Are You Walking in Circles?

The Prison Exercise Yard by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh has painted a most unusual theme -- the exercise yard in a prison. The colors used are a sickly green and brown -- reflective of the dismal scene at hand. Under the eyes of three guards the men walk aimlessly in circles around the bricked in yard.

The two men walking close to us have their heads up as if to plead with us. But the others march with head down and arms to the side or clenched in back of them. They march in circles -- around and around -- to keep their bodies fit. But fit for what? Life has lost its purpose, and its freedom. How long do they walk?

Have you lost your freedom? Are you in a prison and walking around in circles? Prisoners are in prison because they have disobeyed a law and got caught. We may not be in trouble with the civil authorities but we may have disregarded and disobeyed God's law. The consequences can be a prison of our own making no less constricting then the prison Van Gogh has painted.

Prison strips us of all that makes us a person and it forces us to march around and around the same circumstances. How do we get out? How do we quiet the mind numbing monotony of our prison yard?

We get a glimpse of the answer in the painting if we look up. Above the dreary, marching men there is day light flooding the walls. The light comes from above -- from outside the prison yard. This light, like God's light, wants to penetrate the prison yard of your life. As long as you look down or inside yourself you will not see God's light.

Notice about half way up the painting there is almost a horizontal line. Below that line the men walk in the shadows. It's not even good enough to just look straight ahead -- you still walk below the light. But if you look up a person can be lifted up. God alone has the light needed to flood the darkness and penetrate the shadows. He alone has the light to lift us from our prisons.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

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