Harry Houdini was perhaps the greatest escape artist this world has ever known. His name still lives on the lips of world renowned escape artists, and his enigmatic persona is still influential to professional magicians everywhere.
Houdini perfected the skill of physical escape from seemingly impossible devices and situations; all while audiences looked on with breathless anticipation. He dazzled the masses with escapes designed to push the boundaries of physical human ability.
Whether he was being placed upside down in a vat of water, or he was hoisted by his feet with a crane while bound in a straight jacket, Houdini never failed to satisfy. One of his escapes even involved his body being placed in a giant paper bag, from which he emerged without ripping the paper. 1
Escape in the physical realm can often be accomplished through practice, knowledge, and physical flexibility, but in the spiritual realm it’s not so simple. There are people in this life who sincerely desire to follow God, but they have disillusioned themselves into believing that they, like Houdini who escaped from physical chains, can escape the chains of sin through their own effort.
They say things like, “I’ve got to do better,” or “I’ve got to try harder,” or “From now on I promise that I …” The belief is that if they try hard enough, they will somehow escape the clutches of sin that have bound them for so long. These exercises in spiritual “escapism” are emotionally, spiritually, and often physically exhausting because one of two possible scenarios can occur.
1. They fail miserably to make the necessary changes and get discouraged by their weakness.
2. They actually succeed in a behavioral change and begin to believe that their promises are valid, even though an inner change has not taken place.
The Scriptures tell us that escaping from our sinful selves is virtually impossible if we intend to accomplish it on our own. In Jeremiah we are told that it is no more possible for us to escape this condition, than it is for a leopard to escape the spots that punctuate his fur. Our sinful condition is not just something that we do, it’s who we are, and there has to be a better way. There is!
“The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet” (James 4:10).
The submission of our entire lives to the Divine Creator is the only escape from our dreadful situation, and it involves more than behavior manipulation. Only God can re-create us, and when we have allowed this to happen, escape will come from the inside out.