Thursday, February 22, 2007

Set free

I saw this painting yesterday online, and was taken in by it. It's by Pier Francesco Mola (1612-1666), an Italian painter of the Baroque period. It's called "St. Peter Freed from Prison" (based on the story in Acts 5:19).

I think it's a beautiful way to imagine God setting us free from our prisons of sin, or fear, or worry, or whatever the bondage might happen to be. Like Peter in the picture, we are miserable and helpless. Yet God in his grace reaches down from on high and breaks open the shackles.

Granted, sometimes we have to struggle and pray and long for this freedom. But God is our hope and strength as we await his timing.

The painting reminds me of that much-loved hymn by Charles Wesley, the 4th stanza of which goes like this:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

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