I was standing by her in church one Sunday, when I felt an urgency to pray for her during worship. You see, I knew what was going on in her life. I knew how overwhelmed she was with anxiety and fear. It had been a rough season...The lies of the enemy were loud, and she was believing them. She was at the point where she just could not see truth for the fog. It's so hard to watch the people you love suffer. It's also hard to know when and how to speak truth to them, so I specifically started asking the Lord to give her a clear vision of how He saw her in her current state. To paint a picture in her mind that would bring clarity and shake her out of this stronghold.
As I prayed, an image began to take form in MY mind. "No! NO LORD!!! Show HER! Not ME!!! One girl over. Right there....." All my resistance stopped in it's tracks....The image was so clear and so shocking that I just sat with it, and let it sink into my heart and mind. It was so special that it nearly brought me to my knees, realizing I was on holy ground. The picture was so vivid and heartbreaking, that the responsibility to share it felt daunting. However, I love her and trust the Lord's kindness. I knew I was being invited to bring insight to a friend who was struggling deeply.
I want to share this with you now, because I believe it is relevant to us all.
I saw a girl, she was absolutely beautiful. She was dressed in a flowy white dress, but surrounded by water. She had a heavy chain wrapped tightly around her body. I realized that the chain was causing her to sink into deep, dark waters, slowly drowning. It was such a distressing picture, until suddenly I looked at her hands. They were crossed tightly across her chest, each hand desperately clenching broken ends of the chain. She was drowning because she simply would not let go. She was clinging to the very chain that held her in bondage. She was free! The chain had been broken, but to really live, she had to release it.
The choice was hers. Would she drown or would she swim? Would she cling to the sense of control, even if was the very thing that enslaved her, or would she open her hands, and be free?
Here is the wonderful news! Not only did she receive it well and spend time working through it with Jesus, but she prayed for me the whole time I painted it to share with you.
Have you ever considered that scripture does not encourage us in our fear and anxiety? Instead it COMMANDS us: DO. NOT. FEAR. If this is something we are commanded to not do, there are some pretty heavy implications.
The bad news: if we live in fear, we are sinning against God. I don't believe the temptation to fear is a sin, but the agreement to walk in it is.
The good news: if we are commanded to not do something, that means we can not do it! We can say no. When the temptation arises, we can reject it. We can discern when a chain is sneaking up around us, open our hands and let it sink into the depths of the sea, then swim freely towards sunshine and fresh air.
I desperately hope that 'Girl in Chains' speaks to you. Oh how I want you to hear this! To believe it! To walk in it! You may never have one day in your whole life that you are free from the temptation to fear. The enemy may come at you with this mercilessly. I almost guarantee he will, especially when you set your mind to resist it. However, when you are a surrendered child of God's, the blood of Jesus gives you the freedom to reject it. Every single time.
How? I never want to offer hope without some ideas about how to find it. What if you picture yourself as this woman. If you're a man reading this, feel free to picture it with less flowy dress and shorter hair, but believe the image is just as much for you. When the temptations creep in, I will literally close my eyes and put my body in this posture, cross my arms across my chest, hands gripped tightly. Then I will physically open my hands and say "in Jesus name, I will not fear."
It will get easier. It will become more natural. It may take some untangling if this is a sin you have let wrap you up in knots. Know you are not alone. Open up and share your struggle with someone you trust who will pray with you through this.
I think another reason The Lord gave me this picture, is because a year later, I would need it pretty desperately. I would realize how easy it is to find myself wrapped in a different kind of heavy chain, drowning. Anxiety is not generally my temptation. Some of you may not struggle with fear either, and assume this truth isn't for you... However, I quickly realized that I could use the truths I learned to battle the temptations that are more prevalent in my life. "In Jesus name, I will not be discouraged. In Jesus name, I will not.....fill in your temptation"
I have had the opportunity to share this truth with so many people. I love how powerful it is and how relevant it has been to so many situations. Not long ago, He nudged a trusted friend to encourage me to paint it, to share the treasure He gave me as far as my little blog will reach. I hope the 'Lady in Chains' gives you freedom today!
Get excited, because the Lady in Chains is part of a set! There is so much more to this than simply not living in defeat!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" Galatians 5:1