Hebrews 12:1-2 Amplified Bible
A few years ago, I decided to try to add a little flair to my daily workout routine. Back then, it was all the rage to “Power Walk” with weights. Since I was already an avid walker, effortlessly going 3 to 5 miles daily, I figured I could make my walk more challenging by adding a little weight. Not much, really. Just a two-pound weight in each hand and a one-pound weight around each ankle. No biggie. I can gain 6 pounds by eating dinner. This should be a piece of cake.
So I headed out wearing my oversized Minnie Mouse t-shirt, my hot pink leggings and my coordinating bobby sox and hair scrunchie (because in the early 90’s nothing said “physical fitness goddess” like coordinating bobbie sox and hair scrunchie)—and my small weights affixed to each appendage. And like all good Power Walkers, I walked swiftly and with purpose.
Not so for me.
I noticed immediately how I could not swing my arms naturally. Suddenly, a bodily movement I had previously completed subconsciously became deliberate and awkward….no, painful. It wasn’t long before those little two-pound weights started causing strain across my shoulders, my biceps, my triceps and my wrists. I found myself trying all different positions to get those weights to stop hurting me! Holding my arms straight down, straight out, bent, on my hips, on my shoulders, shifting both weights to one hand, then the other…
By this time, I was also painfully aware I was moving my legs just as oddly as I was swinging my arms. Those stupid little purple ankle weights were prohibiting me from fully bending my ankles and knees. I couldn’t stride with a graceful, fluid movement, like a normal person. I looked freakishly abnormal—think Frankenstein in pink leggings and a scrunchie.
Six pounds. Six pounds prohibited me from doing something my body was created to do. Something I had been doing effortlessly—and not at all Frankenstein-like—since I was a baby. (Well, maybe I looked a little like Frankenstein as a baby, but certainly not since then.)
You were created to hear God’s voice. In a perfect world, this should be natural and effortless. With graceful and fluid movement, you and Your Creator should be talking and listening to one another moment by moment. It should be as natural as breathing.
But we all know our world is far from perfect. Many things hinder our ability to hear God clearly. And most of them are clinging to us and weighing us down.
“let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus,”
In this series, we’ll focus on these weights. Weights that look harmless…normal, even. Maybe we see others carry these things and believe we should be able to carry them too. Maybe we’ve carried them for so long, we don’t know any other way to function.
Things like mindsets: how we view the world, what we think is right and wrong, how we believe things must be done. Parenting styles, musical preferences, church philosophies, expectations we place on others, fear of change. (This isn’t to say you can’t have opinions and preferences. But when they become a hindrance to hearing the voice of God, it’s time to reevaluate and discard.)
Or our habits: how we spend our time and do life. Our auto pilot.
Many of these weights are simply “in our hands” and we just need to choose to set them down. Others are tucked far away in our deepest places. We aren’t even sure how they got there or how to get rid of them.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
I used to think this scripture was about salvation. Basically, I believed that people who didn’t know Jesus were in bondage and people who did know Jesus were free. Commit to follow Jesus and BOOM, you’re free. It’s simple Bible math:
Me + Truth = Free
Me – Truth = Bondage
But about 10 years into my Christian walk, I came to the harsh reality that I was far from free. I loved God with all my heart. I served Him the best I knew how. I prayed. I loved the Word of God. I tried my best to live out the principles I saw in the Bible. But life was really hard. Harder than it should have been. I did a lot of striving. I had a lot of internal battles. And I struggled like crazy to hear God in my everyday life.
My equation looked more like this:
Me + Truth + Fear + Busyness + People pleasing – faith + anger + hurt – forgiveness + legalism + need to control – peace + a bunch of other junk = Bondage
I didn’t even know where to begin to declutter my life. Outside, I looked put together, but inside, I was a mess.
Through my process of personal freedom—a process that is on-going—God revealed to me two foundational freedom principles. Principles that continue to guide me daily as I press in to know God and hear His voice. And these principles will carry us through this series:
1. Freedom is not free. For every element of freedom we obtain, whether spiritual or otherwise, someone pays a price. Financial freedom means budgeting, restraining impulses and lots of hard work. Religious freedom for the early American settlers meant leaving home, starvation, sickness, war and death. Freedom in Christ means first that Jesus had to die. But it also means that we must crucify our flesh. Starve it. Stop giving in to our every desire. Ugggghhhhh…It’s not easy. But God can give us the discernment to know what to starve and the strength to follow through with the starvation. (Fun times.)
2.Freedom is not a one-shot deal. It’s a process. With every element of truth revealed to us through His word, an opportunity for greater freedom emerges. Only as we hold to His teaching—actually implement it into our lives—are the cords of bondage cut, one at a time.
I’m so excited about this series I can hardly stand it. Partly because I know some of you are going to attain new levels of personal freedom. And partly because I could use a refresher myself. And partly because, coordinating bobbie sox and scrunchie are NOT required.
For Part Two click HERE