Stories of Freedom
Freedom. I’m not sure how that word strikes you. Perhaps it’s a reminder to pause and take a deep breath before tackling the rest of your day. Maybe it’s elusive—a word you’ve heard all your life and have longed to fully grasp.
Hearing the word freedom may even cause you some fear since it means surrender and surrender can be scary.
I don’t know your story, but I know what Jesus desires for you—He wants you to be free.
Labels were a big part of my life growing up and into my 20s. The ones I owned and wore most often were “too much,” “not enough,” “broken,” and “useless.” I didn’t particularly like any of them, but they were what I knew; I thought they defined me.
In my mid-20s I experienced a couple of major health crises. In the space of a year I contracted a rare, deadly bacterial infection. And I learned that my knees were severely deformed, requiring major reconstructive surgery to keep me out of a wheelchair.
A Dark Season
This was also a period of great difficulty for me in ministry. Leaders I had trusted had deeply wounded me. Their treatment confirmed that the labels I was wearing were accurate.
But in that season of darkness, at the bottom of all that I thought I knew and had planned, I found freedom. Freedom is often found where we don’t look for it.
Broken and defeated, I looked up and saw my Savior. He extended His hand, and I grabbed on with both of mine. I cried, I questioned, I was angry—but I never looked back.
In my brokenness I came to realize the labels I had been wearing were lies. They were comfortable for me because they were what I knew.
Swimming in the Deep
True freedom requires great courage because you must intentionally let go of all that is familiar and step toward the unknown. I knew my labels. I knew how to manage them, and I knew how to wear them.
Stepping into freedom means stepping into the completely unknown. I call it “swimming in the deep.”
I think most of us live our Christian lives on the shore of the ocean of God’s story. God can bless us on the shore because He is a kind and gracious God. However, swimming in the deep is where God desires us to be.
I was sick of living on the shore. I was sick of the labels that had defined me for so long. Like a messy toddler I ran into the ocean of God’s story—His promises.
I ran until I couldn’t touch the sand anymore and fear gripped me and yelled at me to turn back. I was tired of fear, so I shouted louder and told it to get out of my story. And I let my Savior take over—I found freedom in surrender.
A New Anthem
I clung to Bible verses about freedom, repeating them over-and-over again, until my mantra became my anthem.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” (John 8:36).
“You … were called to be free,” (Galatians 5:13).
“ … I have called you by name, you are mine,” (Isaiah 43:1b, NLT).
“ … forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:12, NASB).
Freedom is a daily surrender. It’s a moment-by-moment intentional flinging of yourself into the arms of your Father. It’s releasing control to the Holy Spirit and recognizing “all my humanness cannot accomplish the work of the Holy Spirit.” It’s taking a deep breath and knowing that nobody writes your story better than the Creator of you.
“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and he delivered me from all my fears,” (Psalm 34:4).
*originally published in Great Commission Women’s Engage newsletter November