Do you have a favorite verse? One of the very first bible verses that felt like a promise, that felt like mine, was Isaiah 49:9,
“I will say to the prisoners ‘come out in freedom’ and to those in darkness, ‘come into the light.'”
It hit home for me, because it was exactly what happened during the year of my metamorphosis. When I went from a watered down Christian, to an all in follower of Christ, it was truly like stepping out of a jail cell and experiencing fresh air for the first time.
Listen, I literally watched and re-watched a video of dogs who had been in a science lab, being rescued and released to experience grass and the outdoors for the first time in their lives…and I bawled like a baby. Granted, I was eight months pregnant and super hormonal at the time, but it was as devastatingly beautiful as anything could be.
Kind of like when you realize the damaged goods you always believed yourself to be was only a label given to you by the same world you strive to impress…and suddenly…you just don’t want to impress the world anymore.
I went from knowing of Jesus to knowing Jesus.
And from the moment that I experienced that life giving transformation, I knew I had to tell as many people as would listen, that they were being pursued by Him as well. Here we are, peering at the good life behind the bars of fear, doubt, uncertainty, and low self-esteem. We think we know what grass is greener but yet, we can never really reach out and touch it. We see all sorts of shiny, sparkly things that hold our attention but none of them ever come to light up the darkened corners of our prison.
Want to know the saddest part about this scenario? The door to our prison cell? It’s already been opened. When Jesus came and died for our sins, he unlocked every gate, swung it wide open, and waited for those who would, to venture out and join him in freedom.
To experience what real grass felt like for the first time.
But still, we sit, turning the other way, unhappy with the door, longing for the grass just outside of the window we can’t quite fit through, wishing we could just somehow feel it.
I’ve wrestled with doubt. I won’t pretend that I haven’t. I won’t shy away from the glaring reality that I am a product of my generation and that there are times when I have wanted to just stop caring, to return to the easy way of living, to pretend that none of it mattered, and to self-soothe with instant gratification type resources.
But, oh my gosh, I can’t escape the fact that my life has improved in drastic ways since I began living fully alive! If it weren’t true, if it didn’t feel better, then trust me: I WOULD HAVE TURNED BACK BY NOW.
Because why wouldn’t I?
Living for Jesus is unpopular, and popular is what I used to live for.
Loving Jesus is uncool, and being cool is what I used to love.
Talking about Jesus is against social norms, and fitting in is what I used to talk about.
Writing about Jesus is success taboo, and success is what I used to write for.
I wasn’t raised in the church. I didn’t learn all that I know now, way back when. I didn’t ever read the bible or study the word until I was twenty nine years old going on broken down forever.
I have lived both ways, I have enjoyed both lives, and I have to tell you… Jesus life is hard.
But that just proves my point. Because, honestly, why would anyone choose the harder road if there weren’t unimaginable rewards involved… rewards that cannot be accessed by any other path?
So what rewards am I talking about? Money? Status? A bigger house? A newer car? Vacations lined up to make everyone on my Facebook page green with envy?
The problem is, we falsely believe those who have more things have a better life. But here’s the truth: In my world, in my Jesus centered world, I have peace. I have comfort. I have resolve to fix what is broken and the strength to see it through. I have a sense of dependability. I have a Well that never runs dry. I have undeniable truth to govern the way I raise my baby girl and to cover her with impenetrable armor. I have answers when she has questions. I have values when the world has shaky ideas at best. I have reassurance that death is just a stepping stone to the better life. I have trust that I don’t actually have to do anything in my own power. I have unconditional love and acceptance despite all that I’ve done and all that I will do. I have hope.
What’s better than a shiny car or a fancy house? Hope.
Why do so many of us settle for what we can see? Why are we so content to sit on our bare beds, looking out of the securely fastened window, longing for more, continuously striving to get to everything the world says is desirable, when we could just turn around and accept the gift that’s waiting for us outside the four walls we’ve become comfortable in?
Let me put it another way, friend: we can see all of the goods our culture is dangling in front of us through the bars. But when we turn towards the door, towards Jesus, his light is so bright, so blinding, we can’t actually yet see, or know, what it is he’s offering us.
So one way, everything… literally the only things… that can be given to us are clearly labeled and easy to see. But we never quite have enough of them, do we? And they never quite satisfy for long, do they?
And the other way, well, the other way requires you to be so tired of dreaming about why you can’t have more from the one side, that you take that step into the light on the other side.
Some of those released puppies bounded out of their cage in excitement and sheer joy, they couldn’t get out fast enough or roll around long enough, reveling in every moment of freedom. But some of them? Some of them hesitated. Some put one paw out and retracted it, because the grass felt too weird, too different, too unlike anything they’d ever felt before. Some of the puppies huddled in the back of their kennel, too wary of what they’d never known to even try to understand it.
The video didn’t play long enough for me to find out what ever happened to the ones who waited. But if those lingering puppies are you, well, your video is still rolling, sister.
It’s time to move towards the door.
What’s holding you back from the all-in life?