For years I bought into a lie about freedom. That creatives were these weird gypsy spirits that twirled and flitted from idea to idea, life to life, with nary a boundary or person of accountability to hold them. Not only did I buy into this lie; I feasted on it.
It was my bread in the desert when ideas dried up. My scapegoat when the muse became a mirage. It was the heady wine of a well-crafted post shared once a year. The sweet sugar rush of batch writing, knowing all the while the crash was inevitable.
I didn’t know then what I know now: that’s all a bunch of crap. And in that big bunch of crap was an underlying issue that was bigger than my creative struggles. It was the root of a whole bunch of slavery.
The Slave of the One You Obey
Peter knew a thing or two about slavery, both to oneself and to Jesus. He writes in his second book:
for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.2 Peter 2:19b
I’ve written off and on over the last two years about some of my struggles; health and otherwise. The deep rooting out of bitterness, unrealistic expectations, and my ideas for my life have experienced a significant overhaul at the hand of the Holy Spirit. There are things still too tender and sacred to share. But the fruit of these times is impossible to ignore.
The fruit is freedom. I am free. I don’t feel free. I know that I am free and that freedom is in Jesus alone. He is who I cling to and fight for every day. I have developed an obstinate refusal to go back to habits and dispositions that bound me for so many years.
The binding of these emotions and way-down-deep-in-the-heart sins impacted so many things. Relationships. Business. Health. Creativity. Bitterly I clung to my distorted views of freedom. On the outside, I knew how to agree with the truth and say the right things. Internally, I rejected accountability if it crossed some idea I had about anything. I shrank from personal responsibility yet demanded unrealistic responsibility from others around me.
I was the captain of the hot mess express but my train was actually a caboose.
Be Obedient from the Heart
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.John 14:21
We don’t have sufficent time to dig into all my junk. Oprah doesn’t even have that much time. If you want a snapshot of a few areas where Jesus has dealt with me in the past, you can check out the following posts:
In pressing into Jesus and His Word, I started to read and internalize the impact of the command of obedience. Obedience is a word that gets tossed around in the church from time to time, yet the practice of it is sorely lacking. (I speak as one who has lacked, believe me.) The more I dug into the Gospels, the more I saw the connection between the battle for and of my heart, the obedience Jesus requires, and the love that should connect all three together.
The internal war of my heart forced me to deal with my sin. The secret sins that so quickly and subtly persuade and persist were dealt with first. Cringeworthy, devastating sin is one thing. But letting it fester in an impenitent disposition is a whole other. There’s nothing so humbling as having to dig up the fallow ground of your heart you’ve hardened with your own stupidity.
But there’s nothing so hopeful either.
The Way of Humility and War
One of the things I love most about the Word is the way it weaves together ideas, principles and commandments that seemingly have nothing to do with each other.
In the times that I’m referencing above, one verse that became a real reality for me was Psalm 18:
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.Psalm 18:34-35
Jesus made the whole of these verses my experience. He trained and continues to train my hand for war. I am commanded to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil as Jesus did. He teaches me to effectively wield the shield of faith against the fiery darts of the enemy. To stand fast and firm and faint not. To gird myself with the belt of Truth. To welcome the plunging of the Word of God as a two-edged sword into my joints and marrow, my soul and spirit, and to expose the thoughts and intents of my heart.
But Jesus also teaches me to use the Sword of the Spirit, His Word, to combat the lies of my own soul and the lies of the devil. In this training, I see His salvation at work in me. I know the support of His right hand. His gentleness (in the Hebrew: humility) makes me great only insofar as the greatness in me is Jesus Himself.
Endurance and Reality Required
It is right, and true, and necessary that the living Truth of Scripture become my reality. That it becomes your reality.
Friends, I want to encourage you to enlist in this war and not run from it. Don’t exchange the beauty, requirement, and battle of the Gospel of Jesus for a weak imitation. The hard things of life will always be the hard things in life. But in Jesus, those things can become tools of salvation, sanctification, and purification by His hand.
However, we have to submit to Him for it to happen. We have to declare war on false freedom. The ultimate war will be won by Jesus, but He will ask us what we did when the time for battle came in our own lives.
May we be able to say, “Lord, I warred for and with You. I pressed in and endured hardness as a good soldier. You trained my hand for war and though there were times I was tempted to retreat, I dug in and stood fast. So that in the end, the victory was won and belonged to You.”