How to be Really Free

November 14, 2021

There’s a kind of prison that we carry everywhere with us. Whatever that traps our hearts in despair and darkness, that is our prison.

The funny thing is that the prison door is always open. Beyond that door beckons sunlight and beauty. Yet we find ourselves unable to step out to freedom. That’s because our ankles are shackled. Those shackles can be fear, hurt, loneliness, regrets, self-loathing, whatever is holding us back. Interestingly, we shackle ourselves.

Want to hear something even funnier? We try to break our shackles with tools that don’t work. We tell ourselves to snap out of it. We hope tomorrow things will be different. We numb the pain with myriad addictions. We might as well try to chip away at the metal chains with a plastic spoon.

Yet there we are: still inside that prison, shackled. Meantime, we can almost hear the door saying, “Hey, I’m still open!”

Mind a suggestion? See your prison the way God sees it. Is God with you there? Do you believe God loves you utterly? Can you trust God to redeem your past and usher you to a wonderful future?

Imagine gazing at your shackles, but this time the way God looks at them. Watch those shackles melt away, unable to resist the laser beam of His love and mercy.

Then, let God have the pleasure of getting you up on your feet and leading you out that door, the door which He has kept open… just for you.

Come. Let’s step outside. I hear a beautiful life awaits us, because we follow a beautiful God.


We all feel some form of emptiness in our lives. It’s the pang when we desire a blessing, but God has apparently left us in the cold. Or when we feel we could have done better but are dissatisfied with our lives.

Within Luke chapter 5 are beautiful lessons.

Jesus was teaching to a crowd by the lake of Gennesaret. The crowds were already pressing Him to the shore. Any further pushing and Jesus would hit the lake.

So He got into one of the boats, which was Simon Peter’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. Then He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. What an innovative idea from the mind of Christ! He saw a boat and transformed it into a pulpit. Now He could talk to the crowds and stay dry at the same time.

No doubt Peter was with Jesus in the boat. Talk about a captive audience! But was Peter receptive to Jesus’ words ? I don’t think so. Peter and his colleagues worked hard fishing the previous night, but caught nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. So while Jesus taught, perhaps Peter was brooding about the futility of last night.

The barren nets. The aching muscles. The despairing hearts.

Peter was empty.

Do you feel the same way? Even no matter how hard you worked? Why does your heart ache?

A misspent past?
Longing for a spouse?
A disappointing marriage?
A stalled career ?
A bout with depression?

But meditate on what happened next. Jesus did something unexpected. After He had finished speaking, He told Peter, “Put out into the deep water for a catch.”

Simon must have groaned. He must have thought, “Oh, no! Another exercise in futility! And for what? Who’s this guy anyway? Since when does a carpenter know about fishing? Doesn’t He know I’m the veteran around here? Why doesn’t He just stick to preaching?”


Peter answered, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.” Despite the fatigue, Peter had a good heart: “Jesus, I don’t understand. But because You said so, I’ll do it.”

When Peter and his group complied, their net captured a great quantity of fish, so great that the net began to break. He had to signal to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. When they hauled the fish onto both boats, the catch was still so great that they began to sink.

Get it? Even your emptiness is by God’s design, for if you’re not empty, how can He fill you?

But notice the sequence: First, God uses you, then He blesses you. Had Peter’s boat been filled from last night’s fishing, he couldn’t let Jesus use his boat. He’d tell Jesus to wait while they unload the catch and clean the boat.

What is it that God first wants to do to you and through you ?

Let God use you in your emptiness. Until when? Until He is finished. Then He will bless.

Notice when Jesus began to bless Peter? When He had finished teaching the crowd. There is a divine timetable to your blessing. If you’re empty now, it’s not that God is stingy. It’s still not yet time. Who knows, it could come next year… next month…tomorrow … today.

Even the blessing is purely by His grace. Jesus didn’t have to do it. But He did. And it was totally unexpected. It must have caught Peter off-guard. Submit yourself to the grace of God, trust in His goodness, and He will do what is best. And He doesn’t do it only for you, but so that you will be His overflowing channel to bless those around you.

What a wonderful Father we have, who uses even our emptiness for His glory! Indeed, just as fullness comes from Him, so does emptiness.

Is your life like Peter’s empty boat? Make Jesus your Captain. Let Him call the shots. In due time, He will bless. Maybe not the way you expect, but like Peter, you will bow down before Him in awe and worship. And as Peter did, follow Him.

Surrender your emptiness into His hands and watch Him fill you. “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)


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