Have you ever felt trapped, or been in a situation that seemed to have no way out, no solution? Can you remember a time when you felt all of your efforts were not successful in getting you where you wanted to go in life?
Have you done something in the past that because it could not be undone, has haunted you to the point where everything else is viewed in terms of “what if things had been different?” Has someone so incredibly wronged you that the memory of that event or circumstances dominates your thoughts? Have you in the past or are you at the present fighting the demon of despair that threatens to imprison you and everything that concerns you?
Imagine yourself in solitary confinement in a dark, damp and cold prison. You are there because you have done something to deserve this terrible judgment. There are no windows in your cell, only darkness. There is definitely no way out. To make matters worse, your sentence is a justifiably a lifetime one. There is absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself from this perpetual reminder that you are a sinner and deserve this lonely, loveless existence with no hope of having a productive life. The boredom is practically unbearable, but you are forced to endure it, day by unending day.
The only way you stay alive is the daily provision slipped through the slot in the metal door that confines you: a little bowl of water and some bread. Then one day, a bright light stuns you. You blink from the brightness of the unfamiliar and wonder if you just imagined the light. But no, someone has actually opened the door. In fact, as your eyes adjust to the light, you see that the person who opened the door fills it with his presence. He is a simple shepherd, a kind man with an expression of compassion you cannot recall ever seeing in anyone else before.
Suddenly, you are embarrassed by your lack of hygiene. You are incredibly smelly, your hair is matted and your prison uniform is dirty and torn. The difference between you and this man cannot be measured. Even though he is humbly dressed, he is the essence of purity itself. His countenance makes you think of refreshing water running from a brook. You are suddenly thirsty for that water, a thirst you are unable to put into words. You want more than relief from a parched mouth. Without understanding how or why you feel this way, you know what you really need is a drink from a brook that will never run dry. You discover that you believe this man can give you that gift, cleansing in every sense of the word.
He, however, seems to be unaware of your filthy state. He enters your cell and gently takes your hand, seemingly unconscious of the grime and germs located there. Leading you out of your cell into light of day, he resurrects you from the pit of that dungeon and despair.
The good shepherd says, “Follow me, for I am the way to God. I tell you the truth. I am the source of all life and I want to give it abundantly to you. I have paid the price for your crime that put you in this place. I have redeemed you. Just trust me and get the source of your strength from me, for my desire is that you have a useful and fruitful life. My father and I want to make our home with you and have you be part of our family. We tend a lovely vineyard. My father is the caretaker and I am the true vine. If you will get all your strength from me, I promise that you can live a full, abundant and productive life.”
Still reeling from the wonder of it all, you take the shepherd’s hand and continue walking into the light, never to return to your cell or utter despair.
Sin against God literally puts us in the dark cell of despair. There is no hope of restitution without divine intervention. Jesus came to rescue us from that sinful state. He asks only that we trust in Him. Faith in Jesus is based on His trustworthiness. All that we need He has done. Giving feet to our faith, we must eat the bread, look to the light, walk through the door, and follow our Shepherd-Redeemer out of our prison of sin.
Once rescued from that dark place, we must continue to follow Him. Everything concerning us from then on has new meaning. Productivity is now possible by His example and through His Spirit.
Robert Frost, an American poet (1874-1963), said, “The best way out is always through.” The only way out of our sinful lost state is through Jesus Christ. Trust Him. He will never fail you.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser….I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 5).
© Stephanie B. Blake