Thank you for joining me in my series called What I’m Loving and What I’m Learning.
ANDY SAW ME IN A CASTLE
About a month ago, Andy had a vision about me when he was praying for me. He saw me trapped in a stone castle tower, but my chains were broken and I could walk out at any time. The Lord told Andy that he would use him to pursue me and walk me out of captivity.
She will be free of her captors, God said.
Soon after Andy told me about his vision, I shared it with my friend to see if she could help me understand who my captors were. Her eyes got wide, and she told me that someone had just spoken the same vision about her. That they saw her in a castle dungeon, her chains were broken, and she could just walk out. Nothing was holding her back.
Could this vision apply to many of us?
Then I remembered the stories in the Bible when people walked right out of prison. Twice in the book of Acts, once when Peter’s chains fell off him and an angel led him out of prison in the middle of the night (Acts 12:5-11) and again when Paul and Silas were freed from prison because there was an earthquake and the prison doors flew open. They didn’t run away, but they ministered to the jailer and he had them released the next day (Acts 16:25-36).
The Lord did these things. He broke the chains, and the captives walked out.
Story after story in the Bible came to mind where someone walked straight out of captivity, out of a death sentence, or from death to life:
- Daniel out of the lion’s den
- Shadrak, Mishak, and Abednego out of the fire
- Joseph out of prison
- The Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea
- The woman caught in adultery walked away unharmed
- Jesus as he walked through the crowds when they wanted to stone him
- Lazarus from the grave
- Jesus from death to resurrection
The Lord did these things. And he continues to.
I believe this is not just a word for me, but for many of us. We are free to walk out. God is inviting us to walk out. He will make it happen.
Who are my captors? According to Andy’s vision, I am free but sometimes I choose captivity.
(How beautiful that God has given me a husband who listens to the voice of God and is willing to pursue me and help me escape, break free from whatever holds me back!)
CROWN OF BEAUTY
At the women’s retreat I attended in May, I had a vision during worship. God was handing me a beautiful gold crown with jewels in it. I refused to take it. I told him, “I am a servant. I cannot wear a crown. I don’t want it.” I felt like he asked me to reconsider his offer. “Why not?” He seemed to ask. “I cannot wear it,” I said. “It doesn’t suit me.”
“What would change if you wore it?” he asked.
“I would have to be dignified,” I said. “Hold my head high. Behave the way someone who wears a crown behaves. I would not be able to live my life looking down at my feet.”
On my drive home, I imagined what life would be like if I accepted the crown he offered me. What kind of person would I be? How would I speak? How would I behave? How would I see myself? How would I treat myself and others?
I’m still considering his offer.
When Jesus was on earth, he announced that this scripture was fulfilled in him (Luke 4:20).
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.
To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” —Isaiah 61: 1-3
This summer’s theme verse at Gleanings for the Hungry, where we live at missionaries, is Isaiah 61:1-3. The word INSTEAD stands out in this passage, as it is repeated three times. The idea of the Lord exchanging difficulty and tragedy with his heavenly gifts is repeated over and over.
God offers us something beautiful that represents our dignity and belonging — a crown of beauty— instead of the remnants of what we used to be, or the despair and destruction in our lives — ashes.
The more we looked at this theme, the more we recognized the steady stream of INSTEAD stories in our own lives, paralleling the INSTEAD verses so eloquently expressed in Isaiah.
Life instead of death.
Provision instead of grief.
Joy and praise instead of despair.
What does freedom instead of captivity mean to you?
Are you still a captive, even with your chains broken, like I apparently am?
What kind of freedom do you need right now in your life?
What gift is God offering you? Will you say yes?