Friday, October 1, 2010

Losing the Chain

I'm currently going through the study One In A Million by Priscilla Shirer. It's about the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading to Canaan, getting out of slavery and heading to freedom. It focuses on a people who were freed from the bondage of slavery under Pharoah, yet out of the two million people that God freed, only 2 entered the promised land. There was a story in the first week, that I have to share that has been on my mind constantly.
The show was a little long for my toddler boys. They enjoyed the circus, but as the acrobats, clowns and other acts neared their second hour, my kids started to fidget. They’d come to see one thing: elephants.

Our family left early and piled into the car to head home. That’s when we noticed an elephant eating behind a circus tent. We pulled up near the enormous beast, rolled down the windows, and gawked. This sight was just what the boys wanted!

Little was said as we watched with wide-eyed curiosity as the elephant dine. One question, however, begged to be asked. In a three-year-old’s broken English, my youngest voiced what we were all thinking: “How come that big ole elephant doesn’t tear down this fence and escape to freedom?”

I pondered that question as I noticed the elephant glace up every now and then and peer through the fence’s holes. Just beyond that wire enclosure was a whole world of activity and thrills. To me the elephant seemed to long for freedom. If only he knew that his little fence was nothing compared to his innate strength.

I pondered the question while looking at the elephant. As I watched the animal shifted his weight and a clanking noise followed. Then I realized that hidden behind a tuft of grass, a shackle held his left ankle. I shook my head at the bolts and iron that really amounted to nothing more than an ankle bracelet on a massive beast. If only the elephant realized he could break that shackle with one powerful move and be free. To my boys, it seemed the fence kept the elephant at bay, but I knew better. That small shackle tied around his ankle was the true culprit. The elephant couldn’t breach the weak fence line until he gained freedom from the chain.

The image of the chained elephant haunted me long after we left the circus. A Google search helped answer some of my questions. I discovered they train elephants by chaining them in infancy. Since the babies are not strong enough to pull free, they grow tired of trying and resign themselves to a life of limitations. They adapt to living in boundaries of the chain. Soon even a small rope is sufficient to restrain an enormous elephant. The animal considers freedom a hopeless notion and therefore stops trying to experience it.

Once a relationship with God has been established through Christ, the journey to freedom begins.
excerpt from One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer
I feel as though as I have bonded with this elephant, because for years I'm pretty sure I was hanging out with him in that fence. As I've reflected the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about the things from the past that have enslaved me. Yet though I began a relationship with my Savior and I was given the freedom--I still wasn't free. For years my biggest hang up has been insecurity. I didn't realize that God had given me all the tools I needed to break that weak cuff off around my ankle and experience freedom!

I've been so blessed the past 8 years to have 2 awesome pastors who have allowed God to use them in incredible ways. While they are both as different as night and day, they have both challenged me and guided me in breaking through those chains that once held me back. For 7 years I have chipped away at those chains, gaining a feeling of security and worth and value in different areas of my life. It was about a year ago that the weight of that bondage was totally lifted from me and that all the chains fell to the ground. I have never felt so incredibly free than I have this past year.

Is there something that is holding you back, that is enslaving you, that is keeping you from experiencing total freedom? If you have Jesus in your heart, He has already given you power to break that chain! Don't feel you are strong enough? He can give you the strength to do it! Addiction, insecurity, a relationship, a situation, WHATEVER it is, our God is so much bigger than it! What chain are you ready to lose?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Time of Renewal

I've so been wanting to record so many of the things that I've been learning, but have fallen way behind in blogging. Things have kind of taken off since my last post. More about that in a later post...

Andrew and I just attended the ARC All Access Conference last week. Not only did we get to know 13 of the leading guys and gals from our new church, hear great speakers, and experience some awesome worship, but we enjoyed 3 days and 2 nights of being Albany free. Now before you think I'm a horrible mother, Andrew and I have only been out of town together and away from her overnight, for the two nights we were unpacking after moving to MS, hardly a fun two nights! I love my daughter and I love being a mom, but being a mom (or a dad) is a lot of work. There was something very freeing about getting away, not having to ask someone is they had to go potty every 30 minutes, not having to cut up someone elses food before eating, not having to dress someone, etc. Even stops at the gas stations on the way to Baton Rouge, were so much easier without having to explain to a 4-year-old why the don't really need sugar wafers or trying to coax her into going potty on the non-continuous toilet seat. I think we both just enjoyed the time of being together. Getting to chat in the car. Walking around the mall alone. The late night talks after getting back to the hotel. And experiencing the conference together. Overall, just reconnecting. Stuff just seems to get in the way at home on the day to day. It was a time of renewal for us as a couple.

We got in on Thursday night about 11 p.m. and I was so excited to see my little one, that I kept trying to wake her up. She's a hard sleeper like her Momma and her Papa, so she never even flinched. Since we got back, I feel like such a better mommy. I feel more patient, more thankful, and more energetic. I think sometimes when you are facing the same things day to day-good or bad-they kind of become routine and sometimes we forget the joy we once felt. We miss the sweet moments. Or we just get into a rut and miss special moments. It was definitely a time of renewal for me as a mother.

I feel the same way with the spiritual impact of the conference. Andrew and I talked from Baton Rouge all the way back home about all we learned. Some things we had heard before, some things were new, some things we needed to be reminded of. Before we left my pastor told me, "You're about to get your tractor cranked!" After the first day I had to admit to him, "I didn't know I had a tractor, but it's definitely cranked!" Like with the time I spend with my daughter, when sometimes I get overwhelmed or get in a rut, and I miss out on the joy of being a mother, I think sometimes that happens with our spiritual lives. I've realized before that when reading my Bible or spending time in prayer, that it feels a little more like a routine then coming from joy or a compulstion to do so. And sometimes working at a church, it becomes more a "job" than a lifestyle. One of the speakers, Priscillar Shirer (who if you have never heard of, check her out!!!) said that once we have experienced the awesome presence of the Holy Spirit, we will never be satisfied to settle for less. How true! This time of spending so much time in the presence of my Holy Spirit, I've craved to see His presence even more. It's been a renewal of the joy of my salvation.

I think we all need a little renewal. It doesn't take long for the day to day to zap our joy, our patience, our love, our energy, or our passion. Sometimes we just need to step back, step forward, or just get really still and know that He is God and rest in that.