DELIVERANCE FOR ALL
It’s humbling to watch God link pieces of my life story together at unexpected times &, in surprising ways. In truth, our lives are much like diligently assembling a large puzzle, a little here… a little there…identifying colors, shapes & borders. Initially, it doesn’t make much sense in that it rarely looks like the finished picture on the box cover. However, over time, as more & more sections are connected, you see the completed whole more clearly in your mind’s eye.
Presently, I have a 1000-piece puzzle under my bed. Because of its size, that’s the only place I could think of storing it for protection until framing. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours went into the building of my teapot creation, a Mother’s Day gift a few years ago. If memory serves me correctly, a total of 7 people dabbled in its assembly over the past 2 years. We sorted matching patterns & colors in Ziploc bags. Even so, each teapot section took hours & hours. Because even though distinctly unique, the teapots also had a lot of similarities not initially seen in the individual pieces. The cooperative effort made the discovery process more fun, & we’d often raise our hands while exclaiming, “I got it!” Working together made the beauty of the finished product even more satisfying! Hm-m, sounds a little like working with people. 😊
While cleaning up a messy sorting job at my desk a few weeks ago, I uncovered something I wrote some 10+ years back. The funny thing is, it was applicable to the day I was in. Some things don’t change, like facing your fears. I’d seen a then popular Christian movie & I wrote, “It’s been one of those seasons when you know God is digging so deep in your soul that the pain almost takes your breath away. Under the scrutiny of His perfect love, He has faithfully continued to unearth the spiritual weeds & rocks of doubt and fear that have, for too long, hindered the expression of His life through me…fear has many faces for all of us. Most of the time, we continue running instead of stopping, turning, & looking at what’s going on inside of us. When we don’t understand it, we stuff it under an emotional rock. The lie we believe is that, what we can’t see doesn’t affect other people or our relationship with Christ…this kind of thinking will paralyze you from the inside out.” Our external circumstances change repeatedly throughout our lives, but our fears will always be something to be reckoned with, lest we find ourselves in emotional bondage. God’s faithfulness & Truth have always stood the test of time. And that’s a fact!
Later that same week, while putting away laundry in my bedroom, I happened to glance at the statuette of a praying woman on top of my dresser. It’s nothing new & I see it daily. But this time, I felt lead to stop & reread the verse engraved on it. (Psalm 34:4) Then I grabbed my Bible to read the chapter in its entirety. Here was yet another puzzle piece, linking 2 seasons of life & reinforcing the same lessons in different circumstances.
In my Bible, the heading for Psalm 34 is “The Lord a Provider & Deliverer,” a perfect message for me that day. There’s a variety of encouragements to be gleaned from that passage but God’s message for me, specifically, was regarding His all-encompassing power. “I sought the Lord, & He answered me, & delivered me from ALL my fears(vs4)…this poor man cried & the Lord heard him, & saved him from ALL his troubles(vs6)…O fear the Lord, you His saints, for to those who fear Him, there is no want.(vs9) COME…LISTEN…I WILL TEACH YOU the fear of the Lord(vs11)…The righteous cry & the Lord hears, & delivers them out of ALL their troubles(vs17)…Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them ALL(vs19)…the Lord redeems the soul of His servants; & none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
Let’s do a recap here. ALL fears, ALL troubles, ALL afflictions. No want & no condemnation. Now that’s a lot of ALL! Nothing is left out. What do you struggle with that doesn’t qualify as fears, troubles or afflictions? Near as I can see, concerns in all 7 areas of life fit into one, or more, of those 3 ALL categories…marriage, parenting, financial, psychological, physical, spiritual & social. We’re bombarded with lies by our culture, our own flesh & by the enemy of our souls. In a nutshell, the message we fight is that we don’t measure up. We aren’t enough…for anything or anybody. Fears, troubles & afflictions don’t play favorites. They don’t regard race, riches, or rank. Everyone deals with some form of perceived inequality, daily, if we’re honest.
I couldn’t help but think of the Pledge of Allegiance, particularly the phrase “with liberty & justice for all.” Fighting for perceived rights is ultimately what every conflict is about, in any area of life. It’s what we fight for in an argument. It’s the foundation of the social justice movement. But ironically, in ALL these situations, we end up primarily concerned with our personal liberty & justice, at the expense of someone else’s. Humanly speaking, we don’t have what it takes to resolve the ALLs in our lives because we’re born needy people. And as noble as everyone’s intentions may be, we can’t save ourselves from ourselves. Our best human efforts will always come up short.
The good news is-- there is a Perfect Mediator who IS ENOUGH. “For there is one God & one mediator also between God & men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for ALL…” (I Tim 2:5 & 6a) Only Jesus Christ can DELIVER US ALL-- from ALL of our fears, from ALL of our troubles & from ALL of our afflictions. Our Creator isn’t prejudice. He doesn’t accept bribes to include, or exclude, certain groups. However, He is uncompromising in His provisional Way, Truth & Life to salvation. There is only ONE who offers deliverance for all. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, & broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, & might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:13-16)
The answer to division in relationships is changed hearts. Lasting change is from the inside out & that’s where your own personal deliverance begins. Then, the internal change births new attitudes & actions toward others. The key is being honest about yourself before analyzing someone else who you think is to blame. The first puzzle piece is admitting that you have a need. The Bible calls that repentance…something God leads you to in His kindness, & something you shouldn’t consider flippantly. (Romans 2:4) Your crisis point will be when you decide if you’re willing to accept God’s Way, God’s Truth, & the Only Life—bundled up in the person of Jesus Christ. He is your peace. He can take the smatterings of a life obliterated by fear, trouble & affliction, & reconfigure the pieces into a new, beautifully transformed puzzle. He is YOUR peace. And your heart is His starting place.