Journey From Bondage to Freedom

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I’m in bondage. Fear has taken ahold of me. I’ll be honest with you readers it has been quite awhile since I have been able to go to church, mostly for health reasons but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be listening to the tape of the service and even longer since I’ve read my Bible. Some Christian Right? I known overwhelming fear and while watching “The Fighting Temptations” twice yesterday with two different friends, (I thought the movie would be a blessing to them, but I think it blessed me the most).  I needed what it shared, my church and being in the choir was the first blessing it gave me, remembering the joy for it. But then when my friends were gone came the real blessing facing hard ugly truths about myself, and this to share with you, also terrifies me, but I know honesty and transparency is what is required. So as my stomach churns, I progress.

Phillipians 4:6-7  “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” 

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to fear! That we are to put our trust in the Lord. It is that simple. He promises peace if we just trust, pray and thank Him, easier said than done.

I did say that I’m in bondage and yes that as I sit here I realize I have been most of my life. Fear has been the main underlying storyline of my life that, and a general feeling of unworthiness. This last week I’ve been drowning in fear.

Letting myself fear is a sin of not putting my trust in God the creator of the universe. How can I be so arrogant? Could it be that I feel unworthy of His love? His grace? His care? How can I say I put my faith, my salvation in His hands, yet I don’t trust Him with my health issues, with my families issues, with my friends? Do I really believe God to be the God of gods and the Lord of Lords? The Holy Father of the Son of God Jesus Christ who died for my sins? If I do how is it that this magnificent God is not worthy of my trust?

Matthew 6:25-26 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t so or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?”

You would think that these two verses, especially the last sentence would calm me and put my mind at ease; to know that the God of the universe thinks I’m of more worth than the birds of the air. I wish I could honestly tell you that the nerves in my stomach the overwhelming fear of the unknown has been comforted, it has not.

Matthew 6:27 “Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?”

Makes worrying seem rather futile doesn’t it? I know it does to me logically as well, but that doesn’t change the truth of what I’m really feeling, anxiety/fear/worry still.

Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was not adorned like one of these! If that’s how God cloths the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith?”

There it is again He will take care of us with not just adequate care, or good care, but adorned by God. He clearly tells us all over His word how much He loves and adores us. Yet my sin, my shinning folly is staring back at me from the words I’ve just typed, ” – you of little faith”. I’ve been out of a Bible study and of my own studying of the Word, away from church, and only talking with God for a very long time. I know our relationship needs more than that my faith has lessoned. I’ve fallen. My God help @me! Save me from the fear, the worry that permeates my being. Help me put my heath issues in your hand!

Matthew 6:31-34 “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

There is the answer on how to actively stop worrying! First we must make the decision to obey God by letting Him know what’s our my heart. Phillipians 4:6 “in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. ” We need communicate with our Lord, pour out whatever it is that is weighing us down, He wants to know it all. After all He already knows it – He’s waiting for us to let Him in. As I type this I realize I haven’t really been letting my Lord in. Father forgive me. Even better when we take everything by prayer and thanksgiving, making them known to God it will eliminate the worry!

Now before you call me crazy let me try to explain if it isn’t clear. When we give  our worries to God and thank Him for answering our answering our prayers (in advance) we have no need to take them back, thus causing us to worry that day. If we are tempted to take the item back we are commanded to pray in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, to let our requests be made know to God, it doesn’t say that there is any time limit. That we can only come to Him once a day, no! Our Father knows our frailties and loves us. He never slumbers or sleeps, available 24/7, 365, praise Him!

Better yet, that promise goes on to, Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Not only will God eliminate worry He will replace it with a peace that surpasses all understanding! How does that sound for a promise? All we have to do is come to God in prayer and thanksgiving. He is such a gracious Father. There is no way that we can comprehend His peace but to experience it is a blessing of being a child of the King.

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Once we’ve poured our requests to Him, He commands us not to worry, Matthew 6:34 “…don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  As the promise gives us peace, the command keeps us in the present. As Matthew 6:34 says, tomorrow (and as for that the next day and the next have/ [mine]) has enough worry for itself. The promise helps us stay in the present taking our requests to the Lord. The command protects us from living outside of the promise, which is what I was doing. Lord forgive my foolishness!

Joy – A Fellow SoJourner!

Faith or Fear

A lot of what I’m sharing today I got from a sermon from my pastor Mike Erre called “Faith in an age of Fear”.  I was so impressed by it that I decided to share it and my thoughts on it with you my readers.

Matthew 6:19-34 are our verses for today.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body if your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light but if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you to much more valuable tan they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers in the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans fun after all these things, and you heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The passage starts about storing up our treasures in heaven.  This is more than just talking about money but where your heart is.  What is your main focus on things of this earth which will decay or the things of God which will never decay?

Then Jesus puts it another way talking about the eye being the lamp of the body.  During Jesus day an unhealthy eye was one who was greedy and cheap and miserly.  The healthy eye was generous, helpful and thought of as good.  The healthy eye would be carrying out God’s will while the unhealthy would not.  One is storing up treasures in heaven the other on earth.

Then He talks about the serving of only one masters either God or money.  How we can’t have it both ways it’s either or.  Either your heart is with God and that is where your treasure is or your heart is elsewhere with some other idol here on earth where moth and vermin destroy and thieves can steal.  Since we can’t take it with us it is important we make the right choice.

Mike Erre made a very good point that in America we see the don’t worry passage and think God is going to give us good things and supply all that we need.  But there are Christians who love the LORD that don’t have food or drink or clothes what do we do about that?

He believes and I agree with him that the don’t worry follows the other passages in the same train of thought.  Let me try and explain the grass of the field is thrown in the fire it is not all good for the grass.  In that day and age the birds of the air were used for sacrifice again not all good for the birds.  What they do have in common is that they don’t worry about their food or death or anything they just exist as God intended them to.

Verse 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Could this verse in the light that bad things do happen to those that love God, actually mean by seeking his kingdom and righteousness that the things of the kingdom, peace in the midst of turmoil, faith in the face of fear, and joy in the midst of mourning are all ours to have?  Could it mean that there is an even more fulfilling and abundant life to be had than what we are told on this earth via commercials and peer pressure?  I believe the answer to be “Yes!”

I look with new eyes at the do not worry verses and realize that my hope is in God alone and whatever He has in-store for me His grace and mercy will be sufficient for me.

Lord God, let me walk boldly in faith and keep these scriptures ever present in my mind when I am tempted to fall away from a bold walk with you in my journey of faith.  I want to stand confident in Your power, grace, mercy and unchanging will. Lord help me to do just that and confront me when I falter.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

What Should People Be Saying About You?

In Proverbs 27:21 it says,

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

When I read this I got to thinking, what kind of life am I living?  Yes I get some very nice words for my blogs on occasion but is that enough?  What is God calling me to do?  I’m to be a light at the top of a hill.  A beckon that guides the way.  That is something people are grateful for and may even praise.  Not that I am anything of myself without God and ultimately all the praise goes to Him.  But am I causing people to praise Him?  I fear not.

I want my works to withstand God’s testing.  I want my Heavenly Father to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  I don’t want to be one that makes it as just one who barely made it through with what little effort put in burnt in the flames.

Lord, make me a powerhouse for You.  I want to hear the praises rise to glorify You and cause people to come to You by the droves.  Lord, give me a fire that burns within me that cannot be quenched.  Cause me to call those who don’t know You to You.  I want to be used mightily of You.

I know this is going to take work on my part and I’m ready to go into the hidden areas of my life and release them to You for healing and renewal.  I give You every part of me, the horrible parts of my past, the things that scare me about the present and the hopes and dreams and fears of my tomorrows.  They are all Yours Lord.  I put them and leave them at the foot of the cross.  Help me not to return to them unless You need me to to learn and grow, other than that I release them to Your mighty power and wisdom.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

God’s Greater than I

No big news here is it.  Or is it?  Are you like me finding yourself trying to do things on your own volition?  I’ve learned that when I do that I’m putting myself in the place of God with my pride and effectively saying that, “I’m great enough for this I don’t need You God.”  How foolish can I be?  There is nothing that isn’t something that God is intimately interested in.  He wants all of our lives and everything that is going on in our lives.  That’s how intimate He desires to be with us.

If you are married or have been you know how that spouse wants to know you in order to understand and know how best to help you with any of your quirks.  Well God is a gentleman and although He is God and knows already He won’t force Himself in where He hasn’t been invited.

When we fill ourself up with “I”, we lessen the room for God in our lives.  The room that He desires so much.

I found this photo on Facebook and it really inspired me.

It makes me think that possibly I should have titled this piece “God’s Greater than i”.  Using the “i” in referring to myself gives me the impression that i’m not so important and reminds me that someone else far greater than myself has my best interest at heart and He is the one that should be capitalized and given the prominence.

What does “He>i” really me?  To me, i must get out of God’s way in the plans He has for my life.  i must decrease as He increases in me.  In turning all the hidden places into His loving hands, i am humbling myself and decreasing and allowing God full reign in my life which is how it should be.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  –  2 Corinthians 12:9a

Although, this in context is regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh, I believe the statement from God to be true of the weaknesses that we may be fearful of letting  go and letting God take care of them.  Again a matter of pride.  Although it seems like fear and believe me I’d rather believe it was fear than an area of pride in my life but the thing behind the fear is pride.

Let me explain.  When we are fearful to turn our finances over to God or our children over to God or our spouse over to God or our job over to God or an addiction over to God, whatever it might be that we are fearful of, what is it that we are really saying?  I’m fearful because I can’t control these things and that scares me.  Now let’s look a little deeper into that fear logic says that, if we are fearful of something that is out of our control to turn it over to the one who is in control of everything would 1. Be the logical thing to do and 2. Would ease our spirits of the fear.  If these two things are true why don’t we do this?  Pride.  That hateful word.  We are not always logical beings and although it would be best for us to turn it over and let God have it, we hold on to it as if some how, sometime, some way, we will be able to fix it on our own.  Do you see the pride behind the fear now?  Even in our fearfulness we want to do it all on our own.

Perhaps you are riddled with guilt behind your fear that there is no way God could help you because you are so guilty.  Can I let you in on a secret?  You too have fallen victim to pride.  Who are you that what you have done is so bad that Christ cannot forgive you?  You must be someone special because Christ died and rose from the dead once and for all for the sins of all.

I think this says it all when it comes to pride and sin.

So here’s an idea, why don’t we stop the devil in his tracks and not allow him to trick us with this false pride anymore?  Why don’t we confess our sin of pride to the Lord and then ask Him what area of your life does He need entry in?  I’ve been doing this for a while and I can assure you He will let you know where He needs entrance.  Try and think of this as an exciting new adventure that you are taking with your lover for that is truly what you are doing with the lover of your soul.  I can attest that your relationship with the Lord will be a rich blessing and far more intimate than ever before.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart

The Truth Will Set You Free

It is no fun living in bondage.  As a believer that has lived under bondage for far too long let me encourage you to take your fears to the cross and ask Christ for wisdom in what the truth is that has you bound.

With the help of my counselor I did that today and learned a lie that I had been believing for far too long.  The enemy knew my past, something I had hidden much of from myself as a means to cope, and was using it to keep me in bondage.

Today for the first time in decades of therapy  I was strong enough to look at some very difficult things.  It’s not that I hadn’t had inklings that these things had happened but with no memory I doubted myself.  The Lord very graciously brought these things back to memory for me today and with that truth came freedom.

I finally became aware of the lie I had been believing the majority of my life, “If I was pretty, men would hurt me.”  I have been the victim of multiple rapes starting at the age of 10.  But until today, I only had suspicions of them and no actual memories.  God is His goodness knew two things today.  One that I was now strong enough to handle the truth and two that I needed to know the truth for real healing to happen.  I feel finally as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  The self-doubt, questions, confusion is all gone now that I know the truth.

No I would prefer that this had not happened to me but knowing it, explains so many things in my life.  Why as soon as I start getting thin and getting compliments on how pretty I look I turn to food in an attempt to alter my appearance.  Since I believed the lie, “If I’m pretty, men would hurt me.”  I did what I could to make myself unattractive.  Yet another part of me wanted to feel and look pretty because I equated it with love.  Definitely not the right kind of love.

When I had blossomed to 350 pounds I hated myself and the very sight of me.  I avoided mirrors and the scale.  I didn’t want to know the truth of how bad it had gotten.  The things that I wanted to do to myself are too horrible to mention.  Suffice it to say I was miserable. Now 98 pounds lighter I’m learning to love myself.  I’m still not satisfied with my weight but I am hopeful with todays revelation I will stop sabotaging myself on my journey to a healthy weight.

Isn’t this picture true we are the elephant with God’s help big enough to escape the bounds of these chains and these chains are the enemy and all his lies tricking us into thinking that we are stuck in our bondage.

This is the biggest revelation God has given me about how the truth truly does set you free.  I’ve been in bondage to food and I feel it grip released on me.  I praise God for that.  I know that it is nothing of my own it is totally from Him and the gift of showing me the truth of my life.

My part was to be willing and open to His guidance.  Isn’t that all He asks of us on a daily basis?  After this revelation my fear has gone and I’m more willing to trust Him and His will for my life, wherever that takes me.

My hope for you is that you didn’t have to go through the same things I have.  But I also hope that you will learn to be open to God’s guidance and free from fear.  I also pray that you learn the blessed truth of how the truth really does set you free.  So don’t be fooled like the elephant be the triumphant child of God that you are!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 8

Diane worked 11pm to 3pm that day and thanks to Flossy, news had reached the hospital. Diane went to Lynn’s school straight from work to see how she was holding up. Lynn was busy talking to the teacher’s aide with her back to the door. Once the aide left the room Diane grabbed a nearby chair. When Lynn saw Diane she fell in her arms and wept. Diane stroked her hair and kept repeating “We’ll get through this Lynn, we will get through this.”

Eventually Lynn’s crying subsided and she asked, “Does everyone know what happened?” “I don’t know about everyone but I do know that it has reached the hospital. Lynn not that it changes our friendship and how much I care for you but just so I know how to support you were you raped and did you go through an abortion?” “Yes it is all true.” moaned Lynn. “My boyfriend at the time was drunk and forced himself on me.” A quizzical Diane asked, “Why would Lora betray your confidence like that?” “I’ve been seeing Kenneth Randolph; he turned out to be the new counselor at school. He started the Monday after we meet him at the bar; we’ve been having lunch every day since then. I finally told Lora about it and asked her forgiveness for not asking her permission to see him but she blew up and decided I had destroyed our friendship.” Diane consoled, “I’m so sorry that Lora has decided to do this act of revenge to you.”

Concerned but not wanting to hurt Lynn, Diane ventured, “I’ve known that something has been gnawing at you since college but I never knew how to talk to you about it. I also noticed that you’ve always been on the thin side and life gets stressful you get almost scary thin. I realize now I should have spoken to you in college about the weight thing. I also noticed that at times you would spend a lot of time in your room almost like you were hiding from the rest of the world. Where you hiding?” Lynn answered, “The hiding thing yeh maybe. The thing gnawing at me you now know even Ken mentioned it, is it that obvious?” “I don’t think it’s obvious, only those closest to you would see that deep into your soul.” Diane said.

Lora facing away from the door didn’t see Ken pop in to check on her. Diane gave a quick knowing look assuring him she had things under control. He slipped out and left the two friends alone. Lynn said rather insulted and annoyed, “As for the eating thing I think you are way off base Diane. Just because I eat healthy and don’t have a big appetite like other people and have small bones people think that I’m too thin. I’ve never been too thin in my life! If anything I have had trouble keeping my weight down.” “I’m sorry Lynn; I didn’t mean to hit a nerve with you.” Diane caring for Lynn ventured at the risk of their friendship, “Have you ever dealt with all of this or have you hidden it away hoping it would go way?” “I’ve done my best to put it behind me hoping never to have to think or hear about it again.” replied Lynn. “It might be hard to understand this right now since this has come to light it could be an opportunity for healing.” suggested Diane. Lynn looked at her in shock and horror. “I don’t want to look at this!” Diane continued, “Lynn have you allowed yourself to grieve over the loss of choice? Curtis robbed you of that choice the moment he forced himself on you?” Lynn moaned, “No, I never allowed myself to completely face it. I cried that night and the next day and that was the last of it.” Once again Diane tested their friendship, “That is not all he robbed you of have you grieved the loss of your virginity?” “No.” groaned Lynn.

Diane risked Lynn’s repercussion once more, “Have you ever grieved the loss of your child?” Lynn hadn’t thought of it but the question put it together for her, she replied, “It never occurred to me but I did feel dead and empty inside after the abortion. I couldn’t talk to Lora about it she thought of it as something to just get over with and so did I until it was over. I never imagined that I would feel even worse after the abortion than I did before it. I wish I had carried it and given it up for adoption.” Diane sympathized, “Lynn I’m so sorry, what you went through was hard enough, the fact that you had to do it alone is even worse. I know that I can’t do anything to change your pain but I want you to know that whenever you want to talk about any of this I am here for you.” Lynn felt relieved she had a friend to talk to when she was ready. She responded “Thanks Diane, I’ll take you up on that but right now I’m more concerned about how these revelations are going to impact my life now. Such as what will Curtis do now that this is out?” Diane replied, “We will deal with each fall out of these revelations as they occur.”

Noticing Lynn’s drawn face and tired eyes Diane said, “You look spent. Would you like to get some dinner so you don’t have to cook or I could bring some take out over?” Wanting to be alone Lynn answered, “Thanks, but I think I just want to take a nice long hot bath and go to bed early maybe I’ll have some yogurt and carrots for dinner.” “Try to eat a little more than just that for dinner you will feel better.” ventured Diane. Lynn quipped, “Thanks Diane but I’m a big girl, and I know how to fix my own dinner.”

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 7

A few days later Lynn got a call from her mom. “Lynn, your dad and I got a letter from Lora, sweetheart she writes that you told her that Curtis raped you and that you got pregnant and she took you to get an abortion. Honey your dad and I are not judging you but we want to know if what she wrote us is true?” Lynn was stunned; she didn’t know what to do. “Lynn are you there?” asked her mom. “Yes mom, um the answer to your question is yes. That is why I broke up with Curtis on New Years. That’s the night it happened.” replied Lynn, her stomach was all in knots. “Mom, who else knows?” “I’m not sure honey but all I do know is she sent letters to dad and I and the boys but I don’t know who else Lora wrote letters to. Lynn, I’m so sorry you didn’t feel comfortable or safe enough coming to us with this. I can only imagine how painful, scary and frightening this must have been for you.” There was the sound of tears in her mom’s voice. Changing thoughts, she asked, “What happened that she would turn on you?” “Oh mom, she’s getting back at me, I’ve fallen in love with a man,” cried Lynn “that she spent the night flirting with and I didn’t get permission to date him from her first. She is furious with me and I can see that by what she’s done she was serious about me ruining our friendship over a man. I don’t want to lose her but I think that Ken could be the one. Mom I’m so torn on what to do.” Trying to sooth Lynn her mom responded, “You and Lora have been through a lot together and hopefully this will get straightened out, but if you really believe that this man is the man for you, I would say to follow your heart.” her mom continued. “Lynn, I also want you to know that your dad and I love you and we support you, especially if the rape and abortion gets broadcast even more. Whatever fallout Lora is working on we are here for you.” “Thanks mom and let dad know how much I appreciate his support. I have a feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better. Excuse me mom but I really must get a hold of Ken before someone else does.” said Lynn.

She tried calling Ken at home but she got his machine. Then she tried his cell phone but he wasn’t picking up. She was apprehensive as she drove to school, parked and walked to his office. She knocked tentatively on his door and he welcomed the knocker in. Ken looked up from a pile of folders on his desk when she walked in. She was even more nervous when she saw him. He came out from behind his desk and took her in his arms saying, “Hi sweetheart, I think I know what you’ve come to talk about but I’m really swamped and I want to give you my full attention, so how about having our usual lunch?” Much relieved Lynn said, “That sounds fine to me.” After a soft gentle first kiss that sent chills through Lynn’s body, she went to her classroom elated.

Lunch couldn’t come soon enough for Lynn. She was barely aware of teaching English; she was watching the clock so much. At the park Lynn started with, “Have you heard some unpleasant things about me?” She didn’t know how else to broach the subject. Ken took Lynn’s hand and looked in her eyes and said in a matter of fact way, “Lynn, there is a rumor that you were raped or more accurately the rumor is that you said you were raped and that you had an abortion. Whether that is true or not I still feel the same way about you darling and we will get through this together.” Lynn felt so comforted by these words of affection, she admitted, “It is true that my high school boyfriend raped me and I got pregnant. I couldn’t face any of it so I got an abortion and never told anyone about it except Lora. Now that she knows about us she’s lashing out. She is using this as a weapon hoping to split us up and destroying my reputation. How is this going to affect us? Will this jeopardize my teaching position? What will be Curtis’ reaction? What is everyone thinking about me?”“Lynn I have seen something in your eyes for a long time now that looked painfully haunting and now I know what it was.” Ken admitted moving a little closer to her, “As far as this affecting us don’t worry my darling we will get through this together. You will always have me by your side and there is nothing that anyone can do that the two of us can’t handle together.” He said as he held the sobbing Lynn.