“So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” John 8:36 CSB
The movie “Shawshank Redemption” could arguably be listed as a classic. The tale of two inmates that bond over years of imprisonment together. But there was one inmate, Brooks Hatlen that touched my heart for another reason. Incarcerated in 1905, he became the prison librarian in 1912 where he served until he was released on parole in 1955. He was a lifer, or so he thought, until he was released. Brooks didn’t know what to do with his freedom. They put him in a halfway house, found him a job in a grocery store, all the things he would need to start a new life. But he didn’t want a new life. He didn’t want his freedom. He wanted to go back to jail where he was comfortable. Where he knew what to expect, knew what to do, knew how to live. He didn’t know how to live free. In the saddest scene of the movie, Brooks kills himself in his lonely room of the halfway house. He didn’t know how to live life free.
It’s sad to say, but many of us suffer the same problem as the fictional character Brooks. We don’t know how to live free. We don’t understand the freedom we have in Jesus. We don’t truly believe we’ve been forgiven all of our sins, even the ones we have yet to commit. Just because you begin a new life with Jesus doesn’t mean you automatically stop sinning. In fact, Jesus knows we won’t. Each morning, I start fresh. Above my desk I have this prayer hanging which I borrowed from C.S. Lews:
“Imitation: Da hodie perfecte incipere– grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.”
I live in freedom knowing that in my weakness, God is strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 CSB). I will never be perfect, Christ didn’t come because I was perfect. He came because I am a sinner who is in need of rescue (Galatians 1:4 CSB). He did the same for you. But it can be hard to let go of the past and walk in confidence that Christ has set us free. The life we were living is known, the new life in Christ is unknown. It’s easier to stay where we were than to take steps of faith into the new life God is leading us too. It’s heartbreaking how abused women stay in abusive relationships because they don’t know life without abuse. It’s seems safer to them than taking steps towards a new life. It’s heartbreaking Brooks would rather die than live a life of freedom.
But that is exactly what Jesus came to do, set us free. He has set us free from our pasts, from our sins, from hurts and hang ups. He came to give us life and give it to us in full (John 10:10 CSB). Accept the gift of freedom He has given you. Don’t go back to jail, step into freedom, step into life!