What I know about escape rooms I learned from television, which is probably not the best source of information. Basically, several years ago, someone came up with the idea of locking a group of people in a room with a timer running, and providing them with a series of clues which leads to the key to unlock the room and escape. How this is fun I will never know?! Watching different television casts from both reality shows and sitcoms try and finagle their way out of these escape rooms though, is quite entertaining. One, brainy group from a popular sitcom managed to intellectually think their way free in record time, defeating the whole fun aspect of it. Another family sitcom crew ran around franticly and ended up in a panic, expending all of their energy but never finding even the first clue let alone escaping. Yet, another backwoods reality tv cast literally broke their way out of the room with a bat!
Every now and again, circumstances come our way that make us feel like we are trapped in an escape room. All the doors are barred shut, and we are left there alone, wondering how and when we will ever get out. We try and think our way out but then just get frustrated. Or the feeling of being trapped and having to wait, gives way to panic and we run around frantically trying every possible thing, while the key is usually right under our noses. Finally, when all else fails some of us resort to the good old, break out with a bat method, which really defeats the purpose.
Lately, our personal lives have seemed like an endless trail of escape rooms. Just when one door opens, rather than finding escape, we discover yet another room with more clues and mysteries. As the rooms become more complex and the time keeps passing by we are tempted time and again to try and figure a way out, give in to despair or just force a way out!
We are finding a lot of hope as we delve into examples and experiences of escape rooms in Scripture. We see God putting His people in a series of places where there is no clear way out. There, we see Him meeting these people where they are at and opening a way in His time. We also see how the individuals handled the escape rooms and what ultimately led to their deliverance.
If ever a whole people group was in an escape room scenario, it was the people of Israel. They found themselves trapped at the Red Sea – water before and the armies of Pharaoh behind. After a round of panic and despair, Moses called out to God and his directions to the people were to:
“…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…”Exodus 14:13
Then, from that place of rest, God opened a door of escape, right through the Sea itself!
Next, there is David. He was in more escape rooms than just about anyone else in Scripture. Time and again, he found himself trapped with no way out. Psalms 55 could be called the ESCAPE ROOM PSALM. David is in a tight spot:
So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest”Psalms 55 :6,7
But, he doesn’t stop there, later on in the Psalm, after describing the torment of the enemy without and within that are holding him prisoner, his focus changes and he cries out to God. He knew that God alone could redeem the situation, and when he cast this huge burden on the Lord, He alone could sustain him and keep him from being moved.
“As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening, morning and noon will I pray and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.”Psalm 55:16-17
Some of the most powerful escape room stories are found in the book of Daniel. First, in chapter 3, we see Daniel’s three companions being thrown into a fiery furnace for their beliefs. Now, that is a REAL escape room of impossibility. Here, we begin to see another element to God’s escape rooms. His presence in the midst of the suffering. There was another in the fire with them, protecting them and granting them grace and rest until a way out was made.
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”Daniel 3:25
Then, Daniel had his own experience of an escape room in chapter 6, this one with darkness and hungry lions to make it more interesting. Once again, God met him there, sending his angel to shut the mouths of the lion and providing rest in the midst of the darkness and waiting.
“And my God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me”Daniel 6:22
The New Testament as well, gives us glimpses into several escape room scenarios. In Acts 12 we find Peter in prison and an angel coming and leading him right past the guards and setting him free. Then, in Acts 16, Paul and Silas, experiencing such peace in the midst of a tough situation, were found singing and praising God. Suddenly, God showed up and literally shook their bonds off and opened the doors (physically and spiritually)! Paul, more than once speaks of an angel of the Lord being with him to comfort and strengthen him whether his escape room was a prison cell or a tempest-tossed ship!
“For there stood by me this night, an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.”Acts 27:23
What do each of these scenarios have in common? What can they teach us about our typical human approaches of thinking, panicking or breaking our ways out of our divinely appointed escape rooms.
- For those of us who like to think our way out, these examples remind us that our confidence must be in the Lord and NOT not in our own understanding or intellect to figure a way out. Sometimes our own intellect and pride can get in the way of the things that God is trying to teach us.
- For those of us who are prone to despair and panic our way out, these examples remind us that we must shift our focus from our circumstances to the One who is standing with us in the fire, holding back the sea, and stopping the mouths of the lions. We need to lean hard upon Him and cry out to Him for deliverance, NOT allowing despair to overtake us (and if crying isn’t working, maybe we should just start singing and praising like Paul and Silas :)).
- For those of us who want to break our way out, we are reminded to stand still, rest and see the salvation of our Lord. His timing is crucial and perfect and His ways and purposes far beyond ours! Premature escape of our own doing isn’t always the escape we think it is!
So, whether you are a thinker, panicker, or breaker-outer, God wants to take the escape rooms that He has designed for a purpose and plan and turn them into embrace rooms (I was going to say rest rooms but that just didn’t have the right connotation :)). The patience, the strength in weakness, the miracles He wants to do on our behalf, are all part of his embrace plan for us. May we follow the examples of those who have gone before and lean hard into the One who’s set the timer, knows the way out and holds the key to our escape/embrace room experience!