Devotional: Jesus Unlocks the Chains
One thing I’m excited to start sharing here on the blog is a weekly devotional. God has walked with me through a lot of stuff this summer, and really over the last few years, and I’d love to start sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned. These are deeply personal stories, but I hope they encourage you in your walk with the Lord. And obviously this is new for me, so bear with me as I figure out the best way to do this. This first one is a longer devotional because I have a story to share, but they will typically be short and sweet.
Jesus Unlocks the Chains
Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we’re constantly circling around the same mountains. The same struggles. The same issues. That’s how I felt this summer. I was burnt out, tired, and just in a low place which seemed to be following me for a good chunk of the year. Nothing particularly bad was happening in my life, in fact things were great. The kids were great, everyone was healthy, life was good. But personally I was struggling. I was so burnt out with work, unmotivated, and just feeling blah to put it nicely. May and June were the worst. I found myself dealing with a lot of anxiety, racing thoughts, constantly imagining worst case scenarios, etc. I’ve struggled with anxiety before, but this was different. This time it felt more intense. To be completely honest, I felt like my mind was under a very real attack from the enemy. So I went to battle–I started spending more time with Jesus in prayer, more time in the word, more time listening to worship music, etc. I was listening to sermons constantly, meditating, reading books on faith, and I even started writing my favorite Bible verses on little notecards that I carried with me everywhere. I did everything I could to break the stronghold the enemy seemed to have on my mind.
Slowly, things started to improve. Little by little I started to feel better. By July, I was having more good days, but there were still plenty of hard days in the mix. And I got frustrated with that up and down momentum, asking God why he couldn’t just make everything better, calm my mind, and silence the lies of the enemy.
Then on July 30th, I had a moment with God that I’ll never forgot. He spoke to my heart in a way that was truly life changing.
I woke up early that morning, feeling heavy and dealing with some of the same emotions I’d been feeling for months. I grabbed my Bible and started to read, but after a few moments of that I still felt unsettled. Anxious. Frustrated. Disappointed in myself with my continued struggle. Reading the Bible always calms my soul, but that morning it just wasn’t hitting me like usual. So I got up and went for a walk. I started listening to a Charles Stanley sermon, which is another one of my favorite ways to settle my mind and spirit. But again, that wasn’t helping. Finally, I pulled out my earbuds and started walking in silence. Then I began praying, talking to God and confessing to Him all of my frustrations, anxieties, and scariest fears. I poured my heart out to God, just like I had done many times over the summer already, but this time there was a deeper sense of desperation. I confessed that I *know* I should trust Him fully with my future, with my family, with my kids, with myself, but I continue to feel fear over so many things. Why can’t I fully surrender? Why can’t I live in peace? Why do I continue to hear the lies of the enemy? I spent several minutes pouring out my deepest fears to God. Most of those things I’ll keep between Him and I, but you better believe I was crying. I can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking as they saw me walking down our dirt road that morning.
After pouring out my soul, I asked God to speak to me. To silence the voice of the enemy in my mind and any other distractions so I could clearly hear JESUS. I asked, “what do you want me to know? what do you want to say to me, God?” and in that moment, all of a sudden, I could see myself standing with chains around my feet and ankles. I was chained up, like a prisoner, and tied to the enemy. The enemy was standing behind me, laughing, happy and fully pleased with himself. And I looked scared standing there in front of him–worried, afraid, and defeated. Then I could see a crowd standing around me and my family was there–Matt, as well as my mom and dad. But they could do nothing to help me. Not even Matt, who has been my protector since I was 15, was able to save me. And then I could see Jesus. He was walking through the crowd like a strong, fearless warrior. He walked right up to me and took my face in His hands. He said, “Sarah, it’s ok. You are safe with me.” Then he took out a key and unlocked the chains around my feet and ankles. I could sense the heavy weight of those chains as they fell to the ground. As this was happening, the enemy was cowering in fear with absolutely no power to do anything. Finally, Jesus picked me up and cradled me in His arms like a child is carried by a protective father. Then He walked away with me in His arms and I sensed Him say, “I will carry you, you are safe with me.”
By this time the tears were flowing uncontrollaby and I was shaking. I’ve sensed God speak to my spirit over the years, but never anything quite like this experience. It was so real and so powerful. What an incredible moment and such a gift! Not only did Jesus save me from the enemy, but He carried me and assured me of my safety. It was absolutely beautiful.
I went home and immediately wrote down everything I saw in that prayer. That was a very real, personal breakthrough moment for me. And since then, I have felt so much peace and assurance in Jesus. Now any time those lies and fears from the enemy try to come back into my mind, I remind satan that my Jesus unlocked the chains, I am no longer his prisoner. I belong to Jesus and I am set free.
Sharing a deeply personal story like this isn’t easy, but I feel strongly that God spoke to me that day to set me free from the chains of the enemy. And he sets you free too.
In this life, we all carry our own chains and burdens. Whatever it may be, we all go through hard times. And the enemy, the father of lies, wants to bring us down to his pit of despair. Satan delights in having us as his prisoner. He loves when we believe his lies in exchange for our true identity in Christ. But we don’t have to live that way. We don’t have to live with those chains because Jesus sets us free. Only Jesus has the power to do that for us. And He will never leave us alone. He will never abandon us. He will always save us and He will carry us through life, no matter what comes.
I hope you find encouragement in this story to trust Jesus with your whole life, your burdens, your worries and fears. He is our protector, our provider, and our refuge. You are always safe with Him.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you.” Exodus 14:13