Freedom. It's my word. My mantra. My jam. It's the word I look for in every crafty store and on every piece of jewelry. It is my soul's story and my life's work. It is my deepest desire and my burning passion for every person I meet.
I've been contemplating a lot over these past 2 years about how I got to this point and what it will take to get me further down this road. I haven't actually arrived anywhere because the journey has no end. I am, however 14 years older and wiser in the ways of freedom. So what's the recipe? The secret sauce? What does the road to freedom look like?
Ingredient #1: desire. You gotta want it. You have to want to be free from the bondage that has been pushing your face in the mud all these years. You must want freedom more than you want air. The flip side of the coin is that you can’t make somebody else want it. Even if it hurts every fiber of your being to see them live in bondage, they are the only ones who can make the decision to do things differently. Nobody changes until it is more painful to stay the same. And sometimes we chose familiar pain over unknown freedom.
Ingredient #2: revelation. Yes, Jesus is our healer. Jehovah Rapha makes all the broken things whole in a way that time and medicine and a positive attitude can't. Those things are good, helpful in most cases, but they aren't our ultimate source of healing. I believe there is no true healing outside the loving, graceful heart of Jesus. Scripture tells us in Psalms 147:3
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
The Lord asks us to bring Him our troubles, but here's the rub: how can we take something to Him to heal if we don't know what's broken? If we don't first have the understanding of where we are broken and how we got there, how do we know when Jesus has done the work?
Healing always starts with an awareness of our brokenness. Even that does not come independent of the Healer; it comes as a revelation from Him. In His loving kindness, He puts a finger on the point of the pain and draws our attention to it. There is a level of work on our part and it is soul-searching, heart-wrenching work. It requires a deep commitment to the process. The process of pulling back the layers of our lives piece by piece, hurt by hurt, heartbreak by heartbreak to reveal the issues that stink up our lives and damage our relationships. Layer by layer, we peel the onion until a wound of our soul makes itself known. Here we grieve; then we hand it over to the One who makes all things new. And we keep peeling. The next wound, the next broken place, the next painful place that demands our attention.
Ingredient #3: brave. Chutzpah, as my sweet Jewish friend Ellen would say. We must be brave enough to take Him at His word and walk the road to freedom. To look pain squarely in the face and stand unflinchingly until the wave of His healing overtakes us. And once the wave has receded and calm has been restored, we stand soaked in the love of the Father and walking in more freedom than the day before.
While nothing is too hard for Him, Jesus often chooses not to remove our pain in an instant. Pastor Mark Jobe says it this way: "Sometimes we want to walk on the water that God has called us to walk through." We want the quick fix, the miracle story, the suddenly. But God cares so much more about our character than our comfort. He knows we gain so much more in the things He does WITH us rather than the things He does FOR us. His peace and His presence are found in the messy, hard, broken places. He brings the desire, the revelation and the healing. I mean, most of the heavy lifting falls squarely on the shoulders of Jesus. But we must do more than show up. To get from here to freedom, we have to be willing to take His hand and go together into the dark places of our soul. Simply put, we must be willing to change.