Accordingly he returned to the house in which he had formerly dwelt and no one opposed him; nay, rather, all aided the man of God with gifts and food, as far as lay in their power. Nor did he lack defence, because in all things he had the aid of the Creator...Thus truly He shows by granting all things to all men, that He wishes to be glorified by all in proportion to the greatness of his gifts.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban, Italian, 7th century
Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
- 1 Corinthians 3.21-23
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Ephesians 4.1-3
At this point in his narrative, Jonas reports the attempt of the Gaulish court to send into exile the ever-irritating Columbanus. His preaching and meddling in the lives of the king and his court had reached a tipping point with the powers-that-be. Arrested and taken prisoner, Columbanus was put on a ship to be sent back to Ireland.
However, the ship foundered in the channel, and could proceed no farther. So Columbanus simply “returned to the house in which he had formerly dwelt” and continued his ministry.
Called of God to give up his comfortable life of teaching in Ireland, Columbanus had come to Gaul to establish a beachhead and outpost for the Kingdom of God. He riled clergy and king alike, not only because of his fearless preaching, but because the example of his life and his vision of the Kingdom attracted multitudes to his monastery to learn from him.
The king could try to ship Columbanus back to where he’d come from, but Columbanus was no man’s prisoner; rather, in the Lord he possessed everything he needed in order to fulfill his calling, regardless of his circumstances.
Paul was the same way. Even as he was taken captive by Rome and had to endure many years of trial and transport, he continued his ministry and was provided for by all the saints of the Lord who had benefited from his teaching.
Paul may have been shackled to Roman guards, but he was no man’s prisoner. He was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, and happily so; and nothing could keep him from pursuing his ministry, just as nothing kept Columbanus from fulfilling his calling in Gaul, before moving on to Switzerland and Italy, where he died in 615 AD.
How easy it is for us to allow circumstances, fear, or comfort to clap us in chains and keep us from serving the Lord. We can’t find the time to do the work of ministry because we’re busy doing things that matter less. We don’t have the strength to go the extra mile because we’re worn out from pursuing self-interested endeavors. We miss opportunities to serve others because we are slaves to inattention and laziness, and we are unwilling to become equipped for ministry (Eph. 4.11, 12). We let our Personal Mission Field, to which we have been sent as sowers of grace and truth, lie fallow, while the weeds of the world overgrow and clutter all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
We are prisoners to time, distractions, sloth, unbelief, and disobedience, rather than prisoners of the Lord.
God calls us to seek His glory in proportion to the gifts and opportunities He bestows on us. Whether your Personal Mission Field is broad and far-flung or primarily local and familial, God can use you for His glory. But as long as you remain a prisoner to anything other than King Jesus, you will founder in your calling, squander your talent, and fail to make the most of your time for Christ and His Kingdom.
Let us be prisoners of Jesus only, for then we will know the liberating power of His love and truth to work in and through us for His glory.
1. Whose prisoner are you? How do you know?
2. How will you serve King Jesus today?
Psalm 142.7 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Out of prison lead me, Lord; thanks and praise to You shall be.
Righteous men armed with Your Word will Your grace bestow on me.
Lord, You are my Refuge strong!
O receive my plaintive song!
Take me prisoner, O Lord, in whole and in part, and use me to glorify Your Name as I…
Personal Mission Field
Where is your Personal Mission Field? Listen to Jesus: “Lift up your eyes!” (Jn. 4.35). Your Personal Mission Field is all around you, right where you are. Please watch this brief video (click here). Receive the gift of your Personal Mission Field. Break out of every chain that keeps you from working your Personal Mission Field every day. Let Jesus lead you out of the prison of neglect into the glorious liberty and fruitfulness of serving Him in all things.
We pray that, if Crosfigell ministers to you, you’ll consider sharing with us in the financial support of our ministry. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Jonas, pp. 80, 81.