Freedom…

I spent years in the fog of a depression of my own making.  I did not have a chemical imbalance or any kind of disorder.  I simply tried to bear the weight of the world on my own shoulders, believing that everything that went awry was my fault, and everything that went well would soon be taken away.  I lived in constant acceptance that the other shoe would fall, and it would hurt even worse than the last one.

The bondage of this kind of depression is both addictive and dangerous.  It was addictive for me because it was a twisted net of safety.  Regardless of its impact in my life, living in a depressed state allowed me to hide from the vulnerability that came with joy.  It allowed me to hide from disappointment—I was convinced that everything would go wrong, so I lived disappointed rather than accept the ups and downs of life.  The danger is that when you allow these mindsets a stronghold in your heart, you fold in on yourself.  The world is all about you—and you push out the very Person and people who you need the most.  I have been saved for as long as I can remember—I simply never held on to the freedom that Christ offered.

I feel a connection to the Israelites and their constant state of grumbling amid God’s continual miraculous deliverance.  Four hundred and thirty years of bondage had taught the Israelites many lessons.  One of the most pervasive was to hope for nothing more than what they already had.  Though the chosen people of God, they came to believe that this was what their lives were to be.  So pervasive was this thought that even in the presence of a word of deliverance, they closed their ears.

“I have heard the groanings and remembered my covenant.  Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage.  I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.  Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’” –Exodus 6:5-9

God was not fooling around with His message to the people of Israel.

“I have heard the groanings…” He knew the oppression, the pain, the heartache.  In this statement He shows them He is a personal, intimate God.

“I am the Lord.”  These were not promises from politicians.  This was the Lord, the God of their fathers.  This was the One true God with Whom they were in covenant.  He is the Lord.

“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians…” Whether physical burdens are referred to here, I am not sure.  What I do know is that the labor of the Israelites built Egypt’s wealth.  Not only did the Israelites carry the physical burdens of the Egyptian expansion, they carried the emotional burden of providing for more than just their family.

“I will deliver you from their bondage.”  No more chains.  No more taskmasters.  They would be free.

“I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”  Not only would the Israelites be redeemed and freed, but their oppressors would be judged for their behaviors.

“Then I will take you for my people, and I will be your God.”  They would be free.  Their captors would be punished.  And they would be taken under the wing of the Almighty God.  In this statement He promised provision and protection.  They would not only cease to provide for the Egyptians, they would not have to provide for themselves either!

“And you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  Emphasis—repeated.  It is important that you know!

“I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession.”  As if the rest of it were not enough, they get the milk and honey too!

“I am the Lord”  As if to confirm that it can and will be done, He reminds them of who He is.

Imagine the jubilation!  The celebrations among the people Israel must have been overwhelming!  Finally, their deliverance was at hand.  They would be cared for by the Most High God.  And they would have possession of the promised land.  The people with nothing would have everything.  Let us look at their response:

“So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.” (vs. 9)

Where are the hallelujahs?!?  Where is the fattened calf and the worship of their Redeemer?!?

The Israelites could not see past their current circumstances.  They saw their taskmasters and nothing else.  Their own feelings got in the way of the Word of God.  Their “despondence” kept them from celebrating.  Instead of basking in the promises of God, they wallowed in their own despairing interpretation of their situation.  And because they were focused on what they could not do, they missed the blessed anticipation of what God could, and would, do.

When I read of the Israelites, I see me.  My years of depression and despondency kept me from recognizing the multitude of miracles that God was performing on my behalf and for my good.  But what is more, my inability to see His hand moving did not stop Him from performing miracles.  God did not need the Israelites to believe Him in order to act, but it certainly would have changed the way they experienced life.  I am now free from my self-inflicted burden of depression.  Jesus worked a miracle, sent a friend who refused to be pushed away, and showed me the freedom that lay just beyond the edge of my own small world.  I now live in the freedom He offers.  What is more, He has never guilted me for those years of depression.  Rather than leaning on those years of despondency, He credits me the step of faith it took for me to accept His hand to lift me out of the pit.  We rejoice together that the pit no longer holds me captive.  When we remember the pit, it is always is celebration of how far I have come, not where I had been.  Let go of the burden—He already holds it.  Grasp onto the hand reaching out for your deliverance, and trust that He will be gentle with your heart.  When you find yourself only seeing the fog, look to the Son.

Small world living is a dangerous and lonely place to be.  Look up to the only One who can put the pieces of this life together.  Believe that He can do what He says He can do.  Have faith, and move forward.

 

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Photo by Shirley B

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