Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Monday, November 10

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
—Ephesians 4:1

If logic alone ruled the world, we would find ourselves startled at
almost every turn. In today's verse, a prisoner asks us to lead a life worthy of our calling. Aren't people in jail because they failed to do
exactly that at some stage of the game? Are we to heed the counsel of a prisoner? Isn't he in jail because he betrayed the peace?

When we try to sort out our lives, we may talk with a counselor, a pastor, or a good friend, but there aren't many of us who would head for the local jail and talk with its inmates about the direction of our lives.

Fortunately, however, the spiritual world is not bound by logic.

Nelson Mandela, one of the true moral figures of our age, spent decades in prison. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letters from a jail cell in Birmingham. The Nazis punished Dietrich Bonhoeffer by putting him in prison but could not stop him from writing letters. Gandhi was no stranger to prison. And, of course, neither was Paul.

An astonishing thing happened to each one of them during their imprisonment. It did not make them bitter. It did not poison their outlook. It did not lead them to self-pity. For each one, imprisonment seemed to clarify their conscience and inspire a deeper connection with both God and neighbor.

We are all constrained by one thing or another. Perhaps it is illness. Perhaps it is the despair that takes hold of us when we are unable to provide for those we love no matter how hard we work. Perhaps it is an ideology that once attracted us but no longer serves to guide our lives.

Paul urges us to look beyond these temporal restraints. The walls of his spiritual prison serve to restrain anger; ego; impatience; hatred; and the violence of war. Such a prison turns out to be an extraordinary blessing if we but have the courage to submit.

Grant that we may be guided and even imprisoned by the better angels of our nature. Amen.