'Your jar is open'

The door leading to your next step of progress may already be open.

The bestselling novel "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd tells the story of 14-year-old Lily Owens and her struggle from a life of abuse and hopelessness to a family of love and a new sense of life.

At one point early in the story, after collecting bees in a jar, Lily sets them free. Instead of flying away, they buzz around inside the open jar for several hours. Later, Lily finds they've flown away.

Soon after this incident, following a particularly upsetting argument with her father that was laden with the threat of abuse, Lily heard a voice that said,

"Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open."

I love that message. It makes me think that whatever door we need to go through to take the next step of progress may already be open. And fear may be the only obstacle that holds us back or stands in the way. Fear grips us and hides possibilities. To realize that your "jar is open" can be the first step out of confinement.

I've found inspiration along those lines in a hymn by Anna L. Waring. The final verse reads:

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My Father has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.
("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 148)

However you say it – your "path in life is free" or "your jar is open" – it may not seem believable if you feel trapped, whether by a situation at home or at work or in a relationship, or by an illness. So what can you do if you feel stuck?

The poem holds a key: You won't walk alone. It promises, "He will walk with me." Freedom and God's presence go hand in hand. The Bible conveys the same message: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17).

What's even more significant is the fact that divine presence is with you even when you feel trapped. God's presence is constant; it isn't dependent on your circumstances. Realizing that and acknowledging it bring freedom. Speaking of God as divine Love, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Love is the liberator" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 225).

Understanding this and accepting it can provide the courage, insight, creativity, or whatever is needed to make this freedom practical and tangible. Stories abound of people who have been held as prisoners or hostages who, despite dire surroundings, were able to find peace of mind and, to some degree, inner freedom during imprisonment.

There's a wonderful biblical account of Paul and Silas in prison, singing praise to God while held captive in stocks. Their release soon followed (see Acts 16:19-40).

Whatever is hindering you from seeing that your "jar" is indeed open can be revealed and dealt with. Every recognition that God's presence goes with you can help melt away whatever is obstructing your path to progress.

I will bring the blind
by a way that they knew not;
I will lead them in paths
that they have not known:
I will make darkness
light before them,
and crooked things straight.
These things will I do unto them,
and not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16

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