Breaking Free

by Doris Hoover

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.  Psalm 118:5 NIV

Specks of color flutter across my field of vision, flitting from flower to flower, to tree and back. I glimpse masterful designs painted on tiny wings – mosaics, stripes, and polka dots. Beautiful winged creatures sail in the breeze, free and unfettered.

In contrast, their earthbound larvae creep along the ground or on tree trunks, caterpillars awaiting the day they’ll morph into spectacular butterflies. Caterpillars and butterflies may be the same creatures, but they live two very different lives.

I wonder if God created caterpillars to demonstrate the power he has to change lives. Metamorphosis isn’t just for butterflies — it’s for people, too. Through God’s power, we can be released from the bonds that keep us earthbound, the fleshly attitudes which impede our ability to fly.

The Lord can change the lives of broken, defeated people, those chained to addictions or childhood traumas, those shackled with the weight of bitter memories. Minds encased with wrong thinking can crack open like a cocoon, freeing us to think and live in a new way.

When circumstances knocked me to the ground, I wasted years groveling in the debris of bitterness, unable to rise above the resentment that kept me in the muck. “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me” (Psalm 118:13 NIV). Jesus showed me how to rise above the sinful attitudes that kept me earthbound. He showed me the way of forgiveness.

It wasn’t easy to change the way my mind thought or the way my heart felt. The change could only happen through His Holy Spirit in me. The Lord opened my eyes to see that I was living a caterpillar life by crawling in the dirt of resentment. He showed me the truth about bitterness, that holding on to bitterness will keep me from fully living out God’s abundant grace for me (Hebrews 12:15). Through my bitter attitude, I was willingly shackling myself to the earth.

The Lord brought me to a point where I had to make a decision. I could continue to be miserable and creep in the dirt of resentment, or I could release my bitter memories and forgive the one who hurt me.

Just as a butterfly has to fight its way out of a cocoon, I had to fight my way out of bitterness. It took much prayer, confession, and repentance before my heart changed. It took God’s power working in me. “The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” (Psalm 118:16 NIV) When I chose to forgive, my cocoon cracked open and now could fly above my resentments. I was free!

The Lord wants each of us to fly. He didn’t create us to crawl through life, miserably dragged down by weights we don’t need to carry. We’re meant to live as butterflies, to be creatures of beauty, offering loveliness to the world.

We can leave our caterpillar existence. The Lord sees our hurts and wants us to break free from the bonds of our wrong thinking. He has power to heal the most aggrieved heart. By teaching us how to forgive, He shows us how to rise above what plagues us.

God envelopes us with his Spirit, encasing us in his power as he works in our hearts. The moment we choose forgiveness over bitterness, the Lord molds us into something new and beautiful. We break free from our cocoons as changed individuals with beautifully painted wings. Then He releases us from the palm of his hand, and we soar.

Thank you, Jesus, for the miracle of forgiveness that sets us free.

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Breaking Free – insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Have you struggled to forgive a hurt from the past? How did the Lord enable you to forgive? Please share your story!

Set Free

by Tammy Kennington

I didn’t know her, but the vulnerable thoughts she’d written pierced my heart: “I realized where I was stuck. I was stuck in jealousy–wanting the childhood she had. Wanting. Wishing. But, not having.”

She spoke of jealousy, but I heard something different in her words. Grief. Yearning. Broken-hearted longing. If I had to guess? This woman, like so many, grew up in dysfunction.

She may have been raised in a home with an empty pantry and only harsh, angry words to nourish a girl’s hungry soul. Hers may have been the home other children politely refused to visit because they’d heard the shouting and cursing seeping from the walls in the dark of the night. Or, she might have been the child shivering beneath the covers because the heating bill had been neglected in favor of another bottle of her stepfather’s favorite whiskey.

If that is part of your story? I. Am. Sorry. Something is terribly broken in a world where children grow up with hungry stomachs and hungrier hearts.

You can do something different, dear one.

And if we are honest, we all might admit the truth… even the best families are dysfunctional in one way or another. While not everyone experienced a childhood without a father or cleaned up after an addicted parent, we all know this one thing.

Our. Parents. Were. Not. Perfect.

And, of course, neither are we.

So how can dysfunctional, messed-up people break the chains of familial bondage? Is it even possible to rid ourselves of unwanted habits that have hitched a ride from one generation to the next?

Yes, but not our own power. Instead, we can turn to the one who is All-Powerful.

“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…” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)

But to begin moving in that direction? We need to recognize the hurts and habits that have moved into our marriages and families uninvited. Call them out. Denounce their destructiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into the walls of our homes and hearts.

Unabated sarcasm? Angry outbursts? Shutting down? Shutting out? Whatever the sin. Name it, friend, and He will begin to unfasten the chains.

Invite His correction. Accept His instruction. Trust His direction.

There isn’t a stronghold that can stand when we invite the Helper into our sin-created, self-mandated cage. The walls of resistance are shaken, doors burst open and we step into the light of freedom the moment we acknowledge our weakness.

There may be times we wander back into the dark den that once held us captive, but we don’t belong there. Remember, the day we trusted Jesus we were set free from bondage. The door stands open. Let’s trust Him enough to step across the threshold.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1 NASB

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them.

The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications. When she isn’t writing, Tammy is likely discovering unmatched socks and candy wrappers tucked beneath the cushions of the couch or drinking a cup of Calming Chamomile tea as her children configure a boxing ring in the front yard with traffic cones and twine.

Join the conversation: From what strongholds has God released you?

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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