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Thankfulness Project: Freedom

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1 NIV

Americans especially talk a lot about freedom, that which we inherited from our forefathers, that for which the suffragettes and other advocates fought, and those freedoms for which many are still fighting. Freedom means everything to someone suffering from oppression and slavery—ask any child who was ever kidnapped, any person ever who ever lived with an abuser, any girl ever trafficked. Freedom means everything when we are aware we are, or were, slaves. But some, like Ebenezer Scrooge, do not see the chains we bear in this life, the chains we forge around ourselves, link by link, through angry words un-apologized, through justifying selfish actions again and again, through greediness, through self-pity or hopelessness, through hidden sins unrepented, or for burdens we were never meant to bear, some placed on us at the hands of others, as if we were responsible for their sins or emotions, or shame for things we have already confessed, repented, and been released from.

“Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.” -Psalm 107:10-11 NIV

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How many, many times I sat in darkness, in despair, in gloom, in sorrow, in pain, turned away from the One who loves and longs for me most, because there was something I held back from God, as if He didn’t long to hear, as if He couldn’t heal it, as if He didn't offer hope, and freedom.

Sometimes my unconfessed sin was pettiness—a word spoken reflexively in anger to a loved one. Sometimes it was heavy—hidden sin I didn’t wish to reveal or let go of, high on the danger of the forbidden fruit. Sometimes it was grace or compassion or forgiveness I wasn't willing to extend to others because I wouldn't receive it myself. Sometimes it was a repeated sinful pattern or habit I didn’t know how (or felt helpless) to stop, or a fear I didn’t know how to release. Sometimes it was even anger at God Himself—how could He let this happen? Sometimes it was lack of belief in Him, or that He can do all He wills and promises in His Word, as if humans were stronger than Him and could thwart His plans, as if I could. Sometimes I just wouldn't accept His grace, His forgiveness, His love.

Always, my unconfessed, unrepented sins, unreleased shame, or my burdens (some put on me by others, some that I willingly picked up on my own) weighed heavy like stones in my soul. Each one a weight, a chain link, a burden that contributed to my weariness, to my sorrow, to my ache, to my guilt, and shame. When I hurt others, I need to apologize to them, but always, first, I must admit and apologize to my Lord, my Savior. When I fail, or I am weak, I must admit my weakness, my lack, to my God, and let Him step in with His tireless, powerful arms.

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. -Romans 10:10 ESV

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Freedom is delicious, like endless cool water to a dying wanderer in the desert. It is found first with confession. What is my struggle? What is my fear? What is my sorrow, my pain, my hidden sin? Voice it. Write it. Pray it. I must voice it to the One who hears every word, every plea, every longing. I must tell it to the only One who can redeem it. To redeem is to make new, to clean, to heal, to set free. How do I stop repeating that sin? How do I let go of despair? How do I break that habit that’s kept me bound my entire life? How do I heal? How do I find freedom?

Begin by confessing it to Him. “Father, I can’t. But You can.”

He defeated all sin. He defeated hell and death and the grave. He defeated the enemy of all mankind. He did it, at the cross. It is already done. The victory is His. All I have to do is accept it and surrender to Him, to give it over to Him, to allow Him to lead me and stop trying to control or do it myself, in my own energy or strength. Let go and let Him step in with His mighty power.

My friend, so many times, I have sat in a prison cell with no door. Shame over repented (confessed and turned away, not repeated anymore) sin is this way. I sat wrapped in chains I placed around my own neck and shoulders. And the Lord God Almighty pulled them off of me, and placed them on His own shoulders, his own back, with every lash of that whip, with His dying breath on a cross. “It is finished.”

One of my favorite poems says "Know you not who bore the blame?"

He called me out of the grave of my sin, and by His power we can walk out together, hand in hand. Together, we can do this. He replaces my heart of stone, of fear, with faith. If we confess our sin, or our weakness, our lack, and give it over to Him, completely, and allow Him to replace it; if we believe He can, if we allow Him to and stop grasping it up again, we can be free. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (yes, even of this thing, yes, even of the unknown future, yes, even of my fear or pain or sorrow, and HE WILL use it for His good purposes, because all His ways are good), and if we believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, not just to bring us to heaven, but to SET US FREE from ALL sin, so that we can choose Him and His will instead, then we will be saved (Romans 10:9). We will have freedom. Oh, how thankful I am for that sweet, refreshing, heart-lightening freedom!

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Freedom is a choice made every day, with every decision. Every single one brings freedom or chains, life or death. Do I choose what God desires, or something else (what others want, I want, the world tells me I should want or do)? We are free right now, and only right now, in the present, to choose to obey God or not, with this moment, with this action. We need His help to know what that is (do not lean on your own understanding -Prov. 3:5), and His power to help us do it (His power is perfect in our weakness-2 Cor. 12:9). For He often asks us to do what frightens us, what seems impossible, what is beyond ourselves, so that we might call upon Him and He empower us to do it. But if it is what He wills, we can do it, all of it, His way.

And in obedience to Him, there is freedom. In confession and repentance, there is freedom. In letting go of trying to control and instead trusting the One who never lets go of anything, of anyone, there is freedom. And oh, what delightful freedom it is! It is greater than we imagined, greater than the enemy wishes us to know or tell! Great enough to restore real, lasting joy. This is the Good News. This is why Jesus came to earth: “to proclaim good news to the poor. The Father has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18) “To loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke...” (Isaiah 58:6) NASB Hallelujah! Praise the Lord our God!

© 2020 Amanda Lorenzo