The Smell of Slavery
[WARNING: Long blog post. Grab a cup of coffee.]
This is a true story: I spent six hours writing yesterday’s 164-word blog post.
All morning I labored with the words, and by lunchtime I was frustrated and trying to decide whether to burst into tears or get on the treadmill. I chose the treadmill. Then I took a shower, and when my son came home from school at 3:30 I walked up to him, plunked my head on his chest, and told him of my writing woes.
He said, Mom, just hit “publish” and be done with it. Hit the button, mom.
Tried. Couldn’t. Worked on the blog post another hour until I was so toast I didn’t have any other choice but to hit “publish” and walk away.
I spent the next hour trying to figure out why in the world writing that post was so hard.
I finally figured it out –it’s because I care about you so much. (I need to tell you that more often.)
I talk to women all the time –face to face and by internet. I hear about the battles with fear, struggles to forgive, shame over past mistakes, and failure to get rid of destructive habits. When I sit down to write blog posts I see your individual faces in front of me, and I so badly want to write something helpful.
I want you to be free.
Have you read or watched Amazing Grace? It is the story of William Wilberforce’s efforts to abolish slavery. His efforts to make slavery illegal fail in the courts repeatedly. Finally, he tricks some of the upper class into taking a pleasant boat ride –right past the slave ships. The conditions on those ships are so appalling (it makes me gag to even think of it) that these fine people are nauseated by the smell of human filth and waste.
Slavery has a certain smell about it.
And what I smell is enslavement that comes when we try to live in our own strength.
So yesterday’s blog post was about our need to recognize we are powerless and to lean heavily and completely on the force of God to transform our lives.
For six hours it was write-delete-write-delete-write-delete-write-delete. My heart cried out, What can I say to them Lord? How can I phrase this so they’ll know to stop working so hard in their own strength? What words will convince them to cry out their powerlessness to you?
Paul says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV)
Paul instructs, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” (Colossians 2:6)
We received Christ when we were powerless, and we continue to be powerless.
Paul also says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV)
The power is from God and not from us.
I weary of these two words that come from the mouths of Christ followers: I’m trying. Trying not to be afraid. Trying to stop eating so much. Trying to forgive. In this phrase is personal effort. Personal strength. Personal will to change. It is the mantra of relying on self to transform self.
It would be good to hear, instead, By the power of Christ I will not be afraid. By the power of Christ I will eat less. By the power of Christ I will forgive.
Let me hear, I cannot, but Christ can.
NEW MANTRA OF THE REDEEMED:
THE POWER IS FROM GOD AND NOT FROM US.
I’ve tried it. I’ve said to the Lord, I cannot continue, I cannot love her, I cannot forgive him, I cannot control my tongue (definitely cannot). And in the power of Christ I have continued, have loved, have forgiven, have shut up.
Powerlessness is like the key that hangs outside of Otis’ jail cell in Mayberry. It is right within arm’s reach –just grab it and be free.
Be free of yourself.
And when you are free from living in your own strength, you will not believe the joy that will bring me. You’ll tell me your stories maybe? Stories of living in the power of Christ?