Bible Verses on Freedom

  •  Psalm 118:5 NLT
    In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
        and the Lord answered me and set me free.
  • Psalm 119:45 NIV
    I will walk about in freedom,
        for I have sought out your precepts.
  • Isaiah 61:1 NIV
    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,
  • John 8:36 NASB
    So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed
  • Romans 6:22 NIV
     But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
  • Romans 8:1-2 NIV
    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
  • Romans 8:20-21 NIVFor the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom
  • Galatians 5:1 NIV
    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 5:13-14 NLT
    For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Ephesians 3:12 NIV
    In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
  • 1 Peter 2:16 NIV
     Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

john 8

Letting Go of What I Didn’t Do This Summer

“Can we make  brownies?”

That’s what my daughter asks when I tell my kids we’re going to an outdoor concert along the riverfront.

She asks about brownies because this is what  we do.

We tote lawn chairs to an open area on the lawn, spray on some bug spray, and settle in to  listen to the music while munching on our two favorite “outdoor concert snacks:”  popcorn and brownies.

Sometimes we bring cookies instead or skip the popcorn.

But not often.

Outdoor concert = popcorn + brownies.

It’s an equation we know and love.

My kids love traditions and they eagerly hold me to them.  That’s why we poured the ingredients for brownies into a mixing bowl this morning to make our treat for tonight’s adventure.

Because what would summer be without outdoor concerts?  And what would outdoor concerts be without popcorn and brownies?

Tragic, that’s what!  Full of despair and disappointment!

Of course, that’s just silly talk.  But somehow it can feel that way.

Unmet expectations can push our weary souls right to the ground.

I love our family traditions as much as my kids do, but I also bear the burden of them and I’ve felt that weight a little this summer.

It’s not just traditions, though, that can keep me dancing on the edges of guilt.

It’s mostly what I expect of myself.  Roles I need to fulfill.  Tasks I need to  accomplish.   Must-do’s, should-do’s,  and have-to’s.

It’s endlessly seeing ideas and reminders that I could do more and I could do better.

It’s comparing myself with others and not feeling like I measure up.

Those other moms have their kids accomplishing all  these cool activities  this summer.  Look at how many books they read, places they went, projects they made!

The pressure!

It comes from comparing ourselves with our own past.

I used to be able to read more books, get more done, finish more  on my to-do list, keep my house cleaner, manage more projects.

But that’s not this year, not this summer, not this season.

 

This summer has been teaching me more and more that it’s okay to let some things go.   We don’t have to do every good thing or every familiar thing.

I carried around guilt well into July this year about what I wasn’t doing.

We hadn’t picnicked out at our favorite playground yet.

I’m failing at this summer.

We’d barely made it through one audiobook.

I’m failing at this summer.

We did not run around the yard with an empty mason jar at twilight and catch  as many fireflies as possible, just to release them all at once before going to bed.

I’m failing at this summer.

 

I haven’t written a book, pitched a book, edited a book, or in any way spent one second thinking about a new book.

I’m failing at this summer.

Maybe this all looks differently for you.  Maybe our seasons are different and are expectations vary.

But maybe we can all identify with this feeling of just not doing enough or being enough or  being able to keep up with all our own ideas of perfect.

After all, does summer have to be “perfect?”  Maybe it just needs to be beautiful in its own unique and personal way.

Maybe any day can be beautiful without being perfect.

Does it matter to Jesus if I have the brownies for the concert?

Nope.

Is i t nice to have the brownies?  Sure!

Is it worth stressing over or beating myself up over  for not making brownies?

No.

What else can we let go of?

Are those projects another mom is doing great?

Sure!

Am I a failure as a mom if I don’t do  the same thing as her?

Not at all.

Oh–whisper that again to your soul:  You are not a failure for not doing every good thing you see around you.

You don’t  have to do it all all the time.

Don’t you just love that when Jesus fed the crowd with a few fish and loaves as they sat expectantly on a hillside,  He didn’t demand that the disciples come more prepared?

He didn’t demand that they provide the supply or that they be enough in themselves.

They offered him a little boy’s lunch and He did the rest.

Lisa Harper reminds us of this lesson:

“Just use what you have and do the best that you can”  (Lisa Harper, The Gospel  of Mark).

Tonight I have the brownies to take with us to the concert, but if I didn’t, that’d be fine, too.

I don’t need  to spend the whole evening feeling guilty for what I didn’t do.

I  can be oh so grateful and oh so joyful for the day Jesus gave me.

Catching Fireflies on a Summer’s Night

Originally posted July 6, 2012

For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:7

It’s what summer looks like to me.

Stepping out into the slightest hint of coolness in the final minutes of a hot summer’s day, we carry an empty Mason jar with a foil lid folded down over the edges of the glass.  The sun drifts down and the light dims so that we can see the fireflies at play.

Last night, I called them “lightning bugs” like we did as kids, and my daughter scrunched up her nose in confusion.

Lightning bugs.  Fireflies.  It’s the freedom of summer.  We stay up past bedtime and run around the yard swinging our arms and cupping our hands trying to catch one. firefliesfreedom

On TV, whenever you see a jar of fireflies, it’s lit up, a natural lantern for the evening jaunt.

But I haven’t seen this.  Last night as I watched the few captives in our jar, they remained dark.  They didn’t expend any energy for light.  Instead, their every effort remained focused on escape.  Most of them immediately scaled the jar and sat at the top, right up against the foil, just waiting for me to open the lid again so they could fly to freedom.

Usually, we manage to defeat their various tactics and keep them in the jar until the end of the night when one daughter whines because she didn’t catch one and another daughter begs to catch just one more.  Then they all ask if we can just keep them overnight or for an hour or just a few minutes.

Pleeeeease?   Pretty please?

But I’m sympathetic to the plight of our captives.  So, before we trudge inside we lift up the foil lid and let loose the fireflies.  They jump into the air and without hesitation light up—probably sending out a warning that predators are on the move.

Whatever their message, freedom helps them shine.

Their freedom comes at little cost to them really.  They’ve made attempts at escape, but most have failed.  Ultimately, their freedom flight simply requires me to lift the foil beneath my fingers.

Our freedom, however, is costly.  Physically, most of us receive the gift of freedom because of the sacrifice of others.  I read this week that Thornton Wilder, the famed American playwright and novelist, fought in both WWI and WWII.  People like him paid the price for people like us.

In the same way, our spiritual freedom carries a high price tag, one we could never pay.  Instead, we are the recipient of freedom because of another’s sacrifice.

Paul tells us:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Freedom is God’s design for us.  It has always been His intention and plan and Christ willingly paid the costly price on our behalf.

Jesus is a freedom-giver, a defeater of oppression and freer of captives.:  “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38 ESV).

But Paul charges us with a task, as well. Christ offered us freedom and now it is our job to “stand firm” and refuse to submit to slavery again.

It seems foolish and yet we often choose prison over the freedom Christ offers.  We sit in the bottom of our Mason jar, unwilling to fly and light up the night.  Perhaps we want to do it on our own, scale the glass, escape the lid.  Perhaps the night air is too frightening and the jar too comfortable because it’s what we know.

Do you do this?

If anxiety is your jail, do you rebuild the prison walls by wallowing in fear, allowing your mind to travel where it shouldn’t, looking up information that you know will disturb you, inciting emotions and then letting them run wild?

When the rigors of legalism and the chains of people-pleasing threaten to oppress you, do you submit–check the boxes, follow the crowd, follow expectations, try not to rock the boat, don’t do anything crazy or radical?

If shame holds you captive, do you allow Satan to throw your past in your face, to call you names, to cover your eyes so you can’t see the totally loved, totally forgiven person Christ has made you?

God never meant for you to live oppressed.

So, now that He’s offered you freedom . . . live free by living in truth (John 8:32).

Combat lies with the Word.
Feed on a diet of Scripture so that doubts and Satan’s schemes starve.
Be alert to the first sign of shackles and chains as Satan, the world, and even your old habits try to sneak them onto your wrists and feet.

Freedom is Christ’s gift to you, so refuse to accept captivity any longer.  He’s called you to shine and to fly and to share the message of sweet, sweet freedom with other prisoners.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Did Jesus Get Splinters?

“Mom, did Jesus get splinters from the cross?”

My daughter doesn’t really know how to whisper.  She somehow manages to make her voice breathy and full of air, but still push the words out with a great deal of volume.

I mentally apologized to the audience members in front of us and behind us, who had come that night to see the Ballet Magnificat dance in worship and to tell the Exodus story.

But then the dancers surprised us.  They fast-forwarded in time to our ultimate Deliverer, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself to give us freedom from slavery to sin.

There He was mocked and scorned by the crowd.
There He was beaten and nailed.
There He was hoisted onto the weathered wood and left to die.
There He cried out in pain.
There He died.

You never know what might make an impression on a child. I had already answered  whispered questions about slavery in Egypt earlier in the program.

Because, as many times as we had talked about the story and read the account in the children’s Bible . . . . and as often as my daughter had heard it in Sunday School and Children’s Church and Awana . . . somehow she had missed the part of slavery where it’s horrible and evil and frightening and relentless and hard and unfair and cruel.

So, the sound of the whip cracking and the way the slaves dropped to the ground in fatigue and despair shocked her.

You mean “slavery” is this?  It’s not just a happy little Jewish community living in tiny houses on the outskirts of Egyptian cities?

No, my baby girl.  Slavery is a pharaoh ordering that every male baby be killed at birth.  It’s waking up every morning to labor hard and long for someone else, no freedom to worship or rise above or choose for yourself or provide for your family.  It’s whips and rods and beatings and shame and being less than.

Why are the slaves working so hard, Mom?  Why is he beating them, Mom?  Why do they look so tired, Mom?

All whispered in my ear and what to say in that moment of hushed conversation other than, “That’s what slavery is, honey.  Didn’t you know?”

But how could she know?  We have a way as humans of protecting ourselves from knowledge that hurts.  And we have a way as parents and teachers of watering down the truth so we don’t frighten kids (or ourselves).  And we have a way as adults of sanitizing reality so we don’t have to face the ugly horror of it.

But when Jesus told the crowd that the truth would make them free, they didn’t understand: “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (John 8:34).

They had forgotten their people’s four-century-long history, of slavery in Egypt, and how God sent them the deliverer Moses.

Jesus reminded them: You, yourself, have a lifelong history of slavery to sin and “a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:35-36).

I explain this later to my daughters, when whispering is no longer mandatory, and we have the time and space to talk.

Did you see how terrible slavery was for the Israelites?  Jesus says we were slaves to sin in the same way.

And did you see what Moses had to give up in order to deliver the people out of Egypt?  He couldn’t keep his fancy room in the palace, his princely clothes, his royal position, his delectable foods.  He sacrificed all that to lead his people out of slavery.

But Jesus gave up more.  Paul tells us that Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

My daughter knew about the nails and the crown of thorns.  She knew about the cross.  But the scornful cries of the crowd, that she couldn’t understand.

Then, while watching the dancers portray Jesus’ crucifixion, she thought of the most horrible thing she could imagine, the thing that terrifies her into wearing shoes on our deck and the thing that has sent her into fits of screaming on our couch when we pull out the tweezers.

Did Jesus get splinters from the cross?

Why yes, baby girl, he probably did.  But he did it for you and for me.  He hung bare-skinned on a rough wooden cross so He could deliver us and set us free.

That’s the truth of costly grace and the Savior who paid the ultimate price: splinters, whips, mockery, the weight of sin, separation from God, and death and all.

How can you keep from forgetting what Christ has done for you?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Catching Fireflies on a Summer’s Night

For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:7

It’s what summer looks like to me.

Stepping out into the slightest hint of coolness in the final minutes of a hot summer’s day, we carry an empty Mason jar with a foil lid folded down over the edges of the glass.  The sun drifts down and the light dims so that we can see the fireflies at play.

Last night, I called them “lightning bugs” like we did as kids, and my daughter scrunched up her nose in confusion.

Lightning bugs.  Fireflies.  It’s the freedom of summer.  We stay up past bedtime and run around the yard swinging our arms and cupping our hands trying to catch one.  Unfortunately, I think we’ve scared off the fireflies in our particular area.  They hear us coming and taunt us by flying just a little too high and just a little too far into the woods.

Still, we manage to catch a few.  For those daughters who don’t succeed in the hunt, we gently ease a bug into their hand and they giggle because it tickles, of course.  Then we drop the firefly softly into the Mason jar and deftly replace the foil lid so none escape.

On TV, whenever you see a jar of fireflies, it’s lit up, a natural lantern for the evening jaunt.

But I haven’t seen this.  Last night as I watched the few captives in our jar, they remained dark.  They didn’t expend any energy for light.  Instead, their every effort remained focused on escape.  Most of them immediately scaled the jar and sat at the top, right up against the foil, just waiting for me to open the lid again so they could fly to freedom.

Usually, we manage to defeat their various tactics and keep them in the jar until the end of the night when one daughter whines because she didn’t catch one and another daughter begs to catch just one more.  Then they all ask if we can just keep them overnight or for an hour or just a few minutes.

Pleeeeease?   Pretty please?

But I’m sympathetic to the plight of our captives.  So, before we trudge inside we lift up the foil lid and let loose the fireflies.  They jump into the air and without hesitation light up—probably sending out a warning that predators are on the move.

Whatever their message, freedom helps them shine.

Their freedom comes at little cost to them really.  They’ve made attempts at escape, but most have failed.  Ultimately, their freedom flight simply requires me to lift the foil beneath my fingers.

Our freedom, however, is costly.  Physically, most of us receive the gift of freedom because of the sacrifice of others.  I read this week that Thornton Wilder, the famed American playwright and novelist, fought in both WWI and WWII.  People like him paid the price for people like us.

In the same way, our spiritual freedom carries a high price tag, one we could never pay.  Instead, we are the recipient of freedom because of another’s sacrifice.

Paul tells us:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Freedom is God’s design for us.  It has always been His intention and plan and Christ willingly paid the costly price on our behalf.

A girl in my online Bible study group reminded me of this verse:  “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38 ESV).

Jesus is a freedom-giver, a defeater of oppression and freer of captives.

But Paul charges us with a task, as well. Christ offered us freedom and now it is our job to “stand firm” and refuse to submit to slavery again.

It seems silly, but we often choose prison over the freedom Christ offers.  We sit in the bottom of our Mason jar, unwilling to fly and light up the night.  Perhaps we want to do it on our own, scale the glass, escape the lid.  Perhaps the night air is too frightening and the jar too comfortable because it’s what we know.

Do you do this?

If anxiety is your jail, do you rebuild the prison walls by wallowing in fear, allowing your mind to travel where it shouldn’t, looking up information that you know will disturb you, inciting emotions and then letting them run wild?

When the rigors of legalism and the chains of people-pleasing threaten to oppress you, do you submit–check the boxes, follow the crowd, follow expectations, try not to rock the boat, don’t do anything crazy or radical?

If shame holds you captive, do you allow Satan to throw your past in your face, to call you names, to cover your eyes so you can’t see the totally loved, totally forgiven person Christ has made you?

God never meant for you to live oppressed. 
So, now that He’s offered you freedom . . . live free by living in truth (John 8:32).

Combat lies with the Word.
Feed on a diet of Scripture so that doubts and Satan’s schemes starve.
Be alert to the first sign of shackles and chains as Satan, the world, and even your old habits try to sneak them onto your wrists and feet.

Freedom is Christ’s gift to you, so refuse to accept captivity any longer.  He’s called you to shine and to fly and to share the message of sweet, sweet freedom with other prisoners.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

VBS Lessons: No Matter What People Do

All week long I’m thinking about the Bible points for our Vacation Bible School and what they mean for adults.  This week will be a mix of some old and some new as I share these lessons.

Tonight at Sky VBS! (Group Publishing), we’re learning: No Matter What People Do…Trust God!

****************************************************************************

In high school, Carl didn’t score touchdowns like the sports star Norman.  Instead, Carl served as the sports manager for the team—close to the action, but never quite getting the glory.

One day in the locker room, Norman played a teenage prank on Carl and then they went their separate ways.  Norman played football and studied education in college, earning his master’s degree and returning to the high school to teach and coach for over 30 years.

Carl took a different path.  More than 50 years after that initial locker room prank, Carl showed up at Norman’s house and shot him with a pistol.  At 73 years old, Carl is now starting a life term in prison.

Not exactly the best way to spend your retirement years.

I read this new story last week and it troubled me in a deep-down unshakeable way.  It’s partly because the story dismisses that teenage prank.  Of course, it couldn’t possibly be worth killing someone over 50 years after the fact.  Of course it makes no sense to murder a 70-year old man for something he did in high school.

Yet, bullying, teasing, and publicly embarrassing others seem to be the signature traits of our society and they aren’t easily shrugged off, even by the strongest and most confident among us.  It’s a reminder to us all how how lives can be destroyed by what we say and do.

The story, though, also illustrates something else.  It shows how what people do to us usually determines our character far more than it impacts theirs.

Carl—the 73-year-old killer over a high school grudge—lived an embittered life, entangled in jealousy and unforgiveness.  Norman lived a full life that sounded successful and happy.

We have a similar choice when people intend evil for us.  Like Joseph staring across an Egyptian banqueting table at the brothers who sold him into slavery decades before, we must choose what to do with our offenders.

The Lord’s Prayer instructs us clearly: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

If you look at most modern translations of this passage, they read something like: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 HCSB).

That’s because we perceive wrongs against us as a debt that someone needs to pay.  Someone owe us because they took something from us–our innocence, our purity, our dignity, our job, our financial security, our husband, our self-esteem . ..

Pretty soon we’re wrapped up in unforgiveness and anger so tight that our whole life is hindered.  We’re tripping all over ourselves when we try to get anywhere.

In his book, Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley reminds us that the only way to break free from the snare of anger and unforgiveness is to cancel the debt.

We need to forgive.  Why?  Because we’ve been forgiven.

Stanley writes:

In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy.  But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another (129).

Jesus Himself, tortured and crucified by a jeering mob when he had done nothing at all to deserve it, still looked down from the cross and prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

In “You Want Me To Pray What?” I wrote:

“In the same way, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” just as the final stones pelted his body and killed him (Acts 7:59).

Have you considered who Stephen was praying for in that moment?  One of the men standing by the coat rack cheering on the crowd was Saul—later the apostle Paul.

Stephen asked for God to forgive his persecutors and shortly afterward this same Saul sat on a roadside blinded by Jesus Christ himself, experiencing repentance and conversion.

Satan fully intends to tangle us up in bitterness and jealousy.  He wants to defeat our ministry and make us thoroughly unusable because we’re so riled up and distracted by dissension and arguments.

He just doesn’t know what to do when we pray shockingly humble prayers on behalf of others, particularly our enemies.  There’s power there.”

No matter what people do to us, we can trust God to use it for His glory and to help us through.  More than that, we can ask him to help us forgive so we can move forward in freedom and blessing, no longer hindered by the bitter entanglements of our past.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Remembering: Free to Dance

Free to Dance
Originally posted 09/19/2011

“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).

My mom will still tell you I was the best little four-year-old ballerina in my class.  I knew every step in our recital routine perfectly.

Performance night arrived and I was decked out in my ballet outfit and felt super fancy with my parasol.

Stepping onto the stage, I glanced to my left and realized my teacher stood in the wings.  She mouthed the words, “Watch me” as our music began.

So, I watched her.  She stepped.  I stepped.  She twirled.  I twirled  She lifted her pretend parasol up.  I lifted up my prop, as well.

I thought it was odd that she was also frantically shaking her head no and making strange motions with her hands in between each move. Then I noticed that all the other girls were one step behind me and the teacher, and I was mortified on their behalf.

They were all doing it wrong! An entire stage full of tiny ballerinas, and I was the only one doing the routine correctly!  Could they not see the teacher shaking her head at them and telling them what to do?

Determined to obey the instructor, I dogmatically refused to match my steps to the other girls in my class.  After all, who was most likely to be right—the teacher or a dozen four-year-old girls?

What I didn’t realize was that the teacher had been one step ahead of the routine the whole time.  She was showing us the move that was coming next, not the step we were actually on.  So I, in all my stubbornness, had been one step ahead of the actual routine for the entire performance.

That, my friends, was the end of my very promising ballet career.

On the other hand, I’ve spent years of my life worrying about what the audience thinks of me and fearing what will happen if I make a mistake and mis-step.  Not that my ballet fiasco is to blame for that, but it’s there nonetheless.

It’s the very real straightjacket of people-pleasing.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes, “Jesus provides freedom, regardless of what’s been cramping our stories” (p. 19).

I don’t know what restricts you or binds you or has you so tied up that you miss out on the glorious freedom that Christ brings, but worrying about what other people think of me—well, that’s been my personal prison for a long time.

And even those of you who boldly announce all the time that, “I don’t care what other people think of me,” may deep down in the depths of your tender soul do just that.  Maybe you desperately care about what other people think after all.

You want them to have a high opinion of you.  You want them to agree that the choices you’ve made as a woman, as a wife, as a mom are the right ones.  You want people to see you’re an awesome mom and you’re a great wife.  You want them to be blind to your mistakes. You want them to buy into the persona you’ve created for yourself—that you’ve got it all together, that you’re smart, strong, capable, and surely superwoman in the flesh.

And our great fear, the thing that just rips us to pieces—is what happens if people realize we are . . . . not perfect.

And the thought that even when we’re doing the right thing or doing our best, some people won’t approve . .  that’s devastating.

In Genesis 29, we read about a precious woman who longed with all her being to be good enough and to perform well enough to earn her husband’s love.

There wasn’t ever any doubt about it.  Jacob’s “love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah” (Genesis 29:30).

My heart just breaks for the unloved Leah.  So did God’s.  “When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive” (Genesis 29:31) and in quick succession, she gives birth to three sons: Reuben, Simeon and Levi.

When each son was born, Leah revealed what was in her heart:

  • “Surely my husband will love me now” (verse 32)
  • “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (verse 33)
  • “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (verse 34)

She was buying her husband’s affection with babies.  More particularly, the male sons that a man in Jacob’s time and culture prided himself on.  Rachel may have been loved, but she remained barren for many years while Leah delivered son after son.

Still, Leah never once was able to perform well enough to earn Jacob’s love.

Eventually something clicked in Leah’s heart.  After having four sons for a man who still didn’t love her, she finally declared at the birth of her fourth baby, “‘This time I will praise the LORD.‘ So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children” (Genesis 29:35).

For one brief moment in her life, Leah threw off the crippling chains of trying to please a human being and flung her unhindered arms open wide in worship of God.

Because God cared for her immensely and unconditionally.  God thought she was beautiful.  God thought she was worthy of notice.  God lavished on her the gift of four healthy sons. 

And that, for the moment, was enough.

Is it enough for you to know that God loves you?  Is it enough to know that you are obeying His instructions?

We people-pleasers can’t often escape from the binding fear of what others think about us in one magical moment.  No, it’s a battle.  It’s an active choice we make over and over to make pleasing God our supreme life passion rather than allowing the expectations of others to bind us hand and foot.

Paul wrote, “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).

Christ offers you freedom.  Glorious freedom.  So, stand firm in that.  Stand confidently assured of your calling.  Dance to the song He has given you and perform only for Him.

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I’m excited to share with you one of my most favorite songs on the freedom that Christ brings.  I hope you are blessed by it.

Hear the song here: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JM2C1MNU

Free by Ginny Owens

Turnin’ molehills into mountains,
Makin’ big deals out of small ones,
Bearing gifts as if they’re burdens,
This is how it’s been.
Fear of coming out of my shell,
Too many things I can’t do too well,
afraid I’ll try real hard, and I’ll fail–
This is how it’s been.
Till the day You pounded on my heart’s door,
And You shouted joyfully,
“You’re not a slave anymore!”

“You’re free to dance-
Forget about your two left feet
And you’re free to sing-even joyful noise is music to Me
You’re free to love,
‘Cause I’ve given you My love
and it’s made you free

My mind finds hard to believe
That You became humanity and changed the course of history,
Because You loved me so.
And my heart cannot understand
Why You’d accept me as I am,
But You say You’ve always had a plan,
And that’s all I need to know.
So when I am consumed by what the world will say,
it’s Then You’re singing to me, as You remove my chains-

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King