Captive to Captivated
I have stopped and started this post just as many, if not more times, than I did with my very first post. Every time I sit down to write this, the enemy is quick to shout words of doubt and discouragement over my shoulder... but Satan doesn't ever get new material to pack his punches. Have you thought about that? What he is whispering to me today is the same old lie that he's been using since he tempted Eve with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His favorite line being, "Did God really say...." "Did God really call you to this? Did God really give you anything worth saying? Is this really going to make a difference?" That's what he used in the Garden, that's what he has used my whole life, and he's still trying to work with it today. For so long, the doubts got the best of me. I spent so much time trying to cover up my past and hide it from everyone, including God. I thought that if I didn't talk about it, acknowledge it, or address it, then it didn't exist. It couldn't matter if I just ignored it. But that's not how life works. That is not how sin works. That is not how shame works. That is not how the calling and beckoning that the Lord does to draw us to Himself works, either. At some point, we have to come face to face with our past, our story, and the call that God extends to all of us. We can allow the doubts, deceit, and discouragement from the enemy continue to manipulate us and keep us stuck in our sin and shame, or we can heed the call of the Lord to come to Him and allow Him to forgive the sin, heal the shame, and set us loose from the chains we find ourselves in. So just like last time, and probably every time my fingers touch the keyboard, I'm going to choose to shut out the shouts of doubt with the calling of confidence that only Jesus can give. After all, this is really His story.
I became a Christian at the age of 17 years old. That is a hard age to not know who you are, why you are here, or what you are going make of your life, and I certainly did not have an answer to any of those questions when Jesus stepped into my world and began to unravel all of that for me. I grew up in a home with parents that loved me as much as two lost, broken people know how to love. Money was always an issue. We always had food to eat and a roof over our head but it was always, always a stretch to make ends meet. Emotionally, both my parents had baggage from their pasts that was not dealt with, and that led to more emotional baggage being accumulated in our home. There was no spiritual aspect to my life. I did not have a Bible, know how to pray, or step foot into a church until my senior year of high school, and even that was not something I wanted to do. I just assumed that I would hate it. That I wouldn't fit in, wear the right thing, say the right thing, etc. I did not want to let anyone see the chaos that was my normal. But because God is gracious, patient, and longs to be merciful towards us, by the end of that very first church service, I was aware of something that I did not have but had so desperately longed for all of my life. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. All the talk of Jesus paying for all the baggage and bondage I had in my life was something I had never heard before, much less thought would be offered to me. I went out of my way to make arrangements to go back to church the following Sunday, and the Lord saved my soul that day. My very second time to EVER go to church, and He broke down all my walls and met me in the brokenness that I never wanted anyone to see. I trembled all the way down the aisle to the altar and gave my heart to the only One who had ever seen all my mess and was not overwhelmed or outraged by it. It didn't matter what I did or did not say, wear, etc. I had heard the gospel for the very first time, and that day became the best day of my life. August 22, 2010. And although I walked out of that service with my sins forgiven and my destiny determined, I also walked back into the same emotionally unstable, spiritually void situation that had always been my life. I tried my best to convey to my parents the magnitude of the transformation that had taken place in my heart, but they just didn't understand. I begged them to attend my baptism that took place just a few weeks later, but they refused. They had settled for stuck and that is just what they were. Stuck. Freedom seems frivolous when captivity is comfortable.
The next several months leading up to me leaving for college were stressful to say the least. Trying to grow in my relationship with the Lord in an environment that was unsuitable for growth of any kind was nearly impossible. There were arguments. There was miscommunication. There was confusion on all sides. I felt responsible for my parents' salvation and wanted nothing more than for them to experience the love of Jesus like I had, but they had no interest in Him. It was a hard season, but it was preparing me for other hard seasons to come. That's what we are able to see in hindsight, that the hard seasons are just paver on the path to other types of hard seasons, and if you have tuned me out up until now- please hear me say this: It. All. Has. Purpose. Every single bit. Every season. Every day. Every hard thing. My whole first 17 years of life in a constant state of dysfunction. There is not a thing that I have gone through that God has not, is not, or will not use for my good and His glory at some point in my life. If you had told me 11 years ago that I would be airing out the dirty laundry of my life on public display for all to hear, I would have crawled in a hole and DIED. All that time I had been hiding my story and my past, God wanted to shine light on it! He wanted me to tell it! He wanted to use it! He set me free from captivity so that I could be captivated by Him! The Bible tells us that once we come to know truth, we are FREE! That is what my 17 year old heart needed the most- to know the Truth- about myself, my condition, and my Creator, and I needed Him to set me free. I did not know at the time that that was my biggest need, but it was. And friend, if He can do it for me, He can do it for you. No sin is too big and no past is too much for Him. He will not run from your struggle or shy away from your shame. He does the very opposite. He runs TO us, in our sin, and breaks us out of bondage.
I would love to tell you that my life has been glorious sunshine and rainbows from that point forward, but that is not even close to true. The Lord has been so, so very patient with me and allowed me walk through some really hard things in order to see just how desperately I must depend on Him, because we were not meant to navigate this life on our own. This is still just a peak into the story God has written in my life, and I hope that if you have stuck with me and read this far, that you have heard that it is absolutely Jesus and nothing but Him that saves, redeems, restores, and sets free sinners like me. There is no greater joy in life than to walk out of captivity, completely captivated by the Savior.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Until next time,