Mama used to tell me
if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Well, I haven’t blogged for awhile because frankly, I haven’t had anything nice or uplifting or inspiring to write. I’ve been up close and personal with darkness. Beth Moore would tell me to Get Out of That Pit. (I so love Beth’s way of bringing real life stuff to Christian platitudes!)
A little over a week ago, my sweet husband woke up with some kind of stomach bug. My daughter gave him a bell to ring, and I brought him Unisom (works well for nausea), gatorade and ice chips but other than that stayed far, far away and attacked the house with multiple cans of disinfectant and bleach. Most normal people would just take it in stride. Me? I’m not normal. I went into total freak out, panic attack mode. At the end of the day, my legs were so fatigued from all the shaking that they ached enough to require a dose of Tylenol. Eating when I’m very stressed is always difficult, but I forced myself to eat because I didn’t want to lose weight….and ended up losing five pounds anyway.
Yippe, right? Not when you weighed 90 pounds to start with!
Throughout this ordeal I was completely aware that the only sickness inside me was the one of my own making. I felt a distinct separation from Christ. Darkness oppressed my thoughts, and I felt alone and unlovely. The depths of my despair were so deep that I didn’t even want to be among the living anymore. I fought against these thoughts with scripture, but I have to say this time that the words I read felt hollow and unreal. And that was scary in and of itself! That is when I realized I was under serious attack. Satan was gunning for me, for control of my mind.
The anxiety continued a full week. During this time I am ashamed to say that I hurt my husband in a hundred different ways. I refused to hug him or sit near him. The consequences of my self-imposed isolation were ugly. He knows firsthand all about my fears and tried to be patient with me, but I know it got too much for him. In my fear, I sinned against him — which means I sinned against the Lord. I knew I was wallowing in it but continued to do so — like Paul, I didn’t do what I knew I needed to do, and I did what I knew I should not do.
In 2 Peter I read Paul’s warnings about false teachers and felt a prick at my heart — the first one I’d felt in a week.
They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.
Last week, fear held my puppet strings. Like the prodigal son, I allowed this darkness to overtake and imprison me, yet it was as if I was not the one doing the leaving. Fear was my master last week, and try as I did to bravely stand in the face of it, I still fell flat on my face.
The darkness over my soul is just now beginning to lift, but I come away from this experience bewildered and hurting. What are these chains holding me? Why has Christ not set me free from these chains? Why has he allowed me to be this oppressed? These questions fly in the face of everything I know about Christ, who announced himself as recorded in Luke 4 in a very bold way. Here Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Poor. Broken-hearted. Captive. Blind. Oppressed. Each of those words accurately describes me as I was last week. I believe Jesus. I believe he fulfilled the scripture. Why then, do I still find myself in chains?
Imagine with me a prisoner in a dark dungeon. She is shackled to the wall by her hands and her feet. The chains are cold and cruel in that dark, dank place. Then a light shines through the window. Gradually it becomes brighter and suddenly a man steps out of the light. He’s holding a sharp sword and with one swoop, he cuts the chains away from her and then unlocks the door.
The woman hides her face behind her dirty hair, despairing that anyone should see her in this filthy condition. The man who cut her chains then stands in the corner of the room, watching and waiting with an outstretched hand. But the woman does not stand and stretch. She has been in the dungeon for many years, almost her entire life. Her chains have become a constant in her life. As much as they chafe against her skin, they are familiar. There is a sense of safety in the known. As much as she longs to be free of the dank, cold prison, she cannot bring herself to take a step toward the door.
Her intense fear obscures her sight, and the only thing she can see are the chains lying on the stone floor. Slowly she reaches out for the broken chains. With tears running down her face, she winds the broken chains around her arms and legs, twisting and turning the links in such a way that they once again hold her fast to the wall. She ties the broken ends together around her waist and then strains to walk over to the unlocked door. Not surprisingly, the chains won’t reach across the room. She sinks to her knees, resigned to her fate.
This prisoner I describe could be me or anyone else who struggles with a stronghold. My chains are this phobia that runs my life. Yet if we truly believe Jesus, he has already set us free from this oppression. My next spiritual growth task will be to explore freedom and to apply it to my life. I don’t want to wrap those chains around my legs. I want to shake them off and stomp on the head of the one who is trying to worm his way between me and the Lord.
This song by Casting Crowns speaks to the struggle I’ve been facing. Appropriately, it’s titled Set Me Free. As you watch the video below, be sure to see the verses woven throughout.
It hasn’t always been this way
I remember brighter days
Before the dark ones came
Stole my mind
Wrapped my soul in chains
Now I live among the dead
Fighting voices in my head
Hoping someone hears me crying in the night
And carries me away
Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free
Morning breaks another day
Finds me crying in the rain
All alone with my demons I am
Who is this man that comes my way?
The dark ones shriek
They scream His name
Is this the One they say will set the captives free?
Jesus, rescue me
As the God man passes by
He looks straight through my eyes
And darkness cannot hide
Do you want to be free?
Lift your chains
I hold the key
All power on Heav’n and Earth belong to me
You are free
You are free
You are free
I thank you, Lord, for setting me free — and I ask you to give those of us who struggle with chains the courage and the strength to lift them once and for all.