[forthright] Voluntary Confinement

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2007 14:23:15 -0300
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

More information has been added to the invitation
to prayer for summer safety:


Voluntary Confinement
by Tim Hall

Occasionally I make visits inside prison walls.
Some facilities are more depressing than others.
One was clean and state-of-the-art, but allowed
the inmates no time outside. None. Were those
prisoners anxious to be released? You likely know
the answer to that one!

I often visit others who serve long periods of
voluntary confinement. No, they've not been
sentenced to time in prison; they've never broken
any laws. Yet day after day they willingly retreat
to areas under roofs and within walls, rarely
seeing the light of day.

Why have Americans accepted such confinement? Two
factors loom large in the explanation: air
conditioning and television. Because we have grown
dependent on comfort and entertainment, we seldom
feel the urge to get out. Nature is something we
see on the Discovery Channel or in National

In the process we have lost much. Our spirits need
that periodic communion with nature. I don't
advocate worship of nature, but contemplation of
the majesty of God's creation can only enhance our
appreciation of his power, wisdom and goodness.
The experience of being outdoors cannot be
digitally duplicated.

"The heavens declare the glory of God," wrote
David long ago, "and the firmament shows his
handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night
unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech
nor language where their voice is not heard"
(Psalm 19:1-3, NKJV).

David could write such beautiful prose because he
had experienced it firsthand. As a shepherd he
spent many nights gazing at star-filled skies,
considering the vastness of God's creation. He was
a better man for the experience.

In three of the gospels we're told that Jesus went
"to the mountain" (Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, John
6:15). In two of those references, prayer is the
explicitly-stated reason for going; in the other,
spiritual reasons are strongly implied. Why did
Jesus leave the comforts of a house to pray?
Obviously, he felt a closeness with his father in
the great natural cathedral.

Godly people who take time to meditate outdoors
will be drawn to greater depths in their
relationship with the Lord. When David took time
to "consider your heavens, the work of your
fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have
ordained," it was a segue to the larger questions:
"What is man that you are mindful of him, and the
son of man that you visit him?" (Psalm 8:3,4)
Confine David inside the cozy comforts of a
palace, however, and he will likely think more of
himself than of his creator.

Thank God for houses that protect us from the
elements that are sometimes harsh! But let us
thank him with equal zest for the great out-of-
doors. There we see, as in no other place, the
awesome power he wields, the incredible wisdom
that guides his acts and the goodness that is
everywhere proclaimed.

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