If you type the words “glass ceiling” into google or YouTube you will find lots of references to how this term is used to describe the experience of women who have found it difficult to secure some of the more lucrative and prestigious jobs in industry. Even though they are as qualified as their male peers, it seems there is some kind of invisible barrier that prevents their progression.
The “glass ceiling” effect is one that can act as powerfully restrictive in any area of life whether we are male or female.
How can we break through the restriction that is imposed by the “glass ceiling” effect?
If we are going to break through the kind of restriction that tries to muzzle the kingdom of God, we need to recognise that restriction. Recognising the shape of our restrictions is key if we want to break through our restrictions. In Mark 3.1-6, and indeed throughout the gospels, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. He wasn’t supposed to do that, and there was a powerful body of opinion that disapproved of Him doing that.
You can usually recognise where restriction is by the reaction of others to your good intentions. To break those restrictions, you might have to risk disapproval.
Secondly, to break out of restriction sometimes you have to take a reverse journey.
In the story of the prodigal son, the wayward boy comes to his senses while eking out an existence as an impoverished pig farmer in a foreign country (Luke 15.17-20)
He would have spent the rest of his days in hungry restriction had he not decided to make a reverse journey home.
Sometimes breaking out of restriction means that we have to retrace our steps. Heal some relationships. Build some bridges. Mend what has been broken.
Thirdly, breaking out of restriction might mean resisting intimidation. Hebrews 11 says that Moses left Egypt not fearing the King’s anger v.27). It took faith to do that. We have to face the fear challenge if we are going to break out of restriction. Whatever that fear might be.
Finally, breaking out of restriction can entail redeeming our restrictive set of circumstances.
After years of serving God, and after two years in prison, Paul could say when testifying to King Agrippa: “But I have had God’s help to this very day” (Acts 26.22). Paul might have been restricted in his physical circumstances, but he was not restricted in his mind. Why? Because he understood that God was working redemptively through the circumstances in which he found himself.
Restriction is a state of mind as much as it is anything else. Even when we can’t change our circumstances we can expect God to work redemptively through them.