Sunday, November 26, 2006
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Psalm 17:12 – They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover. (NIV)

Acts 16:30 – He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (NIV)

I like going to the zoo, although I haven't been to one for years. The last time I was there, I had a sad experience. It took place next to the lion's cage. As I watched the king of the beasts, I felt sorry for him. He was supposed to be dangerous and mighty, wild and free, but this lion was quiet, brooding, and sad. He should have been running wild across the African plains; instead, he seemed lonely and isolated, downhearted and trapped.

Now, I know that if I had gone into that cage, I would have been mauled to death, but it just seemed so unnatural, so unreal. In other zoos, I had seen lions that were kept in wide open spaces called safari parks, and they seemed to be strong, vibrant, and menacing. This poor lion couldn't even look me in the eye, and every time I stared at him, he looked away. His spirit was broken, and his reason for living was gone.

I've seen people like that, who've lost their way and found themselves trapped by their own choices. One can see the sadness in their eyes and can hear it in their voices. They want to be free from all of the pressures, stresses, and responsibilities with which life has encaged them. They want to be whom they were meant to be, and not whom the world has shaped them to be.

In Acts 16, we can read about a jailer who wanted to be saved. His life had become a prison, and his responsibilities had trapped his soul. He almost committed suicide because he thought that he had lost everything, but Paul and Silas were there to reassure and re-strengthen him. Their honesty touched his heart, and their faith changed his life. Instead of committing suicide, he committed his life to Christ.

Sometimes, life can be a burden, and we can lose heart. Illness, work, family, and money can make us feel trapped and imprisoned, ineffective and isolated. During those bleak moments, Christ sends messengers of hope, bearers of the Word, and comforters of His grace. He saves us from ourselves. He helps us rediscover our purpose, our meaning, our reason to be.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when life overburdens us and our responsibilities overwhelm us, be near to us and carry us. When things go wrong or when we make bad choices, return us to Your arms, and embrace us with Your love. And when we are free, help us to help those who are still imprisoned in their hearts, their lives, and their souls. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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