“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 ESV
When I become stressed, I usually want to run back to old habits and my old way of handling situations. Do you struggle with that too? Going back always seems easier. We have good intentions but change is hard. So hard that sometimes we’d rather go back to the painful but familiar than face the fear of the new and unknown. I mean after all, we “know” that way so well.
This is where the Israelites found themselves. More than once they moaned to God, “and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt…for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly…’ .“(Exodus 16:3 ESV) The Israelites had grown accustomed to Egypt – adapted to the hardship. They knew that life so well. These people of God – His chosen ones – had forgotten He promised better. I’d like to be really self-righteous and say, are you crazy, why in the world would you want that old life? But I can’t. I have looked longingly at the unhealthy familiar myself too many times.
Author and teacher Beth Moore defines captivity in her Bible study “Breaking Free” like this, “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.” When you look at captivity with that concept in mind, it becomes easier to believe there are things that imprison us. This has been a reality in my own life. I’ve worked through that study three times and could probably use a refresher.
How in the world can we stay free and live victoriously? I’ve listed a few basics to get us moving in the right direction as the new year lies before us.
- Include God. Pretty basic but often missed. We often strike out on our own and fail miserably. We lack the power needed to change. If we could do this without Him, we would have already done it. God created us to need Him. He wants a relationship.
- Extend grace. To ourselves. Yep. We’ve tried to change before and now here we are trying again. Satan will remind us of this often and assure us that we are incapable of change. I can hear him now, “Girl, why try. You know you can’t do this. Don’t disappoint yourself and God. If you are determined to try, please don’t tell anyone and embarrass yourself again.” You know he’s a liar, right? So what do we need to do?
- Tell someone. We need accountability. If we need to change our eating habits and exercise, let’s get a buddy. If we view or read pornography, let’s put controls on our PC and share with our friend what we are reading. Spend too much – set up a budget and review it and our checkbook with our accountability partner. Drink or use drugs – get involved in a group that can help us live sober. I could go on and on. You get it. Trust me, we work best in community. It is the rare person who can go it alone while giving up something that has held then captive.
- Make a plan. Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” Change doesn’t just happen. It is a choice and it is intentional. Find out what works best for you. It might take a little trial and error but when you hit on it, work at it daily.
- Get started. Let’s stop waiting for Monday or January 1 or our birthday or when we are not so busy. Today is the best day.
- Get back up. When we fall, we get back up and go again. The Bible says in Proverbs 24:16 (NLT), “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” I have heard it said that we only fail when we stop trying.
Somewhere, sometime, we are going to have to decide that where we are is more painful than the fear of where we want to be. When we realize that, we will be ready to “get the shackles off”, “But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.” (Romans 7:6 MSG)
Are you ready for a prison break?
Dear Lord, set us free. We need a Savior and we have found Him in You. We are weary of feeling bound and helpless to change. Point us in the right direction. Strengthen us when we are weak. Help us make connections with others that will encourage us to hold fast when we want to turn back. Help us up and dust us off when we fall. Remind us when we wake in the morning and drift to sleep at night that we are never alone. We have the power of the Risen King available to us. We make these request in the mighty name of Jesus! Amen.
This post first appeared as a guest post at Internet Cafe Devotions here