My mentor, friend, and pastor-counselor, Rev. Roger Bennett, has been and is a great help and source for me overcoming my addictions to people-pleasing, co-dependency, workaholism, and my unhealthy desire to become a VIP. I always wanted to be pastor of what we call in the ministry business a ‘high-steeple’ church. In my pastoral career, I always pastored small rural churches hoping for the big one to come along. It never did.
I found peace in being rather than doing. Roger teaches that we are human beings and not human doers. My identity was wrapped up in doing rather than being. My “doing” identity caused me to never be satisfied. My “being” identity caused me to be pleased with who I am. Realizing that the Lord accepts me for who I am rather than what I do brought me and brings me the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). As Corrie ten Boom wrote, “Don’t wrestle, just nestle.”
Roger teaches that all of us are addicted to something or someone. Addictions cause us pain in our attempt to overcome grief, loneliness, fear, anger, worry, or depression, we might, for example, turn to work and become obsessed with the good feeling that comes from the accolades of a job ‘well done.’ This can lead to the unhealthy compulsion to gain approval and public recognition of success.
Since we all are addicted to something or someone that imprisons our soul, can we be addicted to something that frees and blesses us? The answer is yes and comes from a strange passage in Zechariah. “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zechariah 9:12).
A prisoner of hope? When you think about it, it makes sense! Emotionally and spiritually imprisoned by hope is a strange addiction.
Hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation. A prisoner of hope cherishes a desire and fully expects that desire to be fulfilled. But, it has to be right kind of hope. Hebrews 6:18-18 tells us the right kind of hope to imprison us. “We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” It is an encouraging hope that anchors our soul!
How then can we become ‘prisoners of hope.” Chris Tiegreen in his marvelous devotional book, “Worship the King,” for the October 23 reading writes, “We can become prisoners of hope by letting go of our sense of control.” After all, we can’t really control much any way. We can’t control people for sure. We can’t make someone like or love us. We can’t prevent adverse situations from happening to us. It’s like trying to make a hurricane have landfall in a particular place.
Tiegreen says that we become prisoners of hope by resting instead of always striving, by believing instead of fearing, by praising the Lord instead of taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude. “Prisoners of hope have abandoned all their devices and have risked EVERYTHING on the Warrior’s ability to come through for them. That kind of faith sees victories!
“The decision to let God fight our battles never says, ‘I thought God was going to come through for me, but he didn’t.'” Prisoners of hope see victory and restoration from a position of rest rather than anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. It rejoices in the strength of the Warrior.”
“The prisoner of hope,” Tiegreen says, “knows that God will restore twice what the enemy has stolen and restore the many years that seems to have been wasted.”
Addictions imprison our emotions and soul. Isn’t it strange how the prison of hope instead of hopelessly imprisoning us, frees us from all our unhealthy addictions? Prisoners of hope know the peace and joy that comes from locking the door on self-effort, false pride, and the accolades of others. They lock the door and throw away the key.