Break Free – Running Hard to Nowhere

The Second Message in the Break Free series.

All month we are talking about breaking free from the sin, addiction, despair, and grief that holds us back from the joy, purpose, and peace that Christ came to bring us.  This week we’ll be discussing how we are typically running hard to nowhere and guidance the Bible offers. These messages lead up to our Break the Chains event on the 28th. Please plan to join us for this special day as we welcome guest speaker Jim McComas.

Find the rest of the messages from this series here.

 Sermon Video




On March 17th, 2008 four inmates accomplished quite a fete. They completed a tunnel from the inside of their cell to just outside the second fence of the Kinross Prison in Michigan. It had taken two years of work. They first had to break through 7 inches of concrete using a drill bit and a broken chair leg to create holes and then eventually a hand weight.
Then they filled bags with dirt each night, moving them back into the tunnel using just a cereal bowl as a shovel. They would spend 3 hours of the night just moving the bags out of the tunnel so they could resume the work. Towards the end of the evening they would move the bags back out of the cell and into the tunnel while cleaning the floor to avoid detection.

They had lined up a getaway driver to pick them up when they popped out on the other side of the fence in the middle of the night. He would cover the hole with a piece of cardboard, a sheet, and snow spread across the top. Though their tunnel was complete and they had done an incredible job of hiding their work, but there was still one problem. Their getaway driver couldn’t make it.

They postponed their escape one week. They had worked for two years so they figured they could wait one more week for everything to be just right. However, on March 23rd, the day before their escape, there was a random inspection and their hole was discovered when a guard stepped between two bunks and felt a soft spot in the floor. Two years of hard work all through the night, and they didn’t make it because there was no one who could meet them on the other side. No one could carry them to freedom. All 4 were given additional years on their sentences and thrown in the hole.

Reading that story, I thought of the many people I know who are working incredibly hard, running incredibly hard trying to break free from the brokenness in their lives. They’re trying to get sober, trying to experience change, trying to find happiness, or trying to achieve peace and contentment, but getting nowhere fast.

They’re working hard, but when they pop through on the other side, if they make it that far, there’s nothing waiting for them.

There’s just more work and more running.

Today, as we talk about Breaking Free, I want you to see first and foremost, that all of the hard work in the world will not get us anywhere if there isn’t someone on the other side.

Last week Eric did a great job showing us that experience will not make us better at life- that it’s not the accumulation of experience and age that will bring us the change and freedom we seek- Today I want to show you that it’s not hard work either-

Some people think, this is my year because I’ve had enough experiences and learned from enough mistakes that I’m ready to get it right this year-Others think, I just didn’t try hard enough last year- this year I’m determined, this year I’m going to give 110%, I’m going to put my all into it this year…

Experience and Hard Work are virtues- they’re beneficial- they’ll take you far in life, but they will not get you where you hope. They are not able to give you new life, they are not able to break you free- to break free, you must reach the person of Jesus Christ.

I just finished a book written by Cheryl Sandberg. She was an executive at two small companies you’ve probably never heard of, Google and Facebook, and is an incredibly successful woman. A few years ago her husband died suddenly of a heart attack in his early 40’s. Her world turned upside down. She had written a book for women looking to lead, spoke at conferences, but now she found herself lost, unsure how to find her way through the grief, and even more importantly, how to lead her two small children through the grief of losing their father. In the book, she writes about love, purpose, and community being the greatest benefits. She shares the story of her friend, who through the process of serving the family in their grief, found freedom for herself from addiction. Her friend told her she had realized-

“You can’t outrun any addiction. You must heal, and that takes a love no one can provide for you.”

I want to change that just a little bit, and make it the synopsis of my message this morning.

You can’t outrun or outwork despair.You must heal, and that takes the love of Christ.

I believe that we get to watch one of Jesus’ disciples learn this in real time through the account of Jesus’ time here with us.We are given several interactions between Peter and Jesus. Many of them are heartbreaking and relatable. Peter makes strides and then makes a fool of himself. Peter seems to get it and then forget it. He’s like us. Let’s start at the beginning of Peter and Jesus’ relationship in


Peter had just been fishing all night. He had worked hard.He was putting away his nets, washing them, cleaning them…Picking the seaweed and sticks out them…I’m sure that’s one of the least enjoyable parts of a fisherman’s job, even more so when you’ve fished all night and caught nothing…Peter says, “Master, we have toiled all the night,” Toiled- we’ve labored. We’ve tried, given it our best shot, and done all we can do…”

It wasn’t a matter of a lack of work and effort. Peter was a fisherman. If anyone knew where the fish were, if anyone knew when and where to catch the fish, it was these guys. It wasn’t a matter of a lack intellect and know how…But to appease Jesus they go back out and let down their nets, and the nets were so full of fish they couldn’t haul them in,

Jesus very simply and effectively showed Peter in a moment that everything he was working so hard for, Jesus could provide as an afterthought.

In that moment, Peter comes to believe that Jesus is powerful enough that he can summon in a moment what Peter couldn’t accomplish in a lifetime-

That’s what needs to happen for you this morning- you need to see that what you have been working so hard for, what you’re giving all your effort to, what you’re trying so desperately to do,
to overcome,
get over,
leave behind,
to build, buy, or even become…

But Peter had to come to a another realization, and that one would take some work, it would be a process… Peter had to realize that he was welcome to be with Jesus and experience this power and majesty… Because look at what Peter says next,

Peter falls before Jesus and says, depart from me- I don’t deserve to be near you…

When Jesus demonstrated his power, when Peter was convinced of Jesus’ power, what he next had to come to believe is that he was welcome to be in the presence of Jesus. As these beliefs sunk in, Peter experienced a profound change. Peter was suddenly different deep in the marrow of his bones, so much so, that he walked away from the livelihood that he had known for years.

11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.


Suddenly, Peter has a break through. He breaks free from the toil and struggle. He didn’t just find a new way to fish, he didn’t find an easier way to get what he wanted, he found a whole new direction and purpose in life.

I’m sure many people would have said, Jesus what’s your secret? What’s your secret for finding all those fish? Jesus please tell me the 6 principles I need to know to catch more fish than anyone else, please give me the 4 keys to unlocking unlimited fishing potential in my life…

That’s how many people look to God, they say, I want to break free from my income level, I want to break free from the difficulty in my life, and they want to come to God for help or for gifts- but what Jesus offers Peter is not help or fish, Jesus offers Peter a completely new life.

Let me tell you a story that I think will help you see what I mean here….

Carlos Whitaker is a Christian Musician and I recently heard him tell a story about his father. His father is a pastor and he was holding a revival service somewhere. On the first night a lady came forward who he knew was a faithful member of the church. He assumed she was praying for her children or grandchildren and asked him to pray with her. He said what can I pray with you about? She asked that the Lord would help her clean the cobwebs from her heart and mind. The pastor took this to mean that her faith had become dusty and familiar. He thought that she needed to revive her relationship with the Lord, to clean out the cobwebs and start anew. So he prayed with her…
The next night of revival she came forward again, again she asked him to pray the same thing with her. He prayed with her. The third night she came forward again, and once again she asked for the same prayer. He said, no ma’am. She was surprised, what?

He said, I will not pray that God cleans out the cobwebs. I am going to pray that he kills the spider!

Some of you are facing the same cobwebs you’ve faced before. You’re facing the same battles you’ve already lost and you’re asking God to help you win this one. You’re asking God to help you clean up the cobwebs again. Jesus didn’t just come to clear out the cobwebs, he came to kill the spider.

Jesus didn’t come to help you with a battle, He came to win the war.

Some of you are in the crisis of the month club, and its the gift that keeps on giving!  Stop living from crisis to crisis, stop circling the same problems again and again!

How do I do that?Look at what Peter and the others did in verse 11.

11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

They left their boats, their nets, their profession, they forsook all and followed Jesus!

When Peter recognized Jesus’ power and realized he was welcomed near Jesus, he left all to be near him. 

He took a leap, He stepped out in faith, and followed Jesus.

To Break Free and avoid running hard to nowhere, we must run toward Jesus.

In the old testament we are told the story of a group of people that are a lot like us. They kept making the same mistakes over and over again.

They doubted God could bring them to the promised land so they wandered in the desert for forty years. Finally the time came to move forward. They finally stepped out to believe that God would deliver them.

First thing that they had to do was cross the Jordan River. The Jordan river was no creek. It was a river, and we believe they crossed when it was at its highest…

When the feet of the priests touched the water, the water stood still upstream and allowed them to cross.

God made heaven and earth and the Jordan stand still while they crossed.

Joshua had twelve men grab large stones from the bottom of the river to stack up on the other side. This was a monument to remember how God delivered them whenever they were tempted to doubt.

Truth is that most of us have monuments in our lives, but they’re monuments we’ve made to failures and disappointments…

We’ve memorialized the worst moments in our lives and we come back to them again and again and again….

This morning, I would love for you to step out and trust Christ. Instead of looking back on all the disappointments, I’d love for this to become a new and better monument. I’d love for you to look back on this moment as the moment of deliverance….

But you’ve got to take that step.

Looking for a church in the Evansville area?

We’d love to have you join us for worship this Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00!
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