Tag Archives: darkness

Chain Free Living


To demonstrate how difficult it is to accomplish even the easiest tasks while you are bound up, I once tried to preach a sermon with my hands tied behind my back. I wasn’t sure how it would play out, but it proved to be more difficult than I could imagine. My first problem was holding the microphone. Then I needed help turning the pages in my bible. After that, I needed to turn the page in my notes. Finally, I couldn’t use my hands then I spoke, which apparently I do.

So many of us try to do more than speak while we are bound up. We actually try to go through life while we are bound up in depression, addiction, grief, sin, etc. If you’ve been there, you know that even the smallest tasks can prove to be difficult. Go designed you to live a life of freedom. As Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that He set you free.” Jesus also said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

There’s a song called “Chain Breaker” that says, “If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior. If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker.” The words to this song remind me that I don’t have to live bound up in my chains. There is no chain so strong that God cannot break it in your life. There is no depression so dark that He can’t bring you out of it. I’ve been in the deep, dark prison of depression and He set me free.

I love reading Psalm 107 because it’s a reminder of what God can do for us. In verse 14 it says, “He brought them out of their gloom and darkness and broke their chains in pieces” (GNT). If you’re bound up by chains today or are in a dark place, call out to God. Ask Him to lead you out of that place and to set you free. I know if He did it in my life, He can do it in yours. It’s time we all got back to living the life of freedom that God created us to live.

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Calling Me Out Of Darkness

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Lord,

I want to say, “Thank you,” because you’ve given me another day to walk this earth. It’s not something I take lightly or for granted. Because of what you set in motion so long ago, the sun came up this morning. Sometimes it reminds me that I have so much to do. Sometimes it reminds me of the problems I have to face. Sometimes it’s an unwelcome light because the night was too short. Each time it rises though, it reminds me that you are in control of everything that goes on in my life and in this world.

I know that because you live in me, there is nothing I will face today or any day that is stronger than me. There is nothing that is able to defeat me because you are greater than anything that will ever come against me. Sometimes I lose sight of that and start to feel defeated. Sometimes I think that the whole world is crashing down and it will take me down with it. In those times, I ask that you would remind me of your promise to never leave me nor forsake me. Remind me of who I am in you. Remind me that I am more than a conqueror through you.

When I think of the story of my life, I think of all the ups and downs, the good times and the bad times. Through it all, you have constantly been by my side. At times I couldn’t see your hand at work. All I could see were the problems that had me closed in on every side. Looking back, I can see your hand on me even in the darkest of nights. I can see that you were developing me and pushing me to grow closer to you. Like a seed under ground struggling to break through the dark, dirty soil trying to get to the light, you were using the dark times to strengthen me and to push me toward your light.

I have always grown the most when I couldn’t see the light. It was hope that helped me push through the hard places. At times it seemed like I would never come out of the darkness, but you were there with me, encouraging me, pushing me and calling me into your marvelous light. You weren’t content to leave me as a seed sown in soil laying dormant. Your plan for my life is to use the dark places to grow my roots in you. To make me stronger once I reach the light. To have me firmly planted so that when the winds of life blow and the rain beats down on me, I’ll look back, remember what you’ve done in my past and my roots will hold strong.

I don’t know what the future of my story looks like, but with each sunrise, you give me one more day to live it out. You give me one more chance to trust you, to open up and share your beauty. Keep writing my story as you always have. Keep giving me opportunities to grow and to trust in you more. Let the water of your word feed me and strengthen my roots. Let your face shine on me and draw me closer to you. Let the story of my life show that you are a faithful God who never abandons His children and calls them out of darkness into light. I love you with everything in me.

Thank you for all you have done and are going to do in this story.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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Making God Your Everything

There have been times when I’ve faced things that didn’t make sense. There have been times when I didn’t understand why I was going through something. I’ve had those moments when I’ve cried, “Make it stop.” I’ve been to the dark places where you question everything. There’s a place where I’ve questioned my faith, God’s existence and life itself. It’s scary to be at the end of your rope and to question letting go. I found that even in those places and moments God is there.

He is not afraid of you asking the hard questions. He is not scared to go to those dark places with you. When it seems everyone else has abandoned you and you are all alone, He is there. When life has broken apart and all is lost, He is there. He is an ever present help in your time of need. He is shelter from the storm that won’t stop beating you down. He is strength when the bottom falls out again and again. He never fails.

I’ve learned that when I’ve come to the end of my rope, when my strength gives out, His grace and strength are sufficient. I don’t think most people get to experience God this way because they’ve never been to this point. It’s a high price to pay in your life to get to that point. When you’ve lost all you have, He becomes your everything. When He becomes your everything, you will never be the same. You won’t look the same. You won’t act the same. You won’t think the same.

Once you hit that point in your life, God quits being a convenience and He becomes a necessity. I’ve lived my life both ways. I know what it’s like to have Him around and use Him when it was convenient. But I’ve also been to the point when there was nothing but me, Him and a whole lot of darkness and emptiness. I’ve been to the point where He became so real it was as if I could reach out and touch Him, but it took me getting to the point of desperation before that happened.

I know that’s how it happened for me, but I don’t think it has to be that way. God doesn’t want to wait until we get to that point to become our everything. I think He would rather hold that position in our lives before we get there. Whether we are riding high on the mountain tops, struggling with the climb up, falling down or stuck in the valleys of life, God is there and He wants to be a necessity in our life. He wants to be our strength. He wants to be more important to us than our next breath.

Yes, more important than your next breath. You rely on your next breath for life, but do you rely on God for your next breath? When God takes that place in your life, He is your everything. He is your life. He is your strength. He is where He wants to be in your life. I’ve had moments when He was there in my own life. I’ve found that keeping Him there is the hard part. Paul got to that point too. In Philippians 1:21-22 he said, “For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. If, however, it is to be life in the flesh and I am to live on here, that means fruitful service for me; so I can say nothing as to my personal preference [I cannot choose] (AMP).”

When God has become your everything, your next breath doesn’t mean very much. If it doesn’t come, I’ll be ok because you’ll be standing in His presence in the next second. If He grants it, then you’re here to do His will and to be fruitful. God’s power and presence in your life can be so powerful and so real, but you have to learn to trust Him with your everything. For me, it took getting to that dark lonely place where I was hanging by a thread. You don’t have to wait until that point though. Wherever you are, reach out to Him and make Him your everything today.

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You Are Not Forgotten

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I was talking to a friend last night at church about how he was doing since returning from our trip to Haiti. He, like many of us who went, has had a hard time readjusting to life here. He said, “In the first few days back, I kept trying to process the poverty and devastation that I saw there. It was overloading my mind and I couldn’t take it. I finally had to quit trying to process how people just like you and me live in that devastation and still get up, get dressed in a shirt and tie and go to work.”

He’s right. I’ve been to a lot of third world countries and seen poverty. Haiti was somehow different. I don’t know if it was the worst I’ve seen or that it just seemed like the worst because most people there seemed to have no hope. The unemployment rate is above 50% and the ones that do have jobs only make between $2 and $5 a day. Most of us make more in an hour than they will all week.

With hopelessness comes the thought that God has forgotten you. People here experience that. I know I have. You probably have to at some point in your life. If you are there right now, you’re not alone. Not everyone has been in your exact circumstance, but plenty have felt that they’ve been forsaken by God. Jesus felt that way too. When He was hanging on the cross, he cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

I’ve never given much thought to Him saying that on the cross because I knew what was going to happen 3 days later. He wasn’t forsaken and neither are you. He had to go through that so that He could identify with us when we feel forsaken. I Peter 4:1 says, “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like Him.” He knows what it’s like to think you’re alone in this world and to even be forgotten by God.

Since He knows what you’re feeling, He won’t leave you in that place. What I learned in my own life is that had I not gone through that time of thinking He had forgotten me, I couldn’t fully rely on Him now. Psalm 139:7 tells us that there is no where on this earth that we can go to get away from God’s presence. Even if you can’t feel or see God, He’s there with you in that dark place. He has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. Rest in the hope that He will bring you out of that valley and bring you into His marvelous light. He did it for Jesus. He did it for me. He will do it for you.

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Shoveling Through a Mountain

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I haven’t been able to get this image out of my head. What you see is the same picture, but one is a close up. That is a man shoveling through that mountain one spade full at a time. We encountered him on the road from Port au Prince to Gonaives on our second day. Ever since then I have thought about him and the work he is doing. At first I felt sorry for him. Tackling a mountain with a shovel is a huge task. He may never get through it, but that isn’t stopping him from shoveling.

Each of us face mountains in our lives. Few of us have the faith it takes to say to that mountain, “Move and be thrown into the sea.” So we sit in the valley and wait. We lack the strength or courage to go over it. So we don’t accomplish what God has for us to do. We make our home in the darkness of the valley. We forget what life in the light is. We forget what joy is. We loosen our grip on our faith and wonder where God is.

Not this man. He looked at that mountain and said, “I may not have the strength or ability to go over you, so I will go through you!” He picked up a shovel and started digging. I imagine it has taken years to get this far. For him, the first few shovels, the first week, first month and year may not have seemed like he was making progress. I’m sure all he could see was that mountain and not what he’d moved.

Recovery doesn’t come quickly. Healing is a process that can take years. There will always be scars from our past. We can choose to embrace them or we can keep them hidden. Jesus didn’t choose to hide His scars, so why do we? In fact, He encourage others like Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound on my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” Others find hope in your scars. They find faith in your wounds.

If God has brought you through a mountain of pain, share your story to help others believe they can make it. If you’re shoveling through your mountain right now, don’t give up. You are making progress that you may not be able to see from your perspective right now. If you are camped in the darkness, looking at your mountain thinking, “I’ll never get through this,” there is hope. God’s Word is your light in that dark place. Speak scriptures out loud. Look in Psalms and read there. David went through some dark times too.

Your life is precious to God and others. Don’t let that mountain block your vision of what God has for you. He is greater than that mountain and if He is with you, what can stand against you? Certainly not that mountain! Let hope arise in your soul today. You are a child of God made for victory. You’re going to have to pick up that shovel though and start digging. It takes time and effort. You can do this. You can shovel through this mountain.

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