Sermon #106: The Prison of Life - The Escape Route

The urgency of it not only besieged me; its intensity also took me by surprise. I wanted to let a loud scream out, to release the pressure, but it jammed midway along my throat.

It was something that I needed to do, one thing I eagerly wanted to be, something that I had eagerly waited for; and it was time, a 'now or never'. I could no longer continue to live the same way. In short,  I needed a break, if life was to have even a semblance of meaning.

My eyes shifted to the handcuffs - cold as ice, slowly eating into my wrist-bones. Drops of sweat covered my palms, and my brow was no different.

I looked at my legs -  the leg irons were still in place, ironically shining and determined, evidence of what I had been all these years. Oh how I detested the shackles!

“Oh God I want out!” I eventually managed to send out a cry that pierced the quietness, unsettling even me, as my soul longed for a breath of fresh air. Walls on every side, threatening gullies every step of the way, vigilant predators; for me it was nothing but the prison of life.

As I pondered my next move, I observed that I had grown one dread lock, its roots etched in the desert of my skull. As I continued to watch, one more sprouted. Soon my head was all dreadlocks, all green, life’s oil and power, so I guessed.

A whirlwind blew around me several times, lifting my chest and sending me gasping for breath, and in their trembling, my hands displayed shimmering muscles, evidence of new strength acquired.

With one hand on the Eastern wall and the other on the Western, Samson-style, I brought my enclosure down; in one, mighty thrust it had all turned to dust. He is able!

As I sauntered out of my debris, my feet touched soft ground. I felt like something heavy had dropped off my shoulders. I also felt like I had jumped from a spider’s web, but landed softly, if only to give me the opportunity to recount what happened.

I lifted my hands high. Pure praise; the delight of the soul. What a new order of things! How lofty He had lifted me! I began to jog; it just had to be - for it was time.

Then a sweet smell of perfume filled the air; the kind that could come only from mature flowers. A wind blew gently, sending the leaves hissing, my soul rejoicing. Sweet beaky sounds invaded my privacy. The beauty of freedom under the sun!

I looked at my shoes, then at my clothes. They all told the story, the complete and uncensored story of my life. 

“I sure have been travelling; a long journey, through valleys and thickets, and it shows,” words escaped my mouth. As I stood, with my mind I took a picture of self; a picture that was soon to be the only one of its kind.

And as I stared at the picture, a voice cut through the silence. “Is that you, Phanuel?” the voice asked with absolute and unmistaken clarity.

My ears picked yet another sound. Although I could not tell what it was, I could tell the direction from where it came.

At once, I waded through the lilies and the budding bushes, and there before me slithered a small stream. The ease with which the water flowed, the purity and the peace there was! After spending ages in the muddy waters of life’s prison, the kind that could easily define a people, the stream brought with it a refreshing change.

I was dying of thirst; I also smelled of sweat.

I bent down to drink from the stream, but something immediately caught my attention, stopping me before I took the first sip.

Hastily I stood up, gasping. What an ugly sight! My face; I had seen my face in the water! All the time that I had languished in prison I never had the chance to look at my face; neither did I have the means. All I ever did was imagine it.

The cracks, the wrinkles and the paleness that I had seen in the water astounded me. “Is that you, Phanuel?” “Oh God, I wish it wasn't me!” I cried out. “But that’s me my God; that surely cannot  be me!” I added, struggling to give sense to the contradiction.

It was time. I stooped once more and with eyes closed drank until I was full. After doing so, I felt as though I had become one with the stream, a constant, tranquil flow of amazing beauty.

Time for a complete bath, a deep one! I discarded every old piece of clothing. Water violently splashed to the edges of the stream as I took a dive. I spent so much time under the water that I came out ‘waterlogged’.

As I emerged from the stream, my soul watched in wonder as the desert traced its foot-marks back to source.

After applying skin lotion and putting on a set of clean, freshly-pressed clothes, I once more stood in front of the mirror - this time tall, assertive, fearless and ready to take on Goliath.

“Welcome, Phanuel!” the message of the voice had now changed.

It was the journey of my life. Released from the prison of life, I stepped back from the mirror, turned and began to take brisk steps into my space.

“Goodbye, Phanuel,” the voice faded behind me.

“Welcome, Phanuel!” Ahead of me, the sound of drums, horns and tambourines filled the air. It was the sound of victory!

The future looked bright.

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