Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Praise and Prison Walls

Last night’s Women Aglow meeting didn’t turn out as planned.  The technology let us down – a DVD to be played from a laptop computer projected into a screen refused to cooperate.  The dummy run before everyone arrived went smoothly but then the laptop and the projector stopped talking to one another.   Who knows what was said in silent cyber speak?  Did the projector hint it would have preferred working with one of the sleek and slim newer models?  Did the laptop say something demeaning about the projector’s size?

My workplace is just around the corner – two corners really, or just over the fence at the back of the hotel for the athletically accomplished.  I offered to fetch a different laptop and rescue the evening.  The entrance foyer was full of small people in judo kits.  On mass they were rather intimidating. It was somewhat disturbing to enter the building and walk out with a laptop unchallenged by any adult.  Of course, I couldn’t have got the laptop without my room key.  Regardless, the projector wouldn’t talk to that one either.

Plan B was an opportunity for people to share testimonies.

I can remember when Saturday mornings used to be sleep-in-affairs, but since I arrived at the other end of the menopause I am wide awake and ready to go. The Saturday just gone I was wide awake at silly o’clock.  Later in the morning there was the faith writing group to look forward to – but that was much later. 

The week had been one where my finest hours were absent.  Maybe I had set the bar too high and banged my legs trying to leap over it, or more likely I’d set it quite low and still managed to bang my legs leaping over.  I was not a happy bunny.

“So, it doesn’t work then?” said God.

“What doesn’t work? I asked.

“The whole praise thing when the prison walls fall.  It really doesn’t work.”

I think God has picked up the habit my husband and I have of starting a conversation in the middle, challenging the perplexed spouse try to work out what it’s all about.

I knew this one.  It all relates to a dream I had years ago.  My dreams are often vivid and colourful.  Many of them are pure nonsense, but sometimes they are profound.

In this particular dream I had been grabbed by demons and dragged into a deep prison. I lifted up my hands and began to sing worship songs. The walls of the prison dissolved before my eyes. The demons grabbed me a second time and dragged me into a deeper prison.  Again I praised God and the walls melted away.  When it happened a third time, I looked into one of the demon’s eyes and spoke so clearly.

“There is no dungeon deep enough, no place you can take me to, where worship cannot bring release.”

I saw fear in the demon’s eyes.

It’s not a dream I have forgotten.  Many years later I wrote a poem based on the story of Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi. 

“So, it doesn’t work then?” said God.

“Actually it does work,” I replied. “The problem isn’t with the truth – it’s with my application of it.”

God nodded.  He and I agreed that it had been a long time since either of us had heard me sing. Too often I look at my circumstances and convince myself I have a good reason not to sing, but in choosing not to worship I make my faith of no value.  How am I any different from someone who doesn’t have my faith? When I set my heart to praise God, particularly when things aren’t going so good, there is always release. The situations I face may not have changed but it no longer imprisons me. 

Freedom is not just for the Pauls and Silas’ in the Christian church but for all of us.

No comments: