Over the last two years, I have come to know an intimacy with God unlike anything that I have experienced before. I have known the Lord for basically eighteen years and He has spoken, sustained, healed and calmed me throughout my journey, but this last year – it’s like He looked down and said, “That’s enough!” to many of the internal things I dealt with.
I’m going to be real honest in this blog in the hopes that someone will see themselves in this story and that this testimony of the fact that ‘God’s hand is not so short that it cannot save,’ will bring hope, encouragement and trust in the One who is the bondage breaker. We have a fighting God and He fights for us. He really does.
Depression, loneliness, constantly feeling the foreboding sense of failure and being confined to a hidden internal turmoil of never measuring up were my constant companions. There were so many things to blame all of these struggles on. A baby girl gone too soon, financial situations, disappointments, devastations – you know the stuff. We all have it. Some stuff is big, some is small, but it can take its toll. These feelings, lies and all of that weren’t always at the surface, but they weren’t far below waiting to make an appearance. By most accounts, I think I was pretty functional and the brokenness was well hidden, but I knew it was there. John knew it was there. I would go around and around the same stuff kind of like a dog chasing it’s tail, but could never get to the bottom of anything. I would be free for a little while and then BOOM! Back down to the pit I would go. I know many people who know me would be surprised to know the depth of what I struggled with. I kind of felt like a dog on a long chain. I felt sort of free unless I wandered too far from where I was tethered and then BAM! I was jerked back again. I assumed that when life evened out so would I. A couple of years ago we came into a pretty easy and restful season, but to my disappointment, the internal stuff stayed. The internal brokenness wasn’t the situations like I had so hoped. God used the season of rest to expose my true brokenness. It was IN me. This is about the time where He asked me to step out of some busyness in my life. He needed my attention and He had it. I think if I had not slowed down, I would maybe still going around and around. You see sometimes we have to slow down so we can see where we’re really at. Thankfully, that is not where my story ends!
So many people I have shared with, have seen themselves in my story. You see, no one would have guessed that I would lay in bed at night sometimes wondering what in the world it was that chained me. I didn’t really look like a mess. Some of us do and some of us don’t. I remember telling God that I felt like a million knots. Not like knots in a rope – those are easy to get out. More like knots in a whole bunch of necklaces that have been packed poorly in a bag on vacation. I told Him I didn’t know the order or where to start, but something needed to happen. I knew I wasn’t living in the freedom that He bought. I don’t know what it is for you, it could be a sin you can’t conquer, a person you can’t forgive, a past that has left you broken or a whole list of things. Maybe like me, you don’t even know what your problem is, but you just know you’re broken inside. That’s how it was for me. I was just broken and stuck.
Two years ago now this coming February, I went to a retreat. I’ve been to a thousand before and wasn’t particularly expecting or looking for anything in particular. I remember the question was asked, “What would it look like if you were totally free?” With tears streaming in my heart because I no longer cried easily, I wrote down a couple of things and at the end of the page I eloquently wrote, “God, please free me.” It was kind of like the tiniest ‘help’ I could squeak out. I had grown so accustomed to my chains that I just figured that they were part of me. I shut my journal and didn’t look at that page again for almost a year. I don’t think I really thought He would hear that prayer. In fact, I didn’t even really look at it as a prayer. I just kind of wrote it, but it was a desperate cry from a deep place and God heard. He always does…
Two months later, I was at another service and I went forward for prayer. I didn’t know why, but again there was that tugging to be free. A man prayed for me and said some things about how the Lord saw me. Immediately my mind went to how I was going to fulfill those things. The man stopped me and said, “God just showed me that you are trying to figure out how to make this work and to fulfill this, but He wants you to know that it’s something HE’S going to do. You just respond. It’s not something you have to do.” God knew my thoughts. I felt a little crack in my brokenness. A little life glimmered where there had been deadness. A little bit of healing came to some of the raw places as I saw a glimmer of God’s heart for me. He loved Me and He knew my thoughts. I was HIS! You see, the thing this man prayed over me was a secret longing of mine.
Two months later again, I was having my time with the Lord and He gave me Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. To be honest with you, I had heard this verse a million times and kind of brushed it off, but then I felt the Lord ask me, “Do you ever wonder what the words to My song are? They are songs of deliverance and freedom over you.” Now, I am a first-born, fact checking, black and white kind of person and I have to admit, I was a little skeptical that I actually heard this, but do you know what I found? It’s true! Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Do you realize that God surrounds us with songs of deliverance? Not only that, but it says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus is interceding for us. Intercession is intervening on behalf of another. That is what is happening right now. Any chains or bondages you have don’t have a chance against an interceding, intervening, fighting God. This is why the enemy lies about Him. When we can believe this about Him, we are on the road to freedom. This is why the enemy tries so desperately to alter our view of Him. For me to start to find freedom, God started with my view of Him and His heart for me. When you really know God is on your side and His heart for you, many lies dissipate. They just do. When you know that God is truly for you and your freedom it makes it easy to let Him do what He needs to do. So much of what we struggle with is because of lies we believe about who we are and who God is. We don’t fight to get to God, He is fighting alongside us for our freedom. He wants it more than we do. He must – He went to great lengths so that we could live free.
Again, two months later, I stood for prayer for some physical things. When I stood, the Lord told me He was going to heal internal things. He began to name some very specific things. A week later, someone I don’t even know sent me a picture in the mail that the Lord had given them to draw for me. She is an artist and the picture had a lot of words about how the Lord sees me. Over the months I had accidentally picked up books in an order that went right along with what God was doing in my heart. I had never heard of them, but just picked them up, but they were well-timed and impacted me. Finally, I grabbed John Eldredge’s book, Free to Live: The Utter Relief of Holiness. God used it to bring some pretty big healing. John and I prayed for several hours one night and the Lord untied the final knots in some pretty significant places and I came to know freedom that I had never walked in.
I didn’t realize the timeline of the events until I looked at my journal and could see the succession from the first “Help” in my journal that year to the final untying of some of the bigger knots. Of course, God will be untying knots until I die. He will in all of us, but I also know you don’t have to walk bound and the freedom He bought is for now. My story isn’t a blueprint for how to get free. Different knots have different reasons and different chains and strands take different types of care. Everyone’s story is different and will have different roads to freedom, but I do know that our road to freedom is tied up in how we see Him. After the past two years, I can’t help but trust Him. He’s bigger than I imagined, more loving than I had hoped, kinder than I expected and more capable of untying any knots than I ever knew. When I pray for people, I have no doubt in my mind that He is the master at untying no matter how big the knots, how long the strands or how many or knotted together. Some have bigger knots than others, but none are too many, too strong or too tangled for Him. We don’t even have to know what to do. He has a different way to each person’s heart, but He knows exactly what we each need and what it will take for us to be free. There is not a part of our heart that is a mystery to Him. We can trust Him. Afterall, He fights for us. He is hope, He is the Healer, He is the Deliverer and He is strong.
Isaiah 59:1 Surely the arm of the Lord is not to short to save, nor His ear to dull to hear. (NIV)
“Grace” by Martin Smith – to hear it click here
I was lost when you found me here
You pulled me close and held me near
And I’m a fool but still You love
I’ll be your fool for the King of Love
You gave me wings so I could fly
And gave me a song to color the sky
And all I have is all from you
And all I want is all of you
It’s Grace, grace
I’m nothing without You
Grace, Your grace
Shines on me
And there’ve been days when I’ve walked away
Too much to carry nothing left to say
Forgive me Lord when I’m weak and lost
You traded heaven for a wooden cross
And all these years You’ve carried me
You’ve been my eyes when I couldn’t see
And beauty grows in the driving rain
Your oil of gladness in the times of pain
Your Grace, grace
I’m nothing without You
Grace, Your grace
Shines on me
Grace, oh grace
I’m everything with You
Grace, Your grace
Shines on me