Set Free

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”  Luke 4:18 ESV

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I spent most of my life merely existing — loneliness and shame my most reliable companions.

As a young lady, I learned that God loved me. While I believed that it must be true because He said as much, I found myself among a new church “family” that was similar to the one I already had: neat and presentable on the outside, detached and unavailable on the inside.

As a new believer, I struggled and eventually fell away. No one acted the least bit concerned over my departure. My forgone conclusion was that they cared very little. Why would I believe any differently? It seemed consistent with my life experiences up until that point. It was my reality.

Perhaps He, too, cared little.

The stumbling block of my past firmly in place, I tripped over it again and again, but God never gave up on me. When my heart was willing, He began to lead me into a new and deeper understanding of who He is.

One such insight came from Katie Davis’ book, “Kisses from Katie.” She wrote of how saying “I love you” to the poverty-stricken children of Uganda — many of whom have never known the comfort of a mom or dad and have spent their lives in constant gnawing hunger foraging in piles of garbage for food — was an exercise in futility. Hearing the word “love” meant nothing to those who have never experienced love.

Little did I know what I had in common with poverty-stricken children a world away.

While not without parents, I grew up without affection. While not without food, I foraged through garbage trying to fill a gnawing hunger.

Admittedly, the garbage was sin, and it was I who did the digging. This is not in question.

But, there was an unanswered question in my heart: was I supposed to have a Katie Davis?

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” Luke 12:48d NASB

Sins of commission are messy and largely visible.  They are easy to see and easy to judge.

Sins of omission are tidy and insidious.  If anyone looks back with regret for failing to reach out to a broken girl who desperately needed to see what Christ’s love looked like, it’s not for me to know. However, this much I do know: if He asked someone to reach out and they failed to do so, it did not escape His notice.

Over time and because of His great love, I find myself the grateful recipient of much.

It is this great love which compels me to reach out to those who suffer, as did I, in the silence of shame.

It is this great love which compels me to reach out to those who found, as did I, freedom from the bondage of shame.

If there is one who believes they’ve missed their chance to experientially know true freedom and the love of their Father, I’ve got good news:

Your past does not prevent your future.

If there is one who has much but hesitates to reach out, there is someone who desperately needs you to come alongside and show her what love and freedom in Christ looks like.

Your past does not guarantee your future.

Telling people who have no concept of love, “Christ loves you” is simply not enough.  It’s meaningless.  Their friends and family “loved” them, too, and that didn’t turn out so well. Following Christ necessitates stepping out of our comfort zones and acting in a fashion that is the unmistakable work of His hands.  It means shedding our masks of pride and fear and being real.  It means doing what we would never do in our own power so that His power can shine.  We must love beyond how the world loves.  We must love in extraordinary ways which are unrecognizable to the world.  We must love in ways that can have only one explanation: Jesus Christ.

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