“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”
I was hesitant to post the following. For one, it is real. Really real. Scary vulnerable territory for me. But more than that, it seems so much ‘about me.’ At least on the surface. I felt it was something I should write because it was true, and I felt the need to record it – to acknowledge that it was happening and real. If for no one else but me. To keep in my journal.
But as I sat down to write, it became clear that it was coming just like so many other posts, posts I believe that the Lord inspires me to write out and wrestle with and proclaim in my own little way. So this was from Him, too. And about Him. The post below is about what only the Lord can author in my life. And so I hope it’s with that in mind that you will read the following. This is my way of proclaiming what the Lord has been doing in me, and what He will continue to do, because He is faithful. My only response is humble gratitude, and a willingness to share what has been a crazy hard and freeing experience for me. He is the one that sets prisoners free, that brings sight to blind eyes, and I will sing of the Lord as long as I live.
My freedom has come in inconspicuous ways.
This has come after a season of some hard heart-work the Lord has called me to – seeking freedom from some things that have held me back for a long time now. Most of which I was unaware of until I started the process. Funny how denial can be so convincing, deception so effective. But I took the first step, admitted that the junk in my heart was real (see some of my previous posts like this), and so we started this crazy recovery journey last April.
I first noticed I was singing more loudly in the car, by myself. Haha. I guess that is indicative of how shy I can be. Hard time being me with just me. Even alone I have been hindered to express myself.
I also noticed I was looking more people in the eye, aware of them more than myself. I started laughing and speaking up in settings where I would normally be restrained by insecurity and awareness of others. I started asking questions where once I would sit in silence, afraid I was the only one that didn’t understand. Now I ask questions because I want to know more than I want others to see me a certain way. I have started seeing bolder actions and responses in almost every area of my life.
I am pretty sure from the outside nothing really looks different. On their own, each instance listed above doesn’t amount to much. But together, I have started to recognize the Lord’s handiwork and it is refreshing. There is glorious freedom sprouting in me, and I can’t wait for it to take full bloom.
I didn’t know until I tasted this freedom how enslaved I have been, and still am in so many ways. But I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good in new ways. And that has changed me. I know there is more now. I can’t go back, as much as my flesh desires to drag me back to the old places. But what the Lord brings to life can’t be hidden among the dead for long.
Because His life produces life.
Maybe that is the indicator of true life and freedom-it changes what it surrounds. Life produces life.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63
The roots go down deep in the decaying soil and break it up. Slowly nutrients are transferred and what once could only offer death now can foster life. He makes it new.
The trick is that this is happening beneath the surface. There is no apparent indicator for a long time that something has shifted, that the very nature of what has been touched has been changed. Winds of condemnation and doubt will still blow above the surface, taunting me to believe that nothing is happening, that nothing is different. But as truth is continually planted, it takes root in a place now capable of receiving it, a heart now alive to grow the fruit.
Faith gives the heart vision to see the promise before it breaks through the ground and Hope sustains the heart until the promise is fulfilled.
The first stem pops out – the lifting of my arms in worship, alone in my car.
The stem continues to press through the soil, no longer being able to be contained only underground – my public worship now has freedom of expression.
The first leaves unfold – I can now speak up where I was once imprisoned in silence and insecurity. I now take thoughts captive that used to control me, replacing them with new truth.
A bud appears – I have made a choice to say no to what used to compel and control me.
The bud opens, petals unfurling – the very words that I speak now are evidence of the new truth in my mind and heart, paving new paths for me to walk.
Eventually the bloom will be in full force and the pollen it produces will inspire and motivate others. The Lord will speak His words and they will not come back void, but will achieve the purpose it was set out to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11).
The whole process is organic. I didn’t bring myself to life, or cause the growth, nor can I produce the fruit. It was Him and will continue to be Him. The lie that defined my old life was that I could, and so I attempted to bring a dead girl to life in a cemetery.
Only God can speak life, breathe life into me. All I can do is inhale. And then keep breathing Him in. Exhaling the lies, the bondage, the death and decay. Breathing in His life and joy and peace and love.
Freedom came in inconspicuous ways. As a baby born in a manger, a toddler to a carpenter, a young man in a temple speaking with authority.
Truth always has authority, whether recognized or not.
Jesus Christ, God’s Word, became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He lived in obedience to God and accomplished what He was sent to do (John 4:34, Philippians 2:8), to set the prisoners free (Luke 4:14-21, Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:23-24). That freedom came in surrender to the cross, and the same freedom still comes in surrendering to the cross -giving up the attempt to bring a dead girl back to life and giving over my death for His life.
Lord, please give me eyes to see the ways You work in and around my life. Help me to see the ways You so humbly move, often choosing obscurity when You are worthy of all praise and attention and adoration. I pray that You would no longer be obscure in me, but apparent. That Your life would speak through me, Your freedom evident in me, for Your Name’s sake and glory. The dead cannot praise You. (Isaiah 38:18) Bring more light to my eyes and life to my heart that it can’t help but proclaim Your Name. In Your goodness, use my life for Your plans.
In the Name that is above all Names I boldly approach Your throne, accepted and loved and adored by You because of Your Son’s sacrifice. Amen.