Are you your own prison?

I’ll admit, I didn’t always pay close attention in every class I took in high school. But there was one particular class that caught my attention.


I loved that class to the point where I thought it would be my major in college — that is, until I fell in love with my journalism class the very next semester.

Still, studying the mind and how people think was, for some reason, of huge appeal to me.

One particular article I read continues to stick out to me even today.

It was about someone who experimented with the thought process of an elephant. An experimenter tied a baby elephant to a tree, giving it enough rope to be able to walk out a few feet for its food and water. The elephant lived in this condition for several years, until it grew up into adulthood.

It was an exercise in conditioning. Once the elephant reached adulthood, it had more than enough strength to break the rope and roam. After all, some elephants grow as large as 13 feet tall, weighing as much as 7,000 pounds.

But it didn’t move. It remained content to be tied to the rope. But that wasn’t the most harrowing discovery.

That came when the experimenter untied the elephant. The large animal, now with uninhibited movement, was able to move about as far from the tree as he pleased. Yet, to the experimenter’s surprise, he would only walk as far as he was previously able to go.

This large elephant, with strength to move wherever he pleased, stayed confined in one place even after nothing was holding it back, because it had been conditioned to think that it could only go so far.

It made me think.

What is worse than being bound and held captive against your will?

How about being free and not even knowing it.

I’m convinced that Christians live bound and captive to many things just because we don’t fully believe in the power of God’s Spirit, at our disposal, to be relieved of certain strains and freed from certain bonds.

Jesus gave us a one-word antidote for freedom in the Gospels.


He said it like this: “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT).

What “truth” is Jesus talking about? It’s the truth of the Gospel message. The truth of the power of His indwelling Spirit. The truth of having a relationship with Him that is real, living, breathing and personal.

The truth that there’s nothing so bad that you’ve done, or no depth so deep that you’ve reached where He cannot pick you back up, dust you off and cause you to start again fresh and free.

Free from what, you may ask?

Free from sin’s power and penalty. Free from the guilt and condemnation that the enemy tries to dog us with even after we’ve repented and experienced God’s forgiveness.

Free from feeling like we have to strive to be good enough for God’s favor through our own efforts. Free from bitterness, resentment or the things that have weighed you down for as long as you can remember.

Yes, God desires us to have that kind of freedom. You have the ability to shake off the binding and hindering things in your life, because you have the strength of Christ living inside of you.

The freeing truth is this: Wherever you are in life right now, God still can and desires to use you mightily for His glory. And no excuse you can come up with can change this.

So, don’t spend another day captive in an optional prison. Find Christ’s strength to set you free!

Even when sins bind me, Lord, You are able to free me. Thank You for forgiveness!

Gabriel Stovall covers religion and sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He is also founder and pastor of NewLife Church, which meets each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in the Forest Park Middle School cafeteria. He can be reached at gstovall@news-daily.com, or follow him on Twitter @GabrielCStovall.