“Stay in your prison of fear”

I was surprised recently to feel like the Lord was speaking to me through Kung Fu Panda 2, believe it or not.

In this scene, the main characters are trying to break two legends of Kung Fu out of prison to help them defeat the bad guy.  But the bad guy has a new weapon that previously defeated the two inmates.  As a result, they are kept in prison not by the bars, but by their own fear, as this scene illustrates.


You stay in your prison of fear,

with bars made of hopelessness,

and all you get are three square meals a day of shame!

With despair for dessert.

I don’t know if it’s father’s day, or just that I am doing more ministry with other men, but I’ve been seeing in myself and other men many manmade “prisons of fear” lately.

When we live in fear and fail to take the risks we know, deep in our hearts, that God wants us to take, then comes the shame.  We conclude that we can’t do it.  We make up a million justifications for why.  “I couldn’t afford it.”  “My wife won’t go for it.”  “My children need something different.”  “I won’t be very good at it,” etc.  It’s this combination of knowing that God has called us to something greater but instead convincing ourselves that we can’t do it that produces shame.  Years of living in shame produces hopelessness, and finally, despair.

The sad irony is that we play it safe because we think we are meeting our families’ needs, but what our wives and kids really need is a man who pushes past the fear and takes those risks, not because he thinks he can do it, but (and here’s the critical part) because he knows that God can.  When we put ourselves in places where we are totally screwed unless God shows up, God is faithful. And our families are watching.  They are watching us to learn how to live.   But when we play it safe and keep it under control, we often end up losing our children’s hearts, because they are looking for a bigger story.

There is tremendous freedom in this life of faith.  When I realize that my job is not to be the hero, but to point them to the hero, it’s a lot easier.  I’m not enough for them, but he his. I don’t have to have it all figured out.  I just take the risks he is asking me to take, and I trust that he has it all figured out.  My goal is to make Him look good, not myself.  And with that faith, I become the husband and father my family needs.  And together we live the story that captures their hearts.

So Lord, strengthen me to take the risks you are calling me to take.  I renounce fear, shame, hopelessness, and despair.  Take my life and write Your story—the story that will capture my imagination and that of my family.  In Jesus’ name.

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