Prison and Party Invitations - Encouragement Café - February 10, 2017

Prison and Party Invitations
By Aj Luck

Friday, February 10, 2017


For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.  Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

It’s no secret that I struggle with depression. Some days are debilitating. Some days are more manageable. Still, the struggle is real.

I have a mental image of me, sitting on a sad excuse for a wooden bench, inside an isolated, cold, damp, cell. The door is closed. Locked. I’m sitting there, head hanging low, feeling utterly defeated. In my hands, I’m holding something cold and metal. I refuse to look at it, yet I know what is in my hands.

It’s the key to unlock myself from the prison I have placed myself in.

Why won’t I get up? I have the key! What keeps me sitting on that bench wallowing in overwhelming negative feelings?

Our self-imposed prison cells can all be made up of different “material.”

Mine is constructed out of depression. Others can be made from:






The list could go on and on.

However, the prisons continue to construct within our lives, in silence.  All while we are trying to appear to have it all together in front of loved ones and colleagues.

You can only hide emotional incarceration for so long.

The prodigal son tried to break free from his self-imposed prison. He demanded his portion of his inheritance and ran straight towards anything that would help him feel alive again. The problem is the prison he ran INTO was far worse than the one he ran OUT of.

Different voices from various things all called out to him, drawing him towards them. Promising that they would fix him, wake him up, give him purpose and the freedom he so desperately sought.

Instead, all the promises ended up mush in the middle of a herd of pigs, waiting to be fed. The prodigal, standing there, starving, looked down at the mess and realized that this is now what his life had become. He needed a new perspective. He wanted to go home. He finally realized that he was searching for something he had all along. The open arms and unconditional love of his father.

Convincing himself that his father would reject his returning, he remained in a prison mindset, willing to settle for being a servant and no longer a son.

Isn’t that how we ALL feel? HONESTLY? Locked up in our mental prisons, punishing ourselves in silence??

We lost our temper, again.

We blew our diet.

We yelled at our kids.

We cut off the PASTOR in traffic!

We broke a promise.

We failed to keep a commitment.

We let someone down.

Nobody treats you worse than we treat ourselves. I mean really, would YOU talk to others the way you talk to yourself? Would you treat someone the way you treat yourself? (on the inside, in the secret dark places of our hearts.)

I want to encourage you, stand up and walk towards your cell door: grip the key and unlock the door.




Run so hard into the arms of Jesus that you both fall down and giggle, hug and rejoice in the reunion of creation to Creator.

Allow Him to celebrate you. (He’s crazy over you just the way you are right now!)

Join the party of living life WITH Jesus. You know what they say, don’t you? There’s no better party, that a Jesus filled party! Throw your hands up, your head back and shout for Joy. You are worth celebrating!

Action Step: Go out and buy a bunch of balloons. Choose whatever colors you like. Stuff them into your car.

Once your home, grab a sharpie and on each balloon, write a struggle in your life that you’re ready to let go of.

For example: Anger, resentment, bitterness, envy, fear, anxiety…etc.

Once all of your balloons are “labeled” go outside and invite Jesus to your “release party.” One by one or all at once, release your balloons. Watch them float away. Allow this to be a tangible act of surrender. Then invite the Holy Spirit to fill the now surrendered places with an overflow of Joy from His Spirit. Celebrate who you are in God. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly and look around. Today is a brand new day.

Heavenly Father, You alone are my secret keeper and know the darkest places within my heart. Lord, I feel tired, overwhelmed and unworthy of Your love. Help me to truly surrender the things that keep me imprisoned inside my heart. Replace my struggle with Your joy. I want my joy back. I want to stand beside You and celebrate this life that You have paid so dearly to give me. Thank you, Lord. You truly are the greatest gift of all. Consume me in Your joy, for I believe that the Joy of YOU Father, is where my strength is found. Thank You, Lord … In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2017 by Aj Luck.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Friday, 10 February 2017.