Revival and Reformation

The holy ground of confinement

Alan Wilson, DMin, is a professor in the Irish Baptist College, pastor, and church planter residing in Cloughey, County Down, Northern Ireland.

These are strange and unusual days we are living in, days where our freedom has been greatly curtailed. For some, isolation can be exceedingly difficult psychologically and emotionally, causing them to feel lonely and disconnected, especially if they are living by themselves. When our emotions are overcome with negativity, it is difficult to maintain a spiritual perspective, causing us to think that God is distant, not in control, or does not love us. How can we remain spiritually and emotionally faithful to God when we feel that Providence has locked our doors, curtailed our freedom, disrupted our plans, and changed the world as we know it?

Room for God

There is no easy answer to that question. However, I do think that Paul’s response to his incarceration, chains, and containment is very helpful: “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident . . . that my chains are in Christ” (Phil. 1:12, 13, NKJV). The place of his containment became holy ground, a sacred place that had been set apart for God’s purposes. His chains became as holy as the instruments the priests used in the temple when they served God. In his small area of confinement, he made room for God. And this attitude was what enabled him to continually reach beyond the four walls of his confinement.

Making room for God in your confinement needs to be a deliberate choice that you initiate. But what does it look like?

First, consider your confinement in isolation an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God. There are so many good resources that we could use at this time to help sustain us.1 Set yourself small, achievable goals for each day. You never know; by the time this is all over, you may have developed new habits that will help shape your life for the future.

Second, view this as an opportunity to encourage others. When you read Paul’s words, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord” (Phil. 1:14, NIV), you begin to wonder whether Paul was in control of all his faculties. His thinking appears to be slightly crazy. He does not dispense with confidence in spite of his chains. Paul declares that others become confident because of his chains.

Paul sees this as an opportunity to encourage others. How did he accomplish this? The secret is found just a few verses later: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, NIV). Paul’s heart and life were filled with Jesus’ presence through the Holy Spirit. He had peace with God no matter the circumstances and was confident in his purpose to serve his beloved Savior to the end. Through this connection with Christ, he was able to have this attitude and courage. As a result, he chose to see the encouragement of others as a productive use of his time during his personal “lockdown.”

We need to share Paul’s attitude. What kind of encouragement will you emit? On the holy ground of confinement, God longs to meet with us and use us to continue blessing others.

I know what I am talking about. I have some experience in this matter.

I have a disability requiring me to remain at home during the mandated period of isolation. One of the consequences of my disability, cerebral palsy, is a speech impediment that often makes it difficult for others to understand what I am trying to say. So, I like to write. I wrote this article to encourage my fellow believers. I hope this will be a blessing to you.

God’s presence with us in our place of confinement makes this one of the most significant times in our lives and a key to our future fellowship with Him.

  1. For a wealth of resources, visit the Revival and Reformation resources page at https://revivalandreformation.org/resources.
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