Many years ago when I was a seventh grader at Lincoln Junior High, our choir took a trip from Abilene to Austin (about 220 miles) to perform for the Texas Music Educators Association. This trip was a great experience in many ways. After our performance, we went to a cafeteria down on Congress Avenue, a few blocks from the Texas State Capital. After eating, everyone else in our group took off for the bus, but I knew about a Lammes Candy Store a little bit down the street and took off alone.

After getting my stash of candy for the trip back, I had to travel through a wooden chute that had been built to protect pedestrians from falling debris. I noticed just as entered this protected construction chute, a dangerous looking guy stepped into it behind me. Then I looked up ahead and there was a similar looking guy coming toward me! The adrenalin surged and a wave of panic washed over my body. I was a skinny kid trapped in this boarded-up chute with two men that were out to get me or some thing from me. Thoughts raced through my head as looked for solutions.

How am I going to get away?

What are they going to do to me if they get me?

Why didn't I stay with the group?

Why will words not come out of my mouth?

Most of us, at one time or another, have been trapped and looking for escape in a dangerous physical or financial situation. The Bible reminds us this same kind of situation existed for us spiritually before God stepped in for us.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons ... the Son ... got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating (Colossians 1:13-14 MSG).

What traps us in "dark dungeons" and in "dead-end alleys" and "pits" where we feel forgotten in our own failures?

Cruel evil forces — spiritual powers at work in our world — that use addictions, greedy fund managers, evil politicians that work genocide, hate-inspired religious zealots that blow up people, that drive planes into buildings, and warriors who use innocent civilians as human shields (Colossians 1:13-14).

But in addition to spiritual powers that cause problems for us in our world, there are also our own spiritual mistakes, rebellions, and failures that trap us (Colossians 1:21-22). These set our hearts against God and make us view Him as our enemy!

Then there are also all the religious rules that people use to convince themselves that they are better than everyone else (Colossians 2:13-15). The problem is, religious rules have no power. They are like a mirror showing us where we are wrong, but they cannot redeem, empower, or restore us when we stumble and fall.

Amazingly, all three sets of these forces conspired together at Jesus' crucifixion. Satanic power is at work leading Judas to betray Jesus and the cruel maneuvers of the Roman political machine that is less concerned about justice and more concerned about peace. The closest friends of Jesus fail in their loyalty to Him and abandon Him in the moment He most needs their friendship. And the religious rule makers in their jealousy and hatred use parts of their law to convict Jesus while ignoring and breaking other parts.

At first, it appears that this cruel alliance of evil will triumph. Jesus is humiliated, tortured, and killed before a public mob that has called for His blood. Jesus' followers are scattered, hiding in locked rooms and shattered by what has happened. But then Sunday dawns, and as the sunrise bursts across the sky Jesus is alive and everything changes.

Jesus' small, rag-tag group of defeated followers finds new strength and changes the world. This fearful group once in hiding, will all eventually give their lives for the cause they know is much greater than themselves. And what began as a defeated movement of an executed traitor now surges powerfully to reach the farthest corners of the world.

And the reminder for you and me in this? The God who raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us. His grace can rescue us from our dark dungeons, dead-end alleys, and deep pits that have trapped us.

Isn't it time you did the same with Jesus?
So will we abandon the addictions that hold us and follow Jesus and rely on His community to help us find new life?

Will we trust Him to lead us through the consequences of our rebellions to a better place and a fuller life?

Will we abandon rule-keeping as the basis of our salvation and trust His grace to be our source of goodness?

And now one final question: what is holding you back from fully trusting Jesus to help you escape?

Oh, and did I escape my frightening experience as a seventh grade boy? Barely! I climbed the boards of that construction chute and jumped out just as the guy behind me grabbed my pants leg. I yelled at my friends several blocks ahead, getting their attention, and ran to them as fast as my feet would propel me. I was safe, with friends, and headed home.

Isn't it time you did the same with Jesus?

What are your real answers to the questions above?

Which do you think is easier to get trapped in — addictive sins, rebellious living, or depending on religious rule-keeping to save us?

I'd love to hear from you on my blog: