I am coming out of a very hard, difficult and emotionally exhausting season, as I suspect many you do too. Many days I felt like giving up on my call, giving in to self pity, agreeing with the voice of the enemy that spoke through human voices, spoke through my inner voice. Voices that called for me to come back into bondage, voices that told me I didn’t measure up, voices that reminded me of my past failures and “enlightened” me to my shortcomings. But then from deep inside of me the Spirit called me to rise up, to come up higher, to take courage…
This morning I read something I wrote a while ago and I found myself thinking…this is good, Nicky, pay attention. Listen to this lady, she’s on to something. If you have read this before, read it again. If you have not, enjoy. I pray that you too will hear the Voice of Truth and that He will silence the Liar for you too. By the way, in case you were wondering, the lovely young man featured in the story is now husband to lovely Gemma and yes, he added a few more.
TATTOOS, RED LIPS AND DANGLY EARRINGS
Written 31 August 2012
My youngest son has put the cat amongst the pigeons, getting himself tattooed. Word got out at our cell meeting and the reactions were interesting, to say the least.
It got me thinking and I started to question the Lord about all this. I can’t say I blame the boy. You see, I like to wear colorful outfits from faraway lands, I paint my toes green and blue, sometimes they even glitter, I pierced my nose once and the stud makes an appearance now and again, I like my lippy and my jewelry make a statement – I am colorful! I sway to the music when I worship, I clap, I laugh, I cry and sometimes I even shout “Amen!” when I like what a preacher says. I walk barefoot, I sit on the carpet, I even have a glass of champagne when the occasion calls for serious celebration. Now I want to tell my son no piercings and no tattoos. I think not.
Having said all that, I have to tell you I fear God with an all-consuming holy fear…but I love Him more. So I talk to Him about these things, just to make sure I am not off-side with Him. I want to share some thoughts with you.
As I was meditating on these things I saw a mental picture of rows and rows of cages. Small, damp, cold, bare cages. Jesus was walking from one to the other, unlocking them and swinging the gates wide open. Some people saw the gates swing open and just about ran Jesus over, desperate to get out of there. Some waited a while, stood at the entrance, looked out, saw others running, jumping and dancing outside. They longed to be there too, so they took hesitant steps towards their freedom. The further they went from those cages, the raster they ran. The faster they ran, the freer they became. Other still lingered in their cages. You see, it’s all they know. Those cages are safe. No temptation there. No distractions there. It’s familiar. Their grandparents lived in cages, just like those. So did their parents…never did them any harm is… is what they say to themselves. They know exactly what is expected inside those cages. Tradition has taught them well. They know when the next meal is going to come and they have very little responsibility inside. No-one ever ventures in there and if they do, they are very quickly enlightened to the rules and laws inside the cage, making it a safe place for all. No unexpected, “unpleasant” surprises for anyone. Often these ones will peer out of the cage, watch the ones frolicking outside and judge them harshly, criticizing the way they dress, speak, worship, serve. It’s hard to think outside the box when it is all you know.
What a sad existence, especially in the light of what the Word has to say about all this. Galatians 5:1 reads “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law”.NLT Yet another translation puts it like this: “The Messiah has set us free so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. So keep on standing firm in it, and stop putting yourselves under the yoke of slavery again.” ISV
I love the part I have highlighted for you – stop putting yourselves under the yoke of sin and of the law. The law kills but Jesus sets us free so that we can be totally free, without bondage of any kind. Jesus does not condemn us, He expects nothing but our devotion and our love. He will receive it through broken vessels; imperfect songs and mumbled prayers from a pure and adoring heart pleases Him more than the well-polished performance He has to endure too often. He would rather have a tattooed 18-year old with a heart breaking for the homeless, the poor and the broken, than a well-polished little Pharisee, when He is out, about town where the need is.
The verse I quoted is not just one verse, taken out of context, excusing my ungodly habits. Look at John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed, and Romans 8:2 “ because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” And Romans 6:16, 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
You see, friends, it’s not the length of your skirt, the size of your earrings, the color of you nail polish, or the lack of it, that matters. It’s whether you take Jesus at His word, trusting Him to preserve you as you make your way through life, dancing, singing, sitting on the carpet, painting your lips. I do not know what your cage is like or why you fear to leave it, but I know this, you do not have to make it your home.
Whether you are confined by religious tradition, the letter of the law, secret sin, addiction, bitterness, pain, anxiety, the spirit of fear, it’s all the same – you are a captive, living in a cage with a wide-open door. You do not have to fear falling into sin, Jesus will preserve you and present you to the Father, without blemish or spot – He promised to do that for us. As you surrender to the law of Love, give yourself unconditionally to the Messiah, He will keep your feet on the paths of righteousness. Trust Him! If you are caught in a web of addiction, of sin, of bitterness, unforgiveness or even religiosity, I want to tell you that you do not have to make that horrible place your home. If you haven’t already, I dare you to call on Jesus and allow Him to unlock your cage, and when He does, run friend, run.
If you are on the outside, having to listen to the voices coming from the cages, condemning you, stealing your joy and causing you to feel judged, weighed and found too light, I want to encourage you to set your eyes on the Lord. You will find Him right there, where you are, encouraging you to enjoy your freedom. He will guide you, He will encourage you, He will teach you and He will use you. Join your voice to mine, call to the caged ones, draw them out, and entice them to join us on the outside. Pray for freedom and may the Lord have mercy on us all. Stay free, keep moving further and further away from the cage and keep your ear on the ground, it is the season of God’s favor. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit as He guides you and have fun loving Him. It’s a joy and the joy of the Lord IS our strength.