Breaking Free: Our Fascination With Prison Breaks

I have been fascinated with the recent news headlines of the Prison Break in New York. The daring escape carried out by two men involved cutting through walls, crawling across catwalks, shimmying through a maze of steam pipes and ended by escaping through a man-hole cover outside the prison. It is fascinating and could be found on the pages of a movie script in Hollywood. In fact, the Governor of New York likened the escape to the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Even though these men are hardened killers and I pray for their recapture, there is something inside me that is excited and fascinated by their escape. I don’t like to admit it, but there is something in me that roots for the prisoner to escape. As I ruminated, I asked myself, “Ben, are you crazy? Do you realize what these men have done? Why are you fascinated by prison breaks?” The glorification of prison breaks in movies like Stalag 17 or The Shawshank Redemption contribute to these feelings, but here are a couple other reasons I think we are fascinated by these stories:

1. We Identify with the Prisoners

We can feel at times like prisoners in our circumstances when things are going bad or are very difficult. For example, we can feel like prisoners to debt when going through financial difficulties. We can feel like prisoners to fear or anxiety when it is affecting the way we act or behave. We can feel like prisoners to our employer if we are stuck in a dead end job but can’t find another. We can feel like prisoners in a dysfunctional family situation or marriage when it seems like you have tried everything, and it is not helping. Those who struggle with addictions can feel like prisoners to their drug of choice. We also feel like prisoners when we do wrong things. In fact, Jesus says in John 8:34 “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” Many times, we do wrong things even though we don’t want to do them because we can’t help it. We have been imprisoned by sin.

2. We All Long to Escape from These Prisons  

We want to be free. At times, our circumstances can feel like there is no way out, and we really want to escape. We also desire to be free from sin and the hurt we have inflicted on people we love. I am sure the prisoners who broke out of the prison in New York planned, dreamed, fretted, and were obsessed with escaping. They probably thought almost of nothing else in the days and weeks leading up to their escape, and then they finally did escape. We can feel the same way. How can I possibly get out from under this weight of debt? How can I repair the broken relationships in my life? I want to be free from these difficulties! I don’t want to hurt people any longer by the things I do.

3. Christ Offers a True Prison Break 

The good news in all of this is that there is a pathway to escape the prisons of sin and circumstances. Romans 3:23-24 says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been set free. We have been set free from our slavery to sin, and he also offers us a way to deal with the difficulties we face in life. He offers us help and power to deal with fear, anxiety, and any of life’s difficulties. It is called his grace, which is His favor, love, and power to help us. Hebrews 4:16 says “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I do pray that these men are apprehended and brought back to serve the time for the crimes they committed. Even though I have been fascinated to read of their escape, I am even more excited that Christ has made His grace available to me in order to deal with the self-made prisons I have put myself in.

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