A man was walking the grounds of a circus, observing the animals. As he approached the elephants he was confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by a single rope tied to their leg. Obviously the elephants could break the rope and walk away, but oddly, they did not.
He motioned to a trainer nearby and asked him why such a magnificent and strong creature made no attempt to break away? How could it be that such a small rope could restrain such a large and strong creature?
“When they are young we use a similar size rope to tie them and because they are small they cannot break away. As they grow, they are conditioned to think that the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The trainer answered.
I wonder, if the man had cut the rope, would the elephant walk away to freedom? If he had cut the rope at the stake, but left it on the elephant’s ankles, would the elephant still believe that he was bound to the stake? Or, what if he cut the rope from his ankles? Would the elephant then know he was free? Or would he stay, because it is what he knows? Would he stay because “this is the way it has always been”?
How many of us are like that elephant?
How many are held captive to the ropes of the past?
How many have learned to adapt to the ropes; perhaps even embraced the ropes?
Sure does sound silly, doesn’t it? Imagine the tragic comedy it is when we choose to hold on to the things that keep us so bound up, rather than walk in complete freedom.
There is a phenomenon called Stockholm syndrome. It is a strong emotional tie that is formed between two people where one abuses, threatens, harasses, intimidates, or beats the other. It is suggested that the bonding is the victims coping mechanism, in response to the trauma of being a victim.
As strange as it seems that a majestic creature like the elephant stays chained to a small rope, it is even stranger that a victim should form a bond with a person (or thing/addiction/mind-set) who has taken their freedom away and abused them. Yet, this is what happens, in the spiritual.
We begin to identify with the chains of bondage because we do not know our identity.
We identify to labels. Don’t believe me, ask someone who they are and they will probably tell you their job title; you know, the one word title that describes what we do (or where we have been).
There is ONE who can cut those ropes of bondage from you and give you freedom.
John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son (Jesus) makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
I put emphases on the “if” because it is important that you understand something. It IS Gods will that you be free. He has made all provision for your freedom, through His Son, Jesus. His gift of salvation is free. He will never force it on you. He will also never deny you should you choose to accept the free gift of salvation, freedom. When you accept His Son, you have accepted all that comes with being an heir.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”
What does this mean?
I am going to break this down for you in very plain language.
If you have Christ, you are no longer a victim! You are more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthen you. You are to be conformed into His image, you are dead to your past and you are alive in Christ who gives you the hope and the promise of eternal life. You have received forgiveness and you are to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged you, abused you, hurt you and to yourself. Unforgiveness will keep you tied to your past and to your old mindsets. You are no longer a whore hopping from bed to bed, relationship to relationship, you are sanctified, you are pure and you are to offer yourself up as a living sacrifice to the One who has set you free. You are no longer an addict, an alcoholic, an angry person, an inferior person, a victim, an abuser, a fearful person, a selfish person or a self-preserved person. You are not a fortress within yourself.
Your freedom has been purchased at a very high cost. You are to no longer play in the pig pen with the pigs, you are washed clean with the blood of Jesus. Your future is secure and you are to break ties with the past. You cannot hold onto the past while looking to the future.
That tie that held you for so long is no longer there. That phantom feeling you get of the rope on your ankles is a lie and you must recognize that.
I am not suggesting that this is always easy, because sure enough there will be times when it seems that all hell will break loose on you. But, free people always have a choice. You can choose to believe the lie and risk becoming bound again, or you can choose to believe Gods promise.
Jesus said if you abide in His Word, you are His disciples and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin and a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Many of us have had painful past. Many of us have been victims of people and/or circumstance that was beyond our control. But that is not what defines us. The past is not where we find our identity. Our identity is found in Jesus.
What is it that holds you back? What do you need to let go of? Who do you need to forgive?
Confession and repentance is the first step to freedom. Repentance means to no longer return to the rope (sin) that has held you. You turn away from it. You cling to Jesus. You allow Him to bring healing. You do not self-medicate with un-holy relationships or addictions. To many this may seem impossible, to step out of the comfort zone and break old habits, but Jesus said that what is impossible for man is possible with God.
As a free person, you have a choice. You can choose to believe Him or not to believe Him.
God is faithful, He cares for you and He loves you. There is nothing that can separate you from His love. He wants you to acknowledge and walk in the freedom that He has given you. He wants this more than you.
Are you weary? Are you tired of the merry-go-round of emotions? God says come up here. Learn to see through His eyes.
Kick that elephant out of your living room and divorce your past. You have no more relationship with your past. You are a new creation. A holy nation, a royal priesthood, an heir with Christ, a child of the Most High God. Walk in it!
Be Free & Stay Free
John 10:10 warns us that the thief comes to steal, kill and to destroy. Jesus says He has come so we may have life and have it more abundantly. We must keep watch, because the enemy of our soul wants to do more than wound us, he wants to annihilate us. He is after the seed!
You see, it is a very real and personal battle. The devil roams around like a roaring lion to seek who he can devour. How does a lion hunt prey? He will go after the stragglers, the isolated ones, the weak ones, and the ones who are not aware that he is lurking just behind the bushes. The devil is not all knowing, he cannot read your mind, but he is a good student. He has watched you from day one. He knows what buttons to push. He knows what/who is closest to you and he will use it. He knows the areas you are weak in and he knows your strengths and he will use it against you.
The devil is a supplanter. He will attempt to snatch up every seed the Lord has planted.
A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.
Hear me… WE MUST GUARD THE SEED!
We can not do this on our own. Know this. If you try to do this on your own, you will fail. You need the power of His Spirit. You are not wrestling flesh and blood. The Amplified describes it as this:
For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
How do we guard the seed? By taking every thought captive, learn to discern the voice of your thoughts. Do not assume every thought is your own. Do not assume every thought is truth. Do not even trust your own eye sight, learn to walk by faith, because the devil is also the master of parlor tricks.
[ Meditate on These Things ] Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Stay close to Him and remain in fellowship with His people. Surround yourself with those who will speak truth into your life and situation. Know His Word, know His voice, and know His promise for you.
Be Free & Stay Free
Hand a little girl a mirror after telling her how beautiful she is and she will see a princess peering at her through her own reflection. Years later, hand her a mirror and she may see something entirely different. What she sees in the present moment is a reflection of her past.
Our mental ability to recreate images from the past enables us to reinterpret them. If the image is distorted, our “view” will be distorted. Our reality is based on our own perception and it will be as looking into a carnival mirror if our perception is not based on Gods truth.
Most of us remember the childhood story of The Jungle Book, about a young boy, Mowgli, who was raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle. Through a series of events, Mowgli stumbles into a human village and is adopted by a human family. But, he has a hard time adapting to the “human life.” Being raised by wolves, he did not see himself as a human boy, he saw himself as a wolf. He was a human that acted like a wolf. Living with the wolves did not change who he was, it changed who he thought he was.
Do you know who you are, or are you like Mowgli? Has the past, and/or your present circumstance, distorted your view of who you really are? Call a child a wolf long enough and he will begin to believe it and act like a wolf.
Dust your mirror off and shower yourself in His Word. If you want to know who you really are, you must know He is and who you are in Him.
You are so much more than what the human eye and mind can understand. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made; created with a purpose.
Praise Him, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are His works. Psalm 139:14
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. Isaiah 43:1
Have you fallen into agreement with the lies that have been spoken over you? Perhaps you have even spoken those lies yourself? The power of life and death is in our words. Begin to speak His truth.
Separate yourself from who/what tears you down. It is OK to set boundaries. It is OK to love someone from a distance. Surround yourself with people who care about you and saturate yourself in His word. Release those that have hurt you, walk in forgiveness. I know this is not always easy, but it is for your good. Forgiveness does not right a wrong, but it will free you from the bondage that holds you .
You were created for so much more. Get out of the mud and let Him break the chains that keep you bound. Only through Him will you find healing. Only in Him will you find yourself. There is no substitution.
So, when those thoughts come in, when the lies try to invade, hold it up to the truth of His Word. Begin to say, “Thus say the Lord….”
Then when you look in the mirror, you will not see the distorted image as in a carnival, you will see Him. You will see His reflection in you and you will marvel how beautiful is His creation and His creation is you.
You are His beloved.
Be Free & Stay Free
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4.
I think of her story often, especially when I am faced with change. Each time I read her story God shows me something new. His word is like that. His word is alive and will meet you at your point of need.
This past year has been a trying year for me; a real test of faith. At times it was as though I were on an emotional roller coaster. I would find myself at the peak of a high and think I have arrived, only to be plummeted down the next slope. Up and down. Seriously, I do not know how people survive life without knowing Jesus.
Do you ever feel that way? Just as you arrive to the peak of the mountain you are staring at the ground floor again? I don’t know about you, but I am going to be real honest here, there were moments where I really questioned if I would have the strength to start all over again. And to be even more real, if it weren’t for the grace of God and His love for me, I would have probably just sat down and stared into oblivion and wish it all to be over. Doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it? I am just being real.
This is when I was reminded of the Shunammite woman. I can imagine her voice, her heart, her grief, when she said to Elisha, “Did I desire a son? Did I not say ‘do not deceive me?”
I have said things very similar to God. It is OK for me to share this with you, because He knows anyway. My moaning’s to God sounded something like this, “Why would you give this to me, just to take it away? I am tired of starting over! It is not fair! When will it be my turn? How much more do I have to take?!”
The thing about pity parties is no one shows up. It is usually a party of one. Even when you felt you did everything right, it wasn’t your fault, you may still find yourself at the bottom of the roller coaster, scratching your head and wondering what just happened. Perhaps it is a relationship gone bad, a loss of a job, loss of home, health issues, or any other curve ball that has been thrown at you.
Let us remember, trials will come. Things do happen, to all of us. Not everyone we want in our lives will want to stay there. There will be times you will be misunderstood, harshly judged, and wrongly accused. It happens to all of us. But this does not have to be the end of us. The dream He gave you, He hasn’t taken it back. The gifts He gave you, He hasn’t taken that back either. Just because it has not come to pass the way you thought it would does not mean it will not come to pass.
James 1 says, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave in the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man and unstable in all his ways.
God does, and will, open doors. We still have to do our part and walk through them. He will also close doors and we will have to choose to trust Him and let that door close.
My friend, I write this to encourage you. Though the plans you laid, have fallen, trust the Lord. His ways are perfect. Trust Him when He says your steps are ordered by Him. Listen for His voice. You will not always see a big flashing sign pointing you in the direction you should go. You may not even get the memo warning you change is coming and it may happen abruptly. But what you can count on and trust, is His Spirit to lead you.
So when your foundation has been shaken, when all you thought you had gained has been stripped away from you, in that moment of decision, choose to believe. Shut the pity party down. Ask God to search your heart and let this time have its perfect work, so what is produced from this will bring forth a harvest. Be like the Shunammite woman, she did not assemble a funeral, she went right to the source. Take it to Jesus, my friend.
If you walk in forgiveness, maintain a teachable spirit, and choose love; you will see this is not a season of loss, but of growth.
Be Free & Stay Free
“I’m tired.” She said, tears welling up in her eyes, as she took another sip of her coffee.
We sat at the table in silence; she staring into her coffee and me looking at her. I didn’t know what to say to her. I prayed for God to give me words of comfort for her, but nothing came. Maybe she just needs me to listen.
After a long pause, she took another sip of her coffee, put her cup down and looked me in the eye. I could see the traces of sleepless nights on her face. The circles under her eyes made her look older than she was and the puffiness told me she had been crying.
“Why can’t I get it right? Why do people always leave me? Am I that unlovable?” She looked away, gazed out the window and I could see a new tear forming at the corner of her eye. “I give it my all, I try to be the perfect person. No matter what I do it is never enough.”
I have known her for a long time. She came from a broken home; abandoned by her father. She married at a young age to an abusive husband, who eventually left her and her children. After two failed marriages, a couple failed relationships, a most recent heartbreak, and years of struggle, my friend sat in front of me and confessed she can no longer go on. “Something has got to give!” She said in a barely audible whisper.
My friend didn’t see herself as others saw her. She always saw herself as someone who is… less than. But, what I saw was a strong woman. A beautiful, compassionate, woman. She always had a smile on her face, she loved extravagantly, and anyone who came into contact with her became an instant friend. She was beautiful on the inside and out. Everyone noticed her. This always surprised me when she felt as though she were invisible.
I wanted to tell her it is not that she is unworthy, she just chooses unworthy people to give her heart to. I know she does this because she does not see her own worth and what a treasure she really is.
I take her by the hand and I look into her eyes- her beautiful sad eyes. I can feel my own heart breaking for her.
“Don’t you ever for a minute think you are unworthy.” I firmly tell her. “You are so precious to Him, you are a treasure in His hands. Yes, others have left you and hurt you. But, my dear friend, He will never leave you. He is not angry with you. He has a plan and a purpose for you. Your vision has been clouded, you have not been able to hear Him because of the voices in your own head, but this does not mean He is not near. He has seen everything that has been done to you and He has seen everything you have done. He forgives you, He loves you, and He wants you to give your burdens to Him. He wants you to trust Him with your cares, your anxieties, and your dreams.”
I want to tell her to take her eyes off people and focus on Him, because I know her wounds go so much deeper. Only He can touch the depth of her wounded soul and bring the healing she cries out for. But I also know it will require her to completely trust Him and be vulnerable again. Her trust has been shattered so many times from trusting the wrong people, I wonder if she will even be able to open up and receive His healing for her.
Our conversation shifts to the surface, because this is where she feels comfortable. We talk about our jobs, the weather, the children, anything and everything to not have to talk anymore about the discomfort and pain she is feeling. Both of us are only half in the conversation, going through the motions of not addressing the obvious need she has.
Thirty minutes later I am watching her through my rear mirror as she drives off. I sit in my car, silent, thinking about the conversation with my friend. And I pray for her. I pray for God to reveal Himself to her and to show her who she is in Him. I pray the motions of joy she portrays to the outside world become real joy. I pray for her deliverance and that she would turn away from anyone who is not Gods best for her. May she be so focused in the revelation of His love for her that she will never settle for anyone or anything that is less. Oh, that she would come to the understanding her past is not her future. She is accepted by the true lover of her soul.
Yes, my friend, you are beautiful. You are beautiful because you belong to Him. We live in a fallen world filled with broken people. It was never His plan for us to be hurt, abused, overlooked, rejected… But it happens, sometimes by other people and sometimes through our own choices. The consequence can feel unbearable and suffocating, but it does not have to be the death of us.
Oh, my broken friend, lay yourself at His feet. He will lift you up and in His arms you are safe.
Be Free & Stay Free