August 2, 2011
"We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth." Psalm 124:7-8 (NIV 1984)
As women of faith and joy, we're all birds of paradise, meant to freely soar, to live so fully engaged in the present that most folks wouldn't be able to tell that we've had difficult pasts.
That's how big God is compared to our past trials. He has already uncaged us, and He longs for us to spread our wings.
But I don't always live that way. Much like the main character Willa, in my recent novel, The Muir House, I've been stranded in my past, believing if I could discern all the devastation, I'd finally be free. Unfortunately, secrets in families don't always present themselves all bright and shiny. In their aftermath, I'm left with the question, "If I don't know everything, can I still be free?"
As I examine what the Lord has wrought in my heart, I know He has uncaged me. This is something I couldn't do on my own; it's His sheer gift of grace. Nor is it that I'm a Pollyanna now, rejoicing when bad things happen. It's that my perspective on my life is shifting from introspective pessimism to Jesusy optimism.
Why? I learned this truth: I no longer need to be defined by the trials in the past. I am not Mary who suffered (though it is part of my story). I am Mary who has been set free. Uncaged. Because of Jesus' radical, freeing act on the cross and His mind-boggling resurrection, I don't need to wallow back there; I can rejoice here, now.
We women sometimes live caged lives. Our cages (usually created from our painful past) have become comfortable. We've made our nest in them, letting them become our normal. Soaring is too scary, too new. We'd rather live trapped in our strange comfort zone.
Recently God directed me to fowler verses like Psalm 124:7-8. A fowler is someone who catches a bird in a trap. He is a hunter who observes the behavior of birds to predict what they'll do next. Then he snares the bird based on what it typically does. In like manner, Satan is our fowler. He knows our cages. He convinces us that the door to our cage is locked, that we can't flee. The truth? The door is open, but we're too afraid to fly.
Charles Spurgeon, in his commentary on fowlers, wrote this freeing sentence: "No bird of paradise shall die in the fowler's net."
My heart for you is that you'll experience uncaged, joyful freedom. That you'll be wily enough to silence the enemy's lies that holler, "Your cage is locked." That you'll take one step away from the comfortable cage and flex your wings a little. Dare to be brave today and trust that when you extend your wings, you will fly.
Jesus, please show me if I've made my past a comfort zone or an excuse not to grow. Help me picture the cage of my life as wide open. Give me the courage to step outside, to live uncaged. Oh how I want to fly, fly, fly. I trust You right now to help me soar. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary DeMuth
This month's She Reads book club selection is The Muir House by Mary DeMuth. The Muir House is a novel that explores trauma, healing, love new and old, and the life-changing choices people make to keep their reputations intact. Please stop by the She Reads blog and enter to win a copy of Mary's novel, a Kindle, a Nook, or a Starbucks gift pack!
Ask your spouse or a close friend this question (and be willing to hear the answer): "How have I been afraid to live freely today? How am I living caged?"
Journal about one thing that you keep rehashing from the past that you can't move beyond. At the end of your entry, write a prayer to Jesus, asking Him to shed light on the issue, then be brave and pray, "Jesus, please set me free from this pain."
Who in my life lives uncaged? What is it about him or her that inspires me?
What would my life look like today if I truly believed Jesus has uncaged me? How would I act? Think? What prevents me from being uncaged today?
Isaiah 43:18-19, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (NIV)
Psalm 107:14-16, "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron." (ESV)
Psalm 94:17, "If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence" (ESV).
© 2011 by Mary DeMuth. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 02 August 2011.