By Joan Endicott
Have you ever been in prison? I have. Though it was years ago, I remember the feeling of walking farther and farther into the prison. As the guard and I walked through each set of bulletproof security doors, I was startled by the disturbingly loud clanks, clicks and claps of the metal security doors locking behind us. You can imagine the prospect of fear and panic, knowing I could never get out of this prison without others—who held the authority, and the keys—helping me find my way to freedom.
That experience gave me a new level of appreciation for Paul and Silas, who were imprisoned after helping a girl be free from demonic oppression. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
A beautiful modern-day visual of men singing praises to God while in prison can be found on YouTube. Singer and songwriter Zach Williams and his band of brothers did a concert inside Harding Prison in Nashville, Tennessee, in the summer of 2018. Watching these men, hands lifted in worship, singing lyrics such as, I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God…, and Fear he is a liar. He will rob your rest, steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire ‘cause fear he is a liar.
(Watch Zach Williams Concert Live from Harding Prison on YouTube. Guaranteed to bless your soul!)
So, how is it possible for them to have that level of peace, though in prison? Because, as Paul and Silas proved, it’s not about where you are physically, but where your soul is that you find peace, rest and freedom. When we know, trust and walk with Jesus, we can know peace because He is the Prince of Peace.
I started by asking if you had ever been in prison. My next question is, When do you feel imprisoned? (That is, held captive or confined by something.)
Though physically free, I have felt imprisoned by fear on many occasions!
Three examples just from 2020:
- Two weeks into the Covid shutdown, I found myself in a fear-induced survival mode. Iwasn’t living in a place of peace;instead it was mostly panic. I realized I could not continue to live in the fear I’d been feeling—because that wasn’t living, it was merely existing. I poured out my heart to the Lord and declared His Word to counteract those fear feelings. “Dear Lord, thank You that You give us, not a spirit of fear but power, love and a sound mind. You also know the number of my days and You will fulfill them no matter what, so I have nothing to fear. Thank You for giving me peace in the midst of this storm and helping me to live life to the full and keep doing what You call me to do. I believe that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Satan is the author of all unhealthy fear and he is a liar. I’m so grateful that I’m no longer a slave to fear—because I am a child of God.”
- I am privileged to work with clients all over the world. On one trip to work with a very special client, a medical doctor who owns neuropathy clinics, I had the opportunity toexperience not one, but two lightning and thunderstorms high in the sky over Dallas, Texas, and then over Huntsville, Alabama. At times it literally felt like we were on a roller coaster. Although I didn’t scream out loud as some passengers did, it’s onlybecause I was in continuous prayer, claiming verses and praying for Jesus’ protection. In all my years of travel, those were the most frightening flights I’ve ever endured.
- Since I was a little girl and first experienced the Oregon Coast, I’ve loved it!Whenever I go there—or any beach—I can hardly wait to get shoes off and toes in the sand and splash my feet in the salty sea. After visiting friends and attending one’s wedding in Vancouver, Washington, I was thrilled for the opportunity to take a few days to go enjoy the Oregon coastal towns like Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, andNeskowin. Guess what I noticed? Tsunami warning signs. I’m guessing they had been there for years, but I never noticed them before. Very transparently, the sad truth is, thinking of the possibility of a tsunami stole my ability to be fully present and completely enjoy one of my favorite places on the planet! I found myself looking online to see what the likelihood was of a tsunami happening at that location during that time of year. I wondered things like: Is there much warning? What should you do? Where should you go? That is, if you’re not swept away by the roaring ocean first. UGH! I wasted so much of that opportunity by listening to the lies of fear.
This is an incredibly important truth to be aware of, my friend. You see, fear breeds fear. If we get into a fear mode, we will see all around us even more reasons to fear. When we listen to, watch and read things that are fear based and fear inducing, it’s just like a fast-spreading wildfire that will destroy everything in its path. We are consuming things that either feed our fear or feed our faith.
Three simple and powerful questions I now ask myself in these moments: 1) Joan, do you believe God? 2) Do you believe His Word? 3) Do you believe He loves you? To which I gratefully reply, YES and AMEN! to all three. Then I start claiming the truths in Scriptures that counteract doubt, fear and worry. I also write out verses on index cards so I can quickly look at them when I want that reassurance.
When tempted, Jesus spoke the power of God’s Word to the devil to counteract his evil lies. How gracious of God to give us the gift of this miraculous power—The Word of God—the only Truth that has the power to set us free.
Remember our water-walking brother Peter? He got out of the boat and started walking on those stormy seas toward Jesus—at least while his focus was on the ONE who controlled the storm. But just like you and me, poor Peter started to sink as soon as his eyes went from the Storm-Controller to the storm itself. Matthew 14:28-31 says, And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Personally, I imagine Jesus’ tone being loving and lighthearted rather than reprimanding…maybe more like, “So hey, Peter, ya saw Me walkin’ on the water, right? If you know I control the wind and the waves, you know I got you, bro. Where’s the faith, huh?”
You and I have had our share of storms in life: health challenges, broken promises and relationships, death of loved ones, unfair treatment personally and professionally, financial setbacks, and the list goes on. What I know is, the greater the storm, the closer I need to be to the One who controls it. Otherwise, I helplessly flail around in the wind and waves of life.
You see, it’s not where Peter was, it is where his focus was that determined whether he was in a place of peace, or fear and terror.
I can exercise the power God’s given me to have peace in any circumstance only when I am focused on claiming the promises of the Promise-Keeper.
Oh, did I mention why I was in prison? I was there to do a video interview with an inmate. He was a gentleman who humanly had much to regret, but found forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He was eternally grateful to now walk with the only One who had the authority to give him peace and true freedom—inside or outside those prison walls.
No Jesus—No Peace
Know Jesus—Know Peace
Joan Endicott is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author of “I Get To!”® founder of GIANT-Slayer Coaching and “WOW!” Women Owning Their Worth©. Her coaching reaches over 30 countries. Meet her and get her FREE videos, book excerpts and content at JoanEndicott.com. Follow her on IG – she posts encouraging words daily!