The other day I was reading in the book of Zechariah, chapter 9, in a passage where the Lord declares judgement on the enemies of Israel. As I was reading, these words that God spoke concerning His people Israel jumped off the page:
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you…The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. (Zechariah 9:11-12, 16)
This season has been all about transition for me, the in-between, not where I was, but not yet where I want to be. I have definitely begun to see God moving in several areas of my life where previously I had not seen much fruit. Suddenly, I have been seeing prayers answered and things begin to move in a positive direction. God is taking me by the hand and step by step I am walking forward into what He has called me to. But I have not yet reached, where I am heading.
For a long time, I buried my dreams, because of woundedness, discouragement and disappointment. Recently, I took my dreams off the shelf and began standing in the place of faith and belief once more. When I did that, things started to move. I have noticed though that in this time of transition and in this period of in-between, the invitation to fear is always there. I’ll admit that I have fallen victim to fear several times in the midst of this process. In fact, it seems that the closer I get to where I am heading, fear speaks louder. What does it sound like? It whispers all the old familiar lies. It throws my past up in my face and tells me, “Things will never be different. You will always be disappointed.” It tells me, “Don’t get your hopes up. This is bound to fail.” It tells me, “You have to be crazy to take the risks that your taking, you are only going to fall.” Entertaining these thoughts is a slippery slope. It will skew your perception of your circumstances and lead you away from confident trust in Father God. It will cause you to forget that our Father is a good Father, who gives good gifts to His children, who loves us with an everlasting love and promises to get us to the finish line of the work that He has already begun in our lives.
It is so easy to be a prisoner of fear. I would rather be a prisoner of hope, like the passage in Zechariah describes. I want to be bound and shackled to hope, unable to escape from hope. I want hope to be the pervasive theme of my thoughts that I can’t get rid of. I want to hear echoes of hope resounding in my mind. I want to train my mind to see glimmers of hope in all my circumstances, even the most scary ones. I want to feel hope surging up in my heart as I consistently reflect on the goodness of my Father. I want to hope against all odds. Grounded in hope, I want to be able to take huge leaps of faith, to love people without restraint and to believe without the threat of failure or disappointment.
It’s time to return to our fortress…I often hide behind walls that I have built up to protect my own heart. Over the years, the enemy has helped me to build up these walls brick by brick, layer by layer. Together we have built these walls on the foundation of his deceptions and the lies that he has spoken over me. He has whispered in my ear, “Hide behind this wall and you’ll be safe. Safe from being hurt and safe from failure. Step outside this wall and you’ll be crushed.” We have all built these walls before and one thing that I have learned is that while walls may keep you safe, they also keep you from experiencing the thrill of adventure. They keep you from experiencing life to its fullest, love without reservation and the joy of surprises. They keep you from growing and moving forward. The walls become a prison. They aren’t a fortress they are a prison.
According to google’s definition, a fortress is a heavily protected or impentrable building; a person or thing not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance. This is what God promises to be to us. When we cling to Him, though the storms may rage, we will not be shaken. We are under his protection. We are safe from outside influence and disturbance. Circumstances may fail, but He never fails us. Things may fall apart, but we never will, when we find refuge under His wings. If we are too afraid to try, we will never realize how instead of falling apart, things just might come together. But one way or another, God promises to never leave us alone in the process. People come and go, but He is glued to our side. We can be safe in that and reassured in that. We can hide in Him.
When we choose to let down our walls and instead run to our fortress, Father God, the heavy weights and burdens we are carrying can fall by his feet. We can experience freedom. And freedom looks beautiful on you. I want to be one that sparkles and shines like a jewel in a crown as I experience the freedom that comes with giving up control and putting all my trust in God. I want to smile and laugh and embrace the blessings of each day, as I surrender it all to papa. I’m in good hands.