Rays of sunshine finds you pressed into the shadows of familiar fears. The unexpected light makes you close your eyes, the warmth relaxes your tense face. I watch the tight armor loosen its grip on your vigilant muscles.
A thousand dashes hopes, a thousand miles of pain, caught somewhere between nightmare and dream, life and death – is anything real?
Back in the chains of slavery, at least Babylon’s opium soothed your raw nerves for a while. A least in the beginning. At least you hadn’t tasted freedom enough to let your mind reach for it, stretch for it, move towards it.
In rare moments of clarity, you know better than to nurse nostalgia for a captivity, that even when airbrushed through filters adding fake colors and vibrancy, was never home and never safe. Though its sirens aim their song straight at your soul to lure you back, you know deep down, it would lead to shipwreck.
You left in the first place, because someone described the Promised Land in a way that sparked hope to the dying embers inside.
“God is for you, not against you,” they said.
“You don’t have to stay a slave, because He has the power to deliver you,” they said. And you saw in their eyes a freedom that eventually subdued your survival-mode cynicism that “Life’s too hard for pipe-dreams.”
And you began to see undeniable signs that perhaps God was paying attention after all.
And you made the leap of faith – you decided to trust God.
And your life changed – you tasted the salty winds of freedom for the first time in your life when you left your old life behind and began the journey toward the Promised Land.
But the unpaved road went through the wilderness, and it got hard. Much harder than you expected – it almost seemed harder than what you left behind.
Sure, God did come though and somehow created the bread and water you were dying for.
Sure, it was great while it lasted, but you got hungry and thirsty again. It just seems that while you are following God through this desert, the Promised Land is a moving target.
You’re tired of the unknown. The stress.
Even though your old life was hard, at least it was familiar. At least you knew what to expect.
The whole time you are pondering this, God is right there with you. You get so used to Him that you no longer notice the many ways He shields you and caresses you with the tenderness of a parent who just can’t keep from stroking a sleeping child. But the child is asleep and doesn’t know… So you tune Him out and allow yourself to fantasize about the life you wished you had.
Wasn’t it supposed to get better, not worse, following God?
Some people tell you it really doesn’t have to be this hard. They say God wants you happy – and you are not.
Who is Jesus anyway, and what does He want from you?
What you can’t see is the dark presence of your old master hovering over you, a toxic cloud of confusion and accusation and memories of failures and rejections, relentlessly buzzing over you, scanning for any opening to penetrate with hellish precision, the soul Jesus died to liberate.
As exhausting as that oppression is, it cannot enter without your permission. A rape victim myself, I know how violation incapacitates our defenses and cripples our perception of personal space.
Having been discarded as worthless, it’s a gradual process to realize our immeasurable worth. Because sweet words were misused to manipulate and control you then, it’s hard to trust them now.
Because life is still hard. So your old training kicks in and presses you against the walls in hyper vigilance, and cold as death, cynicism’s venom sneaks back into your thoughts.
That’s the opening your enemy has patiently waited for.
But he is not the only one fighting for you. Actually, where he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy, God is tirelessly wooing you back to truth, to hope, to love.
But the choice is yours.
The enemy cannot – and God will not – violate your free will.
So you are free.
And that’s where this ray of life dances over your face, teasing you like a melody to awaken your sense of adventure again.
In this shadowland, life will be hard. Whoever tells you differently is selling you a lie, and it will come at a cost.
But as light tickles your faith, can you begin to hear the songs from the Promised Land again? Deep in your spirit, you awaken to songs from your Homeland in your heart-language, singing in your blood.
And it stirs resilient strength inside you, a primal sense of purpose rising, a stubborn determination to stand fully erect, unashamed and un-intimidated, come what may.
You were made for this. You look around and realize that shadows are populated by so many just like you.
Some have fought back the paralyzingly darkness a bit further than you, and you see in them that each step towards the light strengthens their resolve and sweetens their fragrance.
Others have yet to even realize that they are succumbing to unnecessary deception.
Inspired by the first and infuriated on behalf of the second group, you suddenly hear your own voice and the words of William Wallace, aka Braveheart, thunder through your chest and cut through the fog:
“I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!”
“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God”
~ Bethel Music
“Should this life I live
Hold nothing but the cross where Jesus took my shame
Then with arms stretched wide
And my head held high
My every breath will sing again”
The spirit and the Bride cry “Come!”
Beloved, you are nearly Home,
At last ONE in unbroken Hallelujah.