“But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Nehemiah 9:36. The New living translation says it this way; we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land.” Verse 37 goes on to say, The lush produce of this land piles up in the hands of the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They have power over us and our livestock. We serve them at their pleasure, and we are in great misery.”
Have you ever found yourself a slave in the land of plenty, which was given for enjoyment? I know I sure have. The life I lived trapped in my food obsession kept me enslaved for decades. I watched and reeled as my husband battled his addiction. As I found myself addicted to him and the fate of our future. I earnestly prayed that my children would never become slaves to these vices that destroyed years of our lives. They stole our dignity, integrity and prosperity.
I was so enslaved to my thoughts and the” victim mentality” that I had walked in for so long that I had lost sight of the hopes and dreams designed for me, by the Almighty Creator. These are some of the ashes that He desired to draw beauty out of.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am a survivor, And it is true that terrible things happened to me and they will always be a part of the fabric of my life. Yet, I am more than the sum of my experiences. I am set free John 8:31. I am fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139:14.
As life bombarded me with mentally agonizing circumstances, out of my control, I fell prey to all that was negative. Negative thoughts and emotions. They occupied my mind constantly and consumed me. I didn’t pursue the necessary healing for my heart, soul and mind. The pain overcame me, yet I was afraid to process it. Afraid of the grief that I thought would swallow me up. I was alone and lonely. Often I was desperate to fill the voids and so I used many things to respond to my heart’s cravings. I longed to fill the caverns of sadness that I felt.
I didn’t know how to love. I didn’t understand how unconditional love even worked. Still today, although I believe myself to be a complex and passionate individual, I am so unsure what loving someone involves. I get hurt and I just want to shut down.
Than grace shows up and reminds me that God is trustworthy. That He put good in all of us and that our human connection is what draws us to one another. We use these connections to find our people. The ones that, with His Spirit’s prompting, make us the best versions of ourselves. And we learn to let go of the people who don’t bring out the best in us (or want the best for us).
So the question I have started to ask myself is this; Am I holding onto the past or is the past holding onto me?
There is this thing in the music world called a looper. If using this device, you take sounds and you layer them over and over each other. The sounds can be distorted a little and changed to some degree, however if you strip it back down, you are left with the sound that you started with. You can use this device to put the sound behind an entire song (as if you had a whole band) Tricky, right?
That is how it is in my mind sometimes. The part of my mind that processes at the level of fear and not wisdom. It loops these thoughts, layering them until I don’t know where it started or where it ends. I must enter the process of stripping it down and eliminating it. Both taking my thoughts captive and renewing my mind to begin to think about what God says of me. I want to be alert and sober minded because, my enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. In a sermon he preached entitled Lizards and Lies (part of the Triggered series) Pastor Steven Furtick has said it this way, “Man that lizard is loud!!”
This week, I took a surrender chip in our Wednesday afternoon Celebrate Recovery lunch meeting. You see, I am working diligently to not hold onto the thoughts that infiltrate my mind and try to drag me back to the land of plenty, where I will again live as a slave. This little blue chip, not magical by any stretch of the imagination, only has the power to remind me, of my commitment to me. This is not an easy road to travel, after living with those shackles on for so long. I can sometimes still feel them, even though they aren’t there any more. Phantom chains.
I cannot walk away from my past as if I have no responsibility to it and how I lived, what choices I made. I have to take complete responsibility for my part of things. Not even being a victim is an adequate excuse for letting sin into my life unaddressed. Sometimes I hurt people, I made some bad choices, but I wasn’t a bad person and I am not the same person anymore.
If you are reading this and you, like me, have been stuck in the lies that have kept you in great misery, let me encourage you that God sees you. He sees your heart and cares about your pain. He is the Great I am….not the indifferent I was. Let Him reach down through His grace and His love and touch your heart. If you even suspect that He has been recklessly pursuing you, stop and listen to His words. He loves you, right where you are. He isn’t keeping score about “how good” or “how bad” you have been. His fingerprints are all over you. He is an intentional God and He longs for a relationship with you. He hears your cries, you can call on Him and He will be right there. If you don’t know what that looks like it’s as simple as any other conversation you might have. Talk to God, He wants to hear from you. Confess that you don’t know what to do, confess that you are want to be saved. I needed to be saved from myself. I encourage you to read God’s word. If you are stuck in your past find a local Celebrate Recovery where you can meet together with other like-minded people who have been where you are.
But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. 2 Timothy 4:17
As I look back, and see my past, see the ruins, I am able to stop and worship the one who has brought me into this land. Where real freedom is. Godly sorrow has changed my life and I am living . Living proof. He is refining me. Reassuring me. He is redefining me. Rebuilding me.
Will you pray with me?
Papa, I am so grateful for your love. Love that is unconditional, that I do not even deserve. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that you put in front of me. I have been challenged so many times and each time I come to the end of myself, Your spirit comes in, hovers over my chaos and brings me back to Your shelter and my peaceful dwelling with You. I am not ashamed of my need for You and I am so completely in awe of how each time I surrender a part of me to you, whether it’s a part of my journey or some fragmented relationship that I am struggling with, You redeem it. You make all things new and Your Truth is forever changing me to love like You.
Father, if anyone reading this today, feels you tugging on their heartstrings, I pray they would confess their need for You to enter their hearts. Let them confess their sins and receive Your forgiveness. Jesus came to take die for us, to take our place. He rose from the grave three days later conquering death. We can be reconciled to You, let us accept this truth, believe it and receive salvation, in Your name.