July 1, 2024

“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 (NIV)

Imprisoned!

I couldn’t move when I came to. Try as I might, I couldn’t free my arms from their restraint.

At seven years old, and my body wrapped in a sheet like a mummy, I awoke from a tonsillectomy. Feeling frantic, I begged the nurse to let me out of this confinement.

“We are afraid your hands will go to your throat, and you mustn’t touch where you’ve had surgery,” she said.

As she walked away—even at that young age—I failed to see the logic of it. What was I going to do, stick my fingers in my mouth and shove them to the back of my throat where it hurt like the dickens?

Different Types of Imprisonment

The result of this physical imprisonment left me also with an internal imprisonment—claustrophobia.

For a long time afterwards, I had a fear of being trapped. Even into my teens, haunting nightmares recurred of someone shutting me in my school locker and not letting me out.

Thankfully, I am now free from all of that!

And thankfully, I have never again had to endure physical “incarceration.”

Joan of Arc

In her teens, Joan of Arc led the French army to freedom from the British. And yet, at the end of this accomplishment, she was captured by the enemy and held until they burned her at the stake. Even though she experienced external imprisonment, she never once wavered from her internal freedom in Christ.

This past year, I had the privilege of standing in the Reims Cathedral in France where Joan witnessed Charles VII being crowned king. The flag Joan carried into battle to bring about this event was nestled in an adjacent alcove.

How courageous she was—a teenager without fear because she trusted God and His leading. Would she have been fearful if she knew she would die at the age of nineteen in an absolutely horrendous manner?

It is doubtful she would have been afraid, for she had placed her life in God’s hands for Him to do with her as He planned. In fact, in the midst of the flames at the stake, she called out again and again to Jesus, forgiving her persecutors, all the while speaking of her love and devotion to Her Lord and Savior.

Indeed, Joan of Arc is the epitome of one claiming the freedom of Galatians 5:1. She stood firm and did not let herself be imprisoned by fear or hatred.

You might ask, If Joan of Arc trusted the Lord as she did, why didn’t He rescue her from this horrific death?

The answer lies in God’s guidance for us to Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

Because Joan did this even until the end, although I can’t know for certain, I believe the Lord ministered to her in the fire, shielding her from pain. I also believe Joan had accomplished all that God had set out for her to do, and then wanted to take her to be with Him for eternity. Can you imagine the smile on her face when she went straight from the fire into heaven?

From What Concerns or Issues Do You Need to Be Freed?

  • Worries?
  • Negative Thoughts?
  • Destructive Emotions?
  • Demanding Commitments?
  • Fear?

Worry

If you are consumed by worry, thank God for your circumstances (Ephesians 5:20). For when you are obedient to this verse, the Lord will set you free from your worries—if not circumstantially, then at least internally. You will rest in peace even in the midst of the situation because your mind is focused on God, not on what you can’t control.

Negative Thoughts

Being held captive to negative thoughts about yourself, about others, or about what you are in the midst of, is indeed comparable to being behind bars. Philippians 4:8 shows you how to redirect your thinking. This verse encourages you to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Make your list now so you can focus on these empowering and freeing things in time of need.

Destructive Emotions

Is hatred or bitterness holding you hostage, or some other equally damaging emotion? Then pray for those who have hurt you or persecuted you. This seems counterintuitive, but Jesus assures us this is the way to freedom. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45 NIV) To be a child of our heavenly Father—what could be more freeing?

Demanding Commitments

Are your commitments keeping you tied down, or is it your inability or unwillingness to let go of them that keeps you tethered? Or is it your concern over what others might think of you “backing out”? Are you resentful of the all-consuming time these obligations take away from your family time?

Ask God to help you sort through each of these questions to get at the core of the matter. Ask Him for guidance on what is most important to include in your daily schedule, in your life. Then, if you feel led to a guilt-free letting go, simply leave what you need to be free from at the altar. (Maybe you need to be free from the burden of trying to make others happy, or?)

Dwell on the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

“Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart, And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”

Fear

Beyond the above Destructive Emotions, Fear is probably the biggest thing from which we need to break free.

What do you fear? Others rejecting or criticizing you? Speaking in front of others? Heights? Praying aloud in a group of people? Sharing the love of Christ and the plan of salvation with others? Failure? Success? (Believe it or not in my years of counseling, I found many who were afraid of succeeding for fear they wouldn’t be able to sustain success.) Dying—or perhaps living in pain?

The spirit of fear is from the enemy to keep us down or to render us miserable and ineffective in our Christian walk.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”—2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP)

Therefore, rebuke the spirit of fear in the name of Jesus. Thank Him for the spirit of power and love and a sound mind and self-control, then embrace this spirit from the Living God and walk confidently forward!

What do you need to do at this time to walk in freedom?

Prayer:  Most precious Heavenly Father, I ask that You liberate each of my readers from the captivity they identify. Empower them with Christ, Your Word, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (collectively and yet as One), to live in the freedom of Galatians 5:1.

Thought for the Day:  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”—John 8:36 (NIV)