Last weekend, I was privileged to go to a marriage retreat with my husband. His band, Awake the Fire, was scheduled to play for the worship services and to have a full-length concert on Saturday night. I was excited about the weekend — a retreat on the beach, with my husband and our friends? What could be better than that?
God’s plans, that’s what! I arrived with expectations of a good time. But God gave us a good time plus life-affirming words from Him and such a sweet, sweet time in His presence…it was an experience that left my little expectations in the dust. I’m so glad that He loves to give us far more than we can think to ask. (Ephesians 3:20) Every single day I was there, I learned something from Him. I was absolutely blown away by the way His Spirit moved in that place.
I have to share this with you because it was something I needed reminding of so, so much. It’s simple, really, and something we know but sometimes kind of lose sight of in the day to day…God hears every single cry of your heart. He hears and even better…He cares. Sometimes we do know in our minds and hearts that God is there in every moment and that He loves us, but it’s like we don’t expect Him to make a difference in the small things that matter to us…or, maybe, part of satan’s scheme is to deceive us into believing that our worries and sorrows aren’t important enough for God to notice and maybe we should just try to work it out ourselves.
I really think that we, as Christians, sometimes hold onto things out of some feeling that God has given us the tools to fix our problems and so our faith (or the lack thereof) must be the reason things aren’t getting better…and so then we feel guilty or ashamed that we have these issues in our hearts.
Guess what? We’re not in charge of those tools and we’re certainly not capable of fixing ourselves. Sometimes we expect so much out of ourselves when we should be expecting it from God. It’s like we think that we shouldn’t bother God — that we should be strong enough to fend for ourselves unless things get really bad. (Could part of this thinking be pride sneaking in?) But needing God doesn’t make you a bad Christian! We do need Him, in every single moment of our lives. When you realize that and admit that you can’t be self-sufficient, then you make room for God to change your life. Because in our weakness, HE is strong. Everything we need comes from His hands, not ours. We do need to use the tools God has graciously given to us — but when we pick up His Word looking for answers or go to Him in prayer, it is His Spirit that makes those resources effective in our lives.
Guess what you have when you give up control of your control? Freedom. Freedom was the theme of the weekend and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is one of the themes of God’s great plan for us. From the beginning, He gave us free will to make choices…and when we fell into a trap of bondage (sin), He immediately began giving us ways to break out of those chains. He gives us freedom from worry because He tells us to cast our cares on Him, freedom from sorrow because His joy is our strength, freedom from doubt and anxiety because He gives us a peace that is beyond our own understanding, freedom from sin through Jesus, freedom from death with His eternal life, freedom from fear with His perfect love!
And every day can be lived in freedom from our doubts, intimidation, stress, regret — you name the feeling that is keeping you tied up in knots, down to the details of your life, and He is the I AM who can release you from it.
On Saturday, the speaker taught us about the show-down between Sennacherib and King Hezekiah in Isaiah 36 & 37. Sennacherib was speaking to the people of God and threatening them with all kinds of lies, telling them that the Lord could not be depended on to rescue them from their trouble. Hezekiah took those threats and laid them before God.
We took time to write down the threats and fears that satan uses to fight us (remember, we are in a battle!) and we laid them before God, offering them to Him. We didn’t show anyone what we had written.
And then on Sunday morning, two women prayed with me at separate times. And each woman, through the Spirit of God, addressed every single thing on my list and even those issues I hadn’t written down because I thought I was handling them myself, down to the fact that I haven’t been able to sleep well in weeks.
Let me tell you something. Whatever is discouraging you, whatever you’re afraid of, whatever is heavy on your heart — our God knows. He sees it all and if you lay it down at His feet, He is able to deliver you from whatever is holding you down. John 8:36 says that if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed! He does not want us to live this life in bondage…He came to this earth to set us free, and that means freedom in every single tiny area of your life!
If there’s something that you need freedom from, lay it out before our God. His love and compassion is infinite and unfailing…He wants to give you freedom, joy, and peace. He’s just waiting for you to call on Him.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” ~Matt. 7:7