June 27, 2017
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
Years ago, I had a small pain on the bottom of my foot. Over time it became more painful, causing me to walk with a limp. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and made a doctor’s appointment.
The doctor quickly diagnosed me with a plantar wart. Unfortunately, it was on the pad of my foot, so the doctor said he couldn’t remove it, as the scar would be just as painful. The only solution was a slow removal by repeatedly applying a professional grade chemical. For months.
During that time, I took the maximum amounts of painkiller and limped everywhere.
Finally, the wart and pain went away. But I still limped.
I limped for at least a month after there was no pain. And each time I’d catch myself limping, I’d have to force myself to walk normally. I conditioned my mind to trust there was no pain, and eventually I was able to walk limp-free.
That experience taught me the power of the mind to keep you in bondage long after you’ve been set free. Although my experience was physical, I’ve also experienced feeling in bondage to a behavior.
That’s how I used to feel about my schedule.
For so long I felt powerless to do anything about the amount of work I had to do. In some ways, I felt like a slave to my to-do list.
That wasn’t true, but I found myself resentful of other people and their needs. I even got annoyed at the dentist as I took my kids to a checkup. As if they were the reason my life was a train-wreck!
It took years for the Lord to deal with my bondage to an over-busy life. Every time I’d make a change and lighten my schedule, it would feel unnatural. So I’d retreat back to what felt normal, and that was an over-stuffed schedule.
Our key verse today (Galatians 5:1) makes it clear we are not to be bound to anything or anyone who keeps us from the freedom we have in Christ: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
It’s easy to slip into habits we feel powerless to change. Whether it’s being too busy, gossip, over-eating, poor financial stewardship or any other harmful habit, God desires to free us from its ability to control us. He wants us to see we aren’t victims. With His help, we can choose new habits and not be controlled by our past.
We aren’t the only ones who have needed this message. After God set the Israelites free from Egyptian slavery, He set guidelines in place to help reshape their thinking and teach them how to be free.
They needed to shift their allegiance from a harsh earthly master to a loving heavenly Father. So among other things, God requested the people not work one day a week. How kind of God to build rest into the lives of people who had only known work. But it wasn’t just for the physical rest: God wanted His people to trust Him.
Their old master worked them until they dropped, but God wanted them to know their future wouldn’t be like their past. Although they were slaves before, they weren’t slaves now.
God wants the same for us. What controlled us in the past doesn’t have to control us in the future.
This means I’m not a slave to my schedule. I might have some non-negotiable responsibilities, but I do have some choices. I don’t have to fill every waking moment with something to do.
By choice, we all serve someone or something. But as we shift our allegiance to God, the chains to other masters fall off.
Today, He is still reshaping our thinking from bound by “chains” to set free.
God wants to whisper hope into every weary heart that tomorrow doesn’t have to be like yesterday. Yesterday we might have been burdened by others’ expectations or by our own choices, but today we can walk in the freedom of a new life in Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for opening my eyes to what has held me captive from obeying You fully. I want to trust You more and walk in Your freedom. Help my unbelief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, ...” (NIV)
Jonah 2:8, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” (ESV)
Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Doing Busy Better, releases next Tuesday, July 4. If you have felt chained to the master of over-work and are tired of feeling tired, you’ll appreciate the hard-earned wisdom Glynnis shares about how to find God’s gift of true soul rest. Pre-order bonuses are available when you order through Proverbs 31 Ministries.
Visit Glynnis on her blog today for a giveaway of her new book.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you feel weary today? If so, make a choice to stop working for five minutes and sit in the presence of your loving heavenly Father.
In those five minutes, pour out your heart to your Father, and let Him bring you comfort and peace.
© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Originally published Tuesday, 27 June 2017.