It’s amazing that a tangible, inanimate item can sometimes carry such a negative connotation, how it can become a symbol of a difficult or unhappy time in your life. In my case it is a building. A building that, to look at it, now brings about a sense of relief and freedom because it is like looking at a prison that I escaped from. For a long time I had difficulty even looking at it, due to the memories that the sight would bring forth, but as time passed and healing came it became easier and easier until it became this symbol of freedom instead of captivity.
What astounds me, even more so, is the fact that we sometimes do not even know we are in captivity. Like we never saw or felt the proverbial shackles slipped onto our ankles and from there it just felt normal to be chained. The fact that we can become so delusional about our unhappiness that we convince ourselves that we are in fact happy or that life is as good as it can be. How we don’t see how truly miserable we were until we have experienced real happiness.
While this building now carries a reminder of God rescuing and setting me free, in order to do so He really had to shake me out of my delusional fog. This reminds me of how I didn’t realize, before giving my life to Christ, how miserable and in a delusional fog I was without Him. The hopelessness and misery just felt normal. There was no purpose to life and instead was just living day to day going through the motions. Any happiness at all was fleeting and depended solely on the circumstances in the present moment. I couldn’t see while in this state how brokenhearted I was or how sad and hopeless I felt. This is normal and all there is, right? Wow, was I wrong. Somewhere along the way I had been beaten down enough that I stopped believing there was more out there. Ironically, I always had a head knowledge and intellectual belief of Christ. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in that scenario and to never have been told of Him. And yet, even having an intellectual belief wasn’t the same as making Him LORD of my life, of trusting Him and relying on Him. Therefore, I am so grateful that He broke through my delusional fog to call me to Himself. Twice actually, once to prompt me to begin a relationship with Him and then once more to completely break down my walls between us that still remained.
Isaiah 61:1-4 reads “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
Jesus is the only one who can bind up a broken heart. I mean really bind it, not just temporarily patch it. Jesus is the only one who can proclaim liberty to the captives. We become a slave to our sin and our strongholds but that is precisely why Jesus came, as an ambassador of love, to carry the sin of the world to the cross and be sacrificed in our place to pay our debt. A debt too big and excessive for us to have the ability to make restitution. Jesus is the only one who can bring comfort to those who mourn, whether that looks like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a dream or the mourning brought on by a horrible event. He wants to wipe away the ashes on our foreheads, so to speak, as they used to smear ashes on their foreheads in biblical times as an outward sign that they were in a period of mourning, and exchange those ashes for a beautiful headdress or crown. A crown and anointing of the oil of gladness to show we are the King’s children and how He esteems us even despite our flaws. He wants to rid us of our faint spirit in order that we may be an oak of righteousness, a planting from Him in order to praise Him and give Him glory. The roots of an oak tree go down as far as the tree is tall. He wants us to be so grounded in Him that even the worst storm cannot uproot our faith. And only Jesus can build up ancient ruins and repair former devastations. He doesn’t want us to just walk away and try to forget them, leaving them as an open wound for the enemy to attack at a later time. No, He wants us to give them to Him, to allow Him to heal us so they no longer have any power or dominion over us. He doesn’t just want us to survive the devastation, He wants us to thrive through Him despite it and give Him the glory.
Sometimes I wish that I had always had a personal relationship with Jesus and other times I am happy that He ordained my life as He did. I don’t know that I would appreciate the freedom without having experienced the captivity, the hope without experiencing the devastation, the happiness without the misery or His love without my malice.