in their resolution; they decided to confront the situation by choosing to fall into the hands of the Syrians, their enemies. That exactly was the greatest fear that had kept the whole land of Israel under siege, which resulted in severe famine. No one ever dared to confront the enemies at the risk of their lives as did these four lepers.

It’s really interesting to note that the same twilight that the four lepers decided to take the bold step of stepping into the camp of the Syrians, was exactly the same time the Syrian armies fled as a result of noise of invisible chariots and horses that the Almighty God caused them to hear!

What if the four lepers had not dared to do what they did? What if they had allowed fear of the Syrians to keep them down? What if they had not done exactly what fear of the Syrian armies attempted to keep them from doing? The demarcation between a man and his breakthroughs in life is fear, once it’s broken down, nothing can stop the breakthroughs!


Be prepared to take risks

There’s an element of risk in every endeavor of life and adventure. This brings to mind a beautiful quote by Leo F. Buscaglia on risk-taking:

Risks

“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free”.

In the word of the scriptures, Proverbs 26:13 says “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets”.

The problem with so many people is that they concentrate too much on the question “what if it doesn’t work out?” And if it doesn’t work out, at least it’s better to fail in doing something than to succeed in doing nothing! You would never know it could work out until you’ve actually worked it out!

2Timothy 1:7 says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. Fear is NEVER from God; the Spirit that God has imparted into us is to trigger us to attempt great things in life. Amen!