Tag Archive: deliverance


Photo credit: Woman's Day

Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Confession time! The transformation of recovery isn’t complete when Self keeps taking charge.

For the last couple weeks, I have moved, for the most part, into a guest bedroom in my house, partially to study without disturbing my precious bride, but mostly to hide from disappointment. I have repeatedly told the one who loves me that I was giving her “space to have her own way.” The truth is I have grown increasingly impatient, even intolerant, with her decisions lately. I have judged her actions as being based on her whim and emotion, when they are more than likely only lacking what I would deem an appropriate level of consideration of my own will, wish, and way. Either way, I am using isolation as a shield for disappointment, whether the expectations that feed it are realistic and fair or not.

Last night, while I fell asleep alongside her for a change, my mind and mouth were engaged even in the twilight of wakefulness. In the mental fog where the lies that support justifications begin to buckle under the weight of truth, I had some profound thoughts that escaped by way of mumbled, almost hypnotic, verbal expression. I confessed to my precious bride that, more than anything else, I am afraid of her. Not that I am afraid of her intentions or convictions, but that her intellect is not behind the wheel. After acknowledging my fear that her emotional navigation would run us, or more accurately – me, amok, I was forced to acknowledge that isolating myself from her to prevent injury puts my own emotions at the helm of my life, and so, constitutes me becoming the monster of which I was afraid.

The last thought I remember uttering before drifting off was that she is worth whatever pain I may experience, whatever it takes. As I recall what Christ endured for His Church (Ephesians 5:25), I am reminded that I have “not yet suffered to the point of shedding (my) blood” (Hebrews 12:4). I have not done everything I can. I have avoided pain by disengaging. I have behaved according to my own self-interest rather than sacrificing myself “as an act of worship” (Romans 12:1) giving preference to those around me. “As a dog returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11) I have put Self on the throne of God yet again!

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…” (AA, 62).

Holy Father, rescue me from the bondage of self!* I have wandered back into my old cage, and it is dark and lonely in here. Deliver me so I can be relevant to those You have placed in my path, and that You, not me, may be glorified. Make Your light shine on me and reflect onto others, that they may be attracted to You and discover for themselves that You are able and willing to deliver us from our prisons, no matter how comfortable we have made them. Empower me to do Your will only always. Through Christ our Lord, amen!

 

* (a variation of AA’s Step Three Prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63)

Not of This World!

second coming Jesus“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. (Joshua 24:14, NLT)

Most of us were raised by worshipers of the idol of Self – selfish fear, insecurity, or anxiety; selfish ambition, pride, condescension; selfish indulgence, greed, compulsive hoarding, eating, or addiction. We need to destroy these idols with no less determined zeal than Israel destroyed all their statues, taboos, and Ashera poles so we can live according to a singular purpose. It is our duplicity that so vexes us that we seek medication in the satisfaction of Self.

“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man[e] coming on a cloud with power and great glory.[f] 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:25-28, NLT)

In order to see without fear the things coming in the sky that will terrify all the friends of Earth, we have to be so opined to a preference for deliverance that we hesitate not one moment. Rather than looking back as Lot’s wife did (Genesis 19, Luke 17:32), we must seek Heaven so fervently that we are not even momentarily afraid, but stand and look up, for our salvation is near!

Self SatisfactionHoly Father, today, I look to You rather than cast my eyes on the habitat You have provided me. I turn my motives to Your Kingdom and will, and cast off the sin that so easily entangles me. Graduate me from the mire to which I have become so accustomed that I scarcely find it objectionable. Grant me an awareness of my sin and wash it off me. Let me not be so bound to the ways and whims of Earth’s people that I join them in their disobedience, but never let me forget to love them with the self-sacrificing passion You did and do. In Christ’s name, amen!

Warring with Flesh

flesh vs spiritI get very critical of myself for not being unified enough, for being duplicitous. There are two notes left on my bathroom wall staring at me every morning. One is of Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you,” and the other is Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth: give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” They serve to remind me that, whatever progress I have made, I haven’t arrived at “finished” yet. Sometimes that realization can be overwhelming. There are days like today, when my defects and failures seem bigger than my goals, dreams, purpose or personal value. Even as I write just now, I recognize that I am merely listening to the wrong voice – the accuser rather than the Redeemer.

I still struggle with Step One, afraid to introduce myself at meetings as “a compulsive overeater” without clarifying that I am “gratefully recovering” or some other such disclaimer. I am not who I was. I am constantly being remade by a loving Creator. So how do I acknowledge what I was with the tendencies that still haunt me while being faithful to look forward to the work being done in me without feeling as though I should have two faces?

The Apostle Paul, the great missionary of the early Church, struggled with this too. The “New Testament in a Year” reading for today was Romans 7, known for Paul’s description of this inner battle. He concludes it saying, “So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:25b, NRSV). Apparently, as long as we are draped in the tent of these physical bodies, we are sentenced to drag around with us the tendencies that come with being made out of meat: craving, lust, inflammation, death and decay. There will be a point at which we are liberated from them though, and it is that Independence Day for which I now prepare. The more I live according to the Spirit today, the less alien I will be on the day of spiritual deliverance, and more at home I will be in my new accommodations. Heaven isn’t about the place anyway, but about the Host.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a, NRSV)

 

18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” (Mark 5:18-19, NRSV)

spiritual isolationDelivered from the bondage of my own captors, I too have been instructed by Jesus to wait until our reunion and to be faithful until then to share with others how much the Lord has done for me. Should I turn away dejected and pout until my King comes for me? Or shall I rejoice that His Spirit lives within me and tell you of the wonders of His mercy? My heart chooses to sing of His grace!

In His gentleness He patiently waited for me to explore countless options and to do even more harm to myself as I struggled to prove my might over trouble and my right over others. When I feared rejection and abandonment, my fear gave way to rage, and as I exercised my will and flexed it in the direction of those around me the crowd around me grew thin. Vexed with the pain of loss and the fear of more, I retreated from social contact and hid in dark despair. I wound around me spiritual chains of hate which manifested themselves as bands of fat. So complete was my covering that I ceased to be me, but was “fat.” I was very much like the unnamed man in this story, identified by the legion of spiritual attackers that tormented me even more than my own identity. Then Jesus came to my cave. What a wondrous day! He closed the distance and called me from the insanity of self. Like Lazarus, I heard Him call for me to rise and walk in newness of Life. I stand with Him resurrected, my flesh and all its desires nailed to a cross next to His. I am never alone as long as His Spirit burns within me. A clay vessel of His warm, loving light, I remain where He has sent me, shining for you, dear friends, to see the mercy the Lord has shown me.

Dear Father, today, keep me faithful to my commission to show Your mercy to my friends and represent what You have done for me. Keep my sinful nature fastened to that cross and burn inside me with a passionate flame. Make my life a lamp in which others may see You, be drawn to You, and glorify Your Name.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Hosanna, Deliver

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Psalm 9:9-10, NIV
[9] The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. [10] Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Lord, I am under attack as only You know. Deliverer, please deliver me! Redeemer, pay my purchase price, though I can never repay You. Stronghold, grip me tightly, for my hands give out. Carry me from trouble and deliver me to the safe place of Your will. You have never forsaken those who seek You. I seek You now, Lord Jesus. Be in my tomorrow, so I can live abundantly today.