Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A Year of Freedom

Since 2013, I have asked the Lord to give me a word for each year. This year, I compiled those words in one place—and then sat in awe as I reflected on all the ways the Lord had brought that word to pass, some of which I couldn’t have seen until now.
2013 – brave: The year we moved to Plainview, and I learned how to make new friends. Again.

2014 – grace: The year of multiple failed fertility treatments, including two failed IVF rounds.

2015 – hope: The year I lost all hope in God’s plans for our family.

2016 – redeem: The year He began to heal me and rebuild my faith.

2017 – peace: The year of chaos and changes.

2018 – anticipation: The year He told us a baby was coming in 2019.

2019 – promises fulfilled: The year He brought our precious miracle.

2020 – joy: The year in which I experienced great loss and pain, and yet so much joy.

My word for 2021 is freedom.

Free from fear. Free from offense. Free from other people’s opinions.

Freedom in Christ comes after the good and hard work of healing.

This week, the Lord brought me back to an old blog post I wrote to remind me that He’s healing those places in me that were sad and broken and wounded in 2020.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3

Heals = râphâh – lit. to mend (by stitching); fig. to cure, heal, repair, make whole

Binds = châbash – to wrap firmly

I love the word pictures in this verse. The word for heal here literally means to stitch or to mend, so when it says God heals the brokenhearted, it means He takes our hearts, and He sews the pieces back together; He carefully, meticulously stitches the broken seams, the tattered and torn places of our hearts.

I don’t sew, but having watching my sister sew (she’s amazing at it!), I know it requires precision and accuracy—it cannot be rushed. And to stitch, to make repairs by hand, is an even slower process. So this work that God is doing when He is healing our broken hearts: it’s careful, it’s calculated—and it’s slow.

But the end result is beautiful because within this same word, râphâh, it means to make whole. So He doesn’t just start stitching and mending and then set us aside to work on someone else. No, He carefully holds our hearts in His hand, and with needle and thread, He sews, He stitches, He mends our brokenness—until we are whole, until we are healed.

The other verb here—to bind—is equally as tender. Literally, this means to wrap up, and the Lord gave me this beautiful picture of taping an ankle that’s been broken or sprained. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to practice wrapping someone’s ankle (or even harder—your own!), such as for an athletic event, but let me tell you, it’s not easy! Those who are skilled in taping ankles will tell you it takes a lot of practice. And what I’ve learned is that there is a definite pattern and technique. You can’t just wrap the tape like so—you have to follow an order, a pattern so that the ankle is tight and secure. Wrapping of this kind is an art.

And in the same way, the Lord takes our wounds, and again, He skillfully and knowingly wraps them; He binds them up in the perfect way, to keep the wound covered, secure, and in place. His binding of our wounds is His protection. He doesn’t leave our wounds gaping open. No, He tenderly wraps them as He knows how and allows our wounds to heal under His protective covering. This, too, takes time.

The beauty of râphâh and châbash is that He holds my heart—and because He mends the brokenhearted, because He binds up the wounded, I am safe and free. This is why the psalmists declare over and over that He is our safe place, our hiding place, our shelter, our protection, our covering.

He holds me and secures me and covers me and protects me—so that I can be free to fully live. Free to fully give. Free to fully believe Him, unrestricted, uninhibited. Because to really believe Him for the desires of our heart—whatever that desire may be—is always a risk, and it’s costly. But, really, it’s a safe bet—even if it doesn’t feel like it:

Because He is for me.

Because He is with me.

Because in Him, I am safe and covered.

In Him, I am free.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Proverbs 13:3
I saw a meme the other day that said, “You don’t always have to tell your side of the story.”

Isn’t that the truth? But it’s oh, so hard.

A person who doesn’t feel the need to defend herself is someone who has complete and utter security in the Lord. Someone who knows she’s a daughter of the king, righteous, and accepted. Someone full of grace and power and position.

I want to be that person.

All too often, I’m quick to defend, quick to justify—even if only in my head.

And when I do open my mouth to share my defense, I usually end up adding a line or two that I regret.

The root of defensiveness is insecurity, and the root of insecurity is a missing or mistaken identity.

We’ve misidentified who God is—and who He says we are.

Over and over again, the Word tells us He is our defender, our protector, our shield, our salvation. He is our refuge, our hiding place, our strong tower, our shelter.

He never asked us to self-protect.

He might give us wisdom to set boundaries. And certainly He’s asked us to guard our hearts, which is an action on our part.

But overwhelmingly in Scripture, we see that He is the one who fights for us (Exodus 14:14), who places a shield around us (Psalm 3:3), who hems us in, behind and before (Psalm 139:5).

Right now, there’s so much noise in the world, so many people trying to tell their side of the story.

Sometimes all we need to do is listen. And in listening, we find empathy and compassion and a capacity to love as Christ does.

My parents were big on having us memorize Bible verses when we got in trouble. These two have stayed with me (maybe because most of my tallies in elementary school were for talking J):

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life” (Proverbs 13:3).

“Whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).

We don’t have to open our mouths every time we feel threatened by what someone else says. We don’t have to give our opinion just because someone has a different one. And we don’t always have to defend our position. Because, let’s face it, sometimes we are wrong.

And sometimes, even when we’re right, we might win in the long run by listening first.

So, let’s be prudent, life-preserving people who walk in the security and confidence of our Christ-given identity and who bring life and joy to the world around us.