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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Come and see what the Lord has done . . .

A few weeks ago, I shared thirteen areas of my life that testify to the fact that my life is very much a work in progress. As I concluded that list, I made the statement that perhaps I should share thirteen areas where the Lord God has brought victory to my life. Strangely, I feel much more hesitant in sharing these areas of victory than in openly sharing my imperfections. Basically, I just don't want to let God down, and I certainly don't want to embarrass Him or His Name with my words. It's easy for me to blather on about myself . . . not so easy to try to speak to the mightiness that is my God. And yet I feel that a follow-up in order because I don't want my insecurities to preclude testimony to His glory over what HE has done in my life.

As I reflected on how and what to share, a theme of freedom continually rose to the surface. I was reminded of the Apostle Paul's words in Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . ." (NIV). I want to share these areas of victory in my life all within the context of this freedom I have found in Christ.

Personal freedom
1. Freedom from fear
2. Freedom from worry

In my Fine Lady post, I mentioned that I struggle with fear, but the struggles I encounter today are nothing compared to the bondage in which I used to live. I come from a long line of fearful people who can turn the most trivial of circumstances into shrines of worry. I used to believe, "Well, I am just worrier. That's how I was raised, it's in my genes, that's what I am destined to be." In the past ten years, God has shown me that this is most certainly not the case! I am free to live life free from fear and free from worry because I have chosen to serve a Savior who encourages His followers with "Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). It's true - my first instinct when a troubling situation comes up is to panic or fret, but day by day, God is leading me to a life more victorious over this tendency.

3. Freedom to be sure of my identity in Christ
The enemy, the accuser of the brethen, is quite adept at dancing in front of the eyes of my mind images and remembrances meant to keep me in bondage to my sin and to my past. Just as surely as the Lord God has a plan for my life, so does the enemy of my soul. Part of his scheme for my life is to go around with a distorted image of myself and of my God.
Based on the truths of Ephesians 1:3-8, I find freedom in refuting the enemy's attacks by choosing to believe I am loved, blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven.

Freedom in my marriage
4. Freedom to practice biblical submission
Surely this sounds to some like a contradiction in terms. Free to submit? Yet God has allowed me to discover through some powerful teaching and even more powerful life experiences that there is indeed freedom for a wife who is willing to allow her husband to be the leader of the home. I could write a lot more on this (and maybe I will another time) but this is surely at the top of the list of victories God has done in me in our marriage.

5. Freedom to open myself to emotional intimacy with my husband
It would not have been possible except through the work of God in my heart for me to be able to reveal to and trust my husband with the heartaches and heartbreaks I brought to our marriage.

6. Freedom in mental purity and fidelity
For years after we married, I struggled with mental fidelity. Anytime I was mad at my husband, I would retreat to a fantasy life in which I had married someone else, someone who surely better understands me, better meets my needs. I don't want to dishonor my husband or our marriage by revealing anything beyond that, but I do have to say that God used the book Every Woman's Battle to bring about much victory and much freedom in me and in our marriage.

7. Freedom not to rely on my husband to have my every need met
What wonderous freedom there is in discovering that my husband is just a human being (just like me!) and that he can't possibly fulfill my every need and desire. It really lets him off the hook when I choose not to live in bondage to our culture's message that his purpose on this planet is to make sure I am fulfilled in every way, every day.

Freedom in relationships
8. Freedom from emotional manipulation from others
Again, this is an area in which I don't want to dishonor anyone, so I will say briefly that there are those in my extended family who have fine-tuned the practice of emotional blackmail and manipulation to the point where I was in deep bondage to their every thought, feeling, and crisis. God has gently led me to understand I am not responsible for their choices or for their reactions to my choices. When confronted with this type of manipulation, I have the freedom to find peace in that.

9 and 10. Freedom in the area of finances and jealousy
For whatever reason, God has not (yet) seen fit to bless us with an overflow of material wealth. (I sorta have a sneaking suspicion that He thinks maybe we can't handle it. I sorta agree.)
It's very hard for me to forgo the poisons of jealousy when for much our married life we have found ourselves in groups of friends who do have much more than we have (materially). And this led us to be irresponsible with the resources God entrusted to us. Finally, finally, we are both allowing God to work in both of our hearts to convict us of our sins in these areas and restore us to the wholeness that comes with being " . . . content in any and every situation . . ." (Phil. 4:12 NIV).

11. Freedom to be a stay at home mama
Simply put, being a SAHM to our children is the realization and fruition of a life-long dream for me. Certainly we struggle financially. Certainly, I struggle in all areas of motherhood. But to be able to live out this dream, this calling on my life . . . there is a sweetness of liberty here that I am unable to put words to.

12. Freedom to forgive
Earlier this year, my father chose to end a thirty-two year marriage to my mother. I truly don't think I could ever, ever, tell the volumes I have learned about forgiveness in the past year. What I can share is that I now know I can forgive anyone of anything at any time. Am I called always to restoration of relationship? No. Am I called to put my trust in a person again? No. But I am called to rely on the power of Christ to practice forgiveness if for no other reason than I am willing to accept the forgiveness afforded to me through Christ.

13. Freedom from religion
I am one of those born and raised in The Church. Southern Baptist since nine months before I was born. Hardly ever missed a Sunday School class, Girls in Action meeting, or youth group function. I accepted Christ as the Lord and Savior of my life at the age of six, and so it would be easy for me to coast through life with my grape Kool Aid and graham cracker theology and my handy fire insurance policy. But oh, my God was not content to settle for that. In my early twenties, He aroused an awakening within me that opened my eyes to what relationship with Him looks like lived out. I am coming to know more and more every day that God is - as Beth Moore writes in her study on Daniel - "relational to the core." Every single one of these freedoms find root in the tender beckoning for relationship from a God who loves me like no other.

Perfect? Hardly. Again, my Fine Lady list testifies to that. And ya'll don't even know what I chose to leave off that list! But free? Oh yes, glory to God.

"I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro't
To me the victory
(Victory in Jesus, words and music by E.M. Barlett, 1939)