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FREEDOM AT ALCATRAZ


William Andrew Dillard
Philemon 1:10

A few years ago, my family toured the state of California from the Oregon border to San Diego. Of course, this included a couple of days in San Francisco. While there, a boat tour was enjoyed in the bay and around the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. As the tour boat circled the island of rock, one could see why this now-closed maximum-security federal prison was once known as “The Rock.”
There was row after row of cage-like cells that housed well-known inmates such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” One visitor there was left with some unforgettable images.
For decades, men imprisoned there as just punishment for their crimes, longed to be free. Evidence still told the story. He saw the name “Jesus” scrawled on a wall. In another, a Bible lay on a shelf. Together they quietly spoke of the greatest of all freedoms, even for a physical prisoner.
Paul knew such while imprisoned in Rome. Regarding himself as a “prisoner of Christ,” he used his incarceration to help other inmates discover what it means to be an eternally forgiven, dearly loved child of God. Paul wrote to Philemon,“ I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds (Philem. 1:10).
Barred windows and doors represent one kind of confinement. Physical paralysis, inescapable poverty, and prolonged unemployment are others. Perhaps you endure another. None are to be desired—yet who would trade “imprisonment” with Christ for life “on the outside” without Him? For Jesus is truth, and the truth shall make you free, indeed.

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