Sometimes things just click. Come together. Sometimes I can suddenly say as Mr. Gru in Despicable Me, “Lightbulb!” And God in His gracious, merciful being reveals these truths to me in layers, perfectly timed so that I might see the picture He's masterpiecing.
Driving last weekend, Dara MacLean's, "Free" came on the radio. Belting it out as countless times before, suddenly I realized God wants me to claim my freedom.
Hurting heart and broken wings
Cannot stop Your love from always finding me
No more days wasting away
I finally realize the gift inside of me
My strength alone will never be enough
Your arms keep lifting me up.
You tell me I've been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams.
I saw a glimpse of God telling me, stop claiming your insecurities...I made you free. When you feel insecure, claim that I have made you free.
My mind went to studying "Who I am in Christ" through Neil Anderson's book Victory Over the Darkness. I am accepted, secure and significant. When I feel insecure about my body, I need to continually claim that I am complete in Christ, there is no condemnation for me because I'm in Christ, I am adopted as His child and He can never reject me.
Fast-forward two days...working through discipleship with a mentor and parked in Matthew 6:25-34. In my 30 years of following Christ, I have never notice Jesus saying in this verse, "Do not be anxious about your life...nor about your body." Years of quickly summarizing this passage saying, don't worry about food or drink or clothes but I’ve missed the phrase tucked between those two…“nor about your body.” The birds don’t worry but simply carry on daily tasks as God created them to do. They take care of their bodies but don’t worry or fret about their bodies.
My mind quickly tries to justify, but what about the literal scars on my body from the past: Stretch marks, flabby skin? Yet Jesus took my shame upon Himself, on His scarred body on the cross (Psalm 69:9).
Jesus doesn’t see those literal or emotional scars anymore so why would I fret about them?
Therefore, do not be anxious saying, “What do I look like?” For unbelievers seek after these things and your heavenly Father knows your body. Instead, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33, my paraphrase
Anxiety is to be replaced by two directives. The first, seeking the kingdom of God, is submitting every area of my life, even my insecurities, to Him and letting all of me be under His domain. The next directive, seeking His righteousness, is choosing to obey His commands, His written Word. When I take the focus off myself (my insecurities) and focus on His rule, reign and my obedience to Him, security in my body image will be given to me.
In studying this scripture, the question was asked, What have you let rule and control your life in the past months? Why? Lightbulb! I suddenly see that in trying so hard to overcome my bodily insecurities by reading books, studying how to, I have let these bondages that I’m trying to break free from, rule and control my life, motives, actions and attitudes. I have also let food, what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, etc, rule my life. The insecurity of my body and food has been sitting on the throne of my life. It is what I have been focusing on instead of Christ and allowing His rule on my life. Why? Deep down, I don’t trust God to heal or sustain me through this process. But what of trust?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And rely not on your own understanding,
But in all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
And we know that for the good of those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:38
Lack of trust, lack of His rule and reign in my life, has resulted in no spiritual fruit, no peace, no gain in self-confidence. Jesus said by their fruit you will know they are His. I have lacked fruit. I want fruit.
So I keep thinking, who cares? Who cares if I eat dessert? I am accepted. There is no condemnation for me. Who cares if I have a belly? God calls me His own, I am His and He can never reject me. When insecurity creeps in, I literally say, Christ doesn’t care about the insecurity; it doesn’t define me. He accepts me.
Realizing this truth is huge, but consistently, continually letting Him rule and control my life is my next step. The hardest step. In my quiet time, I see and grasp this concept so easily and clearly. Then the day begins…I quickly loose sight. A visual comes to mind of Jesus’ yoke. Neil Armstrong describes Jesus’ teaching recorded in Matthew 11:28-30 in his book Victory Over the Darkness. A yoke is designed for two oxen, pulling in the same direction. Often, a younger ox is trained side by side by an older, seasoned ox. I am the younger, inexperienced, don’t know what I’m doing at times ox. Jesus is the strong, experienced, older ox carrying most the burden, teaching me. And when Isaiah paints a contrasting picture of worn out or renewing strength in chapter 40:28-30, I see the yoke:
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
And to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
And young men shall fall exhausted;
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.
Growing up, my parents had a corkboard with the phrase, “Things I have to remember not to forget.” So as I focus on being yoked with Jesus throughout my day, I think to myself, God, help me to remember not to forget that YOU are the seasoned ox, I may be weary, I may feel insecure, but You call me Your own and You renew my strength.
What or who has been ruling and reining your life the past months? Why? What steps will you take today to let God back on the throne of your life as the seasoned ox?