Freedom has been on my mind recently.
I posted recently about some of my past experiences with spiritual warfare, but I’m feeling the need to share what I am presently experiencing. Because it’s been bothering me so much, I’m thinking I must not be the only one, and it’s an important message to share.
But I like sharing in past tense better. I guess my pride likes to make it sound as though I don’t struggle with stuff anymore. Ha! We’ll remedy that by being painfully honest here…
The truth is, I’ve been challenged over and over and over again this past winter to gain control over my thought life. You may have noticed the theme of “worry” coming up often on my blog, the reason being I struggle with fear and anxiety and worry running away with my thoughts so often, you’d think I’d be exhausted and sick of it.
Actually, I am. I was reading books about it, praying, and struggling through it, trying to fight the good fight against all those thoughts, without feeling like I was making much progress.
One night my emotional upheaval reached such a climax, it suddenly struck me that I was feeling completely frazzled, worried and stressed….without a single reason for it. I tried to think of why I was feeling so incredibly worried, and my mind kept trying to come up with a reason for being worried.
That scared me. Searching for a reason to be worried? That’s just out of hand.
When I described to Ben how I was feeling, he immediately said, “We should pray about it.”
Oh. Good idea. Funny how I didn’t think about doing that….
So he prayed, and immediately, it was as if a weight was lifted off me. I felt completely different.
I wish I could say it lasted forever. But that’s not how it went.
Sometimes, the worries and fears build up until they almost overwhelm me, and I pray like crazy to fight them back down.
And then things go back to normal, and I slack off, thinking it’s all fine, and then it all comes back. Part of me wants to get discouraged about it, but part of me knows (from experience) that I need to keep at it, it takes time, but it will get better.
I want to get stronger mentally. I want to be able to take every thought captive. But that doesn’t happen overnight. So I keep plugging away.
I went for a walk last week, and as usual, spent all my time looking up to the tips of those evergreens. It doesn’t matter how heavy my spirit feels, when I look way, way up to those tree tops, I feel like my soul flies high and free.
As I walked along, with my soul flying, some words came back to me from a new Beth Moore book I started – Breaking Free.
God always cares more for our freedom than even we do. He initiated the saving relationship between the people and the Liberator. “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7) God is intimately acquainted with the sorrows and suffering that result from slavery. He also has a remedy. He is the meeter of our needs….Christ sets us free by the power of His Spirit; then He maintains our freedom as we learn to live from day-to-day in the power of His free Spirit.”
I walked and thought over and over, “God cares more for my freedom that I do. God cares more…” Praise the Lord, He pursues me. That boggles my mind.
I so desperately want to be free, and to be strong in the joy of Jesus, and I fight, and strive, and beg God for it. But sometimes I forget that He wants it more for me that I do.
I read somewhere that this struggle is what’s meant by “working out your salvation”. We need to learn to live from day-to-day. Our human nature tells us it’s better to worry, fear, and be anxious. That sounds plain ridiculous, and yet it’s the age-old lie of Satan’s that we fall for every time we sin. As if anything could possibly be better than God’s glorious, right way!
Ann Voskamp writes,
Sometimes, too often, I don’t want to muster the energy. Stress and anxiety seem easier. Easier to let mind run wild with the worry than to exercise discipline. (p. 147, One Thousand Gifts)
Really, you could put any sin in there. It’s always easier to give in to the areas of weakness. Often, we even see the weakness as freedom. Who wants to burden of changing something we’ve grown comfortable with?
But then the Holy Spirit starts to open our eyes to where the true bondage is, and Ben always tells me this is the first step. I need to feel truly miserable and desperate before I will want to change.
I guess this, then, is the part where I’m working my way past miserable and desperate. I’m slowly rising.
Because God longs for my freedom more than I do.
Because if worry is a sin, and Jesus says “Fear not!” more times than there are days in a year, then surely, these habits, this sin, this bondage, can be overcome.