Tonight I had the special honor of sitting amongst a small group of women all on their own personal spiritual journey to God. Many of these ladies have come looking for support, encouragement, growth, love and understanding. All have pretty similar stories... and all searching for more. There was such a beautiful innocence about each woman as they spoke with such vulnerability and listened with such compassion. After hearing everyone speak I was able to share my purpose and passion in life. I had the amazing opportunity at this point to speak life, truth and freedom in that place by telling them the story I've been sharing with you the last couple of days.
Since last week's tour of the underground railroad and civil war sites, I feel like God's given me physical representations of the spiritual battle for freedom. As I began to share with them tonight God began to reveal even more about His heart for His people and the world. You see, the interesting thing about the two camps of slavery and freedom is: that is your reality until told the other exists. If you are born in freedom then you have no clue what slavery really is unless you are faced with that reality in some way. And if you are born a slave... you might see freedom but have unbelief in it's attainability unless someone shows or tells you differently.
Ironically enough, one can actually be a slave living in freedom.... or an enslaved free person. I've been in prisons where men and women are behind bars, yet their spirit is soaring high. And I've met very wealthy people who can buy their freedom living outside those bars who are very much enslaved to their own greed. These are just examples representing many ways to look it.
Regardless of the situation, we have a choice to make. Our freedom is paid for.. do we accept it and walk in it? Do we acknowledge the chains and humbly ask the Lord to break them? Or do we allow ourselves to continue to be tangled in the enemy's web of lies and enslavement? Every chain is connected to a lie... and every lie is the direct opposite of what God's says about us. When we embrace true salvation in Him, we taste real freedom. This means that no physical bars or chains or circumstance could ever take this freedom away. We can choose to give up pieces of that precious freedom, but He doesn't give up on us!
As we walk in this victorious place of freedom Christ instills the passion, courage and desire to see others step out of their slavery. The closer we come in proximity to Him, the more we burn with His heart to see the world accept life that only He can graciously give us. The more we will not be able to tolerate the lies that cause this slavery... and the greater passion we will have to be apart of the rescue. Our purpose, like I shared with those lovely women tonight, is to be a modern day abolitionist sharing the freedom we have with others, fighting for justice, and pointing to the source of it all! In that freedom we share there is found the characteristic and nature of a loving and just God who is Sovereign in all His ways and who is who He says He is EVEN when we don't feel it or believe it.
And as my admirable friend reminded me this evening... above all else He cares about our heart. So all this talk I do about being whole is great, but the center of it all is Him. If we stare into His eyes even for a moment we'll see the reflection of our heart in them. The question is: is it turned towards Him?
All in all, my soul has been challenged this week by many: an abolitionist who risked it all to see slaves know really freedom, a group of women who are humbly in search of a true God who cares, parents who have understood that obedience is God's love language for many years, a friend who would give up the comfortable life just so she can be a mother to more orphan children, another friend who dedicates the majority of his time to making sure homeless people know they are loved, a guy who has battled with mental and physical sickness for the good part of his adult life but is now seeking complete freedom from the power of Christ in all areas, and this little 4 year old boy......
This precious boy can teach us so much. He knows what it's really like to go from an unwanted baby, to an orphan to an adopted child fully loved and adored. If anyone can tell you what it's like to be truly free, he can. Oh... how much glory God must receive from this innocent prayer of gratitude. Oh Lord, teach us how to pray like this thankful son of yours.
True freedom comes when we can praise and worship God for who He says He is! Sometimes we may not feel his protection, love, grace, mercy, or kindness... but His character never changes. We must remember it's not about us but about Him. And in His amazing goodness He lets us participate with Him in this beautiful journey of freedom and abundant life!
B90: (Amos 5:17- Micah 5:15) I absolutely LOVE the story of Jonah. Who doesn't? I mean... this kid lives in the belly of a freakin giant fish (possibly shark-some historians say) for three whole days!!!! This is such a divine picture again of God delighting in our obedience to Him and His desire for us to be able to be apart of the blessing! There are probably a billion lessons to learn for this small book, and I hope that you dig in deeper yourselves! God has so much mystery to reveal to us in His word... and simply reading it nourishes our soul.
This also reminds me of a little story my pops shared with me today. In this analogy God had told a man to push a boulder. This man pushed and pushed for days and weeks and months. Finally He got fed up with God and said, "God, I don't know why I am pushing this boulder for you... it hasn't budged a bit since I started." To that God replied, "I didn't ask you to move it, I just asked you to push it.... do you see how much stronger you are in every way?"
This man found freedom in letting go of His plan for this boulder and accepting God's plan for his own life... and Jonah found freedom in the belly of a whale (or some sort of large fish :). I love to see Jonah's heart soften in this place of vulnerability in the last few lines of his prayer..."Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what i have vowed i will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!" Jonah 2:8 &9