Alcatraz. Let images of the infamous prison stronghold on a windswept Pacific coast island roll through your mind. The most notorious criminal minds of the age were imprisoned here – men who could not be contained or controlled in any of the other maximum-security penitentiaries in the country: George “Machine Gun” Kelley, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud, Al Capone. Rigid discipline, gun galleries at each end of the cell block, twelve inmate counts per day, and a one to three guard to inmate ratio kept every prisoner under a watchful eye. Yet some escaped.
Officially, none of the 14 attempts were successful. But in 1962, three convicted bank robbers implemented an ingenious escape plan that has become one of the great mysteries of history. For months, the three convicts used sharpened spoons stolen from the cafeteria to tunnel through the cement walls of their cells into an unguarded utility corridor. On the night of June 11, they placed dummy heads crafted from a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair in their beds to fool the night guards and exited their cells. The three climbed utility pipes to the top of the cellblock and gained access to the roof through an air vent. Climbing down a drainpipe at the end of the cell house, they made their way to the water where a makeshift raft crafted from stolen raincoats and plywood awaited them. At approximately 10 pm, they entered San Francisco Bay never to be seen again.
Did they survive their escape attempt? Did they ever truly make it to freedom? We may never know. But we can learn from their effort and apply their creative tenacity to help us escape from our own personal prisons.
“What prison? I’m a tongue talking, Bible believing, tithing, praying Christian. I’m free!”
Right. What you really are is a prisoner with privileges. You are free to walk around outside your cell for short periods of time, but eventually, you return to your cell to be counted and confined just like all the other inmates. We are all imprisoned in our minds in some areas. Our cell walls are built out of pride, fear, insecurity, jealousy, rejection, and lust. The corridors of our thoughts are guarded by legalism, tradition, and religion. We are confined in our minds to the familiar routine of prison life. What is “out there?” What is beyond our confinement? There’s only one way to know…
It’s time to execute the plan. It’s time to leave the old image of ourselves behind on our beds. It’s time to sharpen our swords, using the Word of God to dig our way through the walls that confine us. It’s time for us to pray in the spirit, causing our spirit to rise above our flesh with all of the old guards of legalism, religion, and familiarity. It’s time to recognize that we have access to the Father through worship. It’s time for us to launch out into the deep by faith, trusting that His grace will usher us to new ground. It’s time to claim our freedom…
It’s time for a Prison Break!