After I won the gunfight and a medal, it became painfully obvious that unlike a police force, the probation department would not allow me to return to the street work I loved. So I ended up with a similar job within the prison doing intake classification on newly sentenced inmates. I did not feel as useful, there were fewer opportunities to help, but it was a job, paid the bills. I was surprised how many prisoners came back again and again. So too do many Christians…
The second verse of “I’ll Fly Away” identifies the problem with the attitudes of many. “Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away.”
Why don’t we think of life as “prison bars?” Surely that is the implication of the song. Certainly, “When the shadows of this life have grown” implies the infirmities of age. But more seriously, we need to consider that life is a prison that keeps us from home whatever our health.
Have we become so comfortable on the compound that we no longer see the razor wire surrounding us? Everywhere we go there is corruption and wickedness. Instead of forming an escape committee to dig a tunnel, we long to join in. Many seek to blend in. Where is our holiness? Why do we not feel we are on “bread and water” rations as our beliefs are openly assaulted daily?
We line up to watch the latest movies, catch the latest TV series and these are full of foul language, but much worse, every portrayal of love is contrary to God’s view. Do we not feel brainwashed? Do you wonder whether the angels marvel that we willingly show up for such? Are we not like the recidivist inmates, going back to the hog trough again and again?
Even when one is young and full of health, life is a prison. We can never be with God until we escape. We can never be free from temptation and filth until we fly away. No wonder many churches are being overcome with carnality. We are not teaching people to want to get out of prison nor are we teaching them the way free people live. In fact, we have the key in our hands and with finality lock ourselves in every day.
For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven… For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan… that we would be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life. … and knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord … we are of good courage and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. 2 Cor 5