There's nothing God won't do to rescue you from the grasp of the Enemy and bring you back to Him. Sometimes our chains of bondage are as obvious as the shackles we wear in prison. For most of us, however, our bondage is invisible. You can't see it behind our 40-hour workweek, our children's extra curricular activities, our ministry, and our smile.
Spiritual bondage enslaves a deep place in our hearts that was designed to be occupied by One eternal being - Jesus Christ. Rather than trusting in Him, we worry, doubt, fear, get busy, shut down, join another self-help group, open the fridge or sneak another cigarette or another glass of wine.
I've been there. I've walked out of that rut, and back into it again, and back out again.
It can feel like a vicious cycle, and while we may know that Jesus is the "way, truth and the life" (John 14:6), and that "his steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 136), what does that mean on a practical level? How does that help when we wake up at dawn to a dreadful weight in our chest? When we close our eyes before falling asleep at night as a voice inside whispers, is this all there is? Can I do this another day? And of course, we do, because what other choice is there?
Beloved, there is so much more in the choice to wake up to the Lord's never ending mercies that renew every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). There is hope. Even when you can't see it.
The last half of this year I have felt like I've been wearing a spiritual blindfold. I speak life, truth, hope and watch the opposite unfold in front of me. I find myself looking up at God and saying, "Hello?! You said to do ______, and I am, and now THIS is happening! What he heck, Lord?"
I'm a control-freak in my flesh. If I can't control a situation or my emotions, then at least let me see what you're doing, Lord. Instead, He has put a hood over my eyes and keeps telling me to listen. Ironically, the name 'Samantha' actually means, "listener of God."
When I do listen, I hear things like, "You are mine," (Isaiah 43:1), and "You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4), and "I am doing a new thing... I will make a way" (Isaiah 43:19), and "Trust me" (Jeremiah 39:18). I'm still blind, and I'm hoping God will remove the blind fold so I can see what on earth his words even mean.
After all, if He wants me to believe Him so badly, why wouldn't He just show me what this looks like? Why allow me to remain blind to what this love looks like?
I get glimpses into his love through things like painted rocks tucked away in rotting logs with the word "Love" on it, or the sunshine bursting through trees like a chorus in full swing, or the grin of a baby just by looking at my face, or the surprising-no-reason-at-all-hug from a friend that touches a place deep within my soul that needed comfort. "I see you," He seems to whisper.
My friend, he sees you too.
I recently began reading a book by Brent Curtis and John Elderedge called "the Sacred Romance." It depicts this beautiful illustration of God wooing his children back to him, and the Enemy at work to stop it at all costs. The authors write the following:
"Satan's desire is to keep us away from communion with God. He doesn't care how he does it. God's intention, on the other hand, is to use spiritual warfare to draw us into deeper communion with himself. Satan's device is to isolate us and wear us out obsessing about what he has done and what he will do next... God desires to use the enemy's attacks to remove the obstacles between ourselves and him, to reestablish our dependency on him as his sons and daughters in a much deeper way."
God is after us, and while He gives the enemy a certain latitude to wreak havoc - boy, do I have a list of questions to ask God about that when I get to heaven - He will use even the most horrible things to draw us closer to Him. It's when we're stripped of ourselves that we reach for something, or someone, beyond us to stand. When our own resolve wavers, we grasp at what has stood the test of time and is not dependent on us to continue standing.
God will use anything to scoop us out of the hand of the enemy, even pissing him off just enough for us to realize what's really going on - an all out, knock-down, drag-out war over our hearts. Once we realize there's a battle happening between the two sides for our heart - one of whom wants to destroy it while the other desires to restore it - we get to choose who we're going to give access to it.
We really do decide. We decide when we choose to believe one side or the other. Will I continue to believe that because so many men have shown themselves to be selfish, sexual predators that I can't trust a single man to give me a hug? Or will I choose to give godly men the benefit of the doubt and learn what positive touch is - truly? The enemy's desire for my heart, or the Lord's?
Will I become bitter and refuse to write another word because I haven't sold enough of my books to be financially self-sufficient - even though I've prayed about it for years? Or will I write anyway, and promote my books anyway, and let God bring them to the right people at the right time? The enemy's desire for my heart, or the Lord's? What I choose to believe will determine who I'm giving access to my heart, which will determine the outcome of my life.
I don't know how your story will end, but I do know that faithfulness to the Lord will reap a harvest far beyond anything you or I can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Maybe it wont come until heaven, but maybe it will come today. Stay faithful. Expect the blessing. I'm deciding to believe that one more day waiting is one more day for the Lord to perfect or add to the blessing He's already got waiting for me.