I've been leading a women's recovery group over the past month or so and it's always shocking to me, to a certain extent, when I come back to the foundational truths about how God really works when it comes to breakthrough and freedom. I'm just being honest. Yes, I'm a Christian. Yes, I'm a pastor, teacher and preacher of the Word of God. But, for me, sometimes it takes being face to face with my own struggles and those of others whom I love to really focus squarely on the truth of who God is and what He said he would do in these types of situations.
Whenever I begin to dialog with people about getting free, the topics of forgiveness and repentance come up. This is because these are two tools that Jesus spoke about using when we find ourselves bound in some way. There's no way around it. Whether you've found yourself to be a victim or perpetrator of abuse, addiction, compulsion or manipulation, the road to freedom will always be through the towns of forgiveness and repentance. Forgiveness releases and repentance restores. We need release and restoration if we're going to get to freedom.
But I've found that once you forgive and repent and continue along your road to freedom, you may still find other roadblocks along the way. The biggest one I've run into shouts this message: “You've done everything you can do on your end, but that doesn't mean the other person in this equation is going to do their part. Are you willing to do ALL the work for the rest of your life? Because you just might have to.” I've come to call this roadblock “The Heckler.”
The Heckler tries to convince you to stop believing this situation could ever work out in your favor because there are other people involved in your world and you cannot control them. The Heckler can cause you to stop right in the middle of your road, throw up your hands to heaven and ask, “What now, God?” But there's something particularly damaging that The Heckler can do, and that's really what I wanted to write about.
The Heckler tries to convince us that our faith and our declaration aren't working. And that, my friends, is the devil in the details. That's where the enemy rears his head. When we cannot control every piece of the equation, human or otherwise, we'll begin to doubt whether God's promises could possibly come to pass. All because we cannot control the other parties involved.
Which is somewhat funny if you step back and think about it. We don't have as much control in this world as we think. We stick to this planet by the grace of God (literally by the power of His Word, if you believe the Bible). We breathe every morning because He breathed into us first and that breath continued through time because of the way He created our bodies to work. We've learned to find solace in the patterns of life. And we've taken statistics and trends as comfort that what we hope for will actually come to pass. But that's not really control.
God says His Word will never fail. It never returns void and it always prospers wherever it goes (Isaiah 55:11). The Bible tells us that when the Word of the Lord is declared, God sends angels to perform it (Psalm 103:20). And it also says the Lord is always perfecting that which concerns me (Psalm 138:8). In these truths are found the real keys to control: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Perfect human control is not an option. We're not designed to control everything. But God is Control. And our best bet in finding predictability, safety and security is in Him. When we trust Him, believe Him, agree with Him, and declare what He says, we will find life coming into order.
So when the other people in my life have clearly not gotten the memo on what's supposed to be happening in a particular situation and/or what they are supposed to be doing, I resist things like manipulation, anger, passive aggressiveness, and emotional gymnastics. Instead I remember what belief and declaration can do. I remember that when I apply faith to the promises of God, it's only a matter of time before I will see them come to fruition in the land of the living (Hebrews 6:12, Psalm 27:13). I remember that when I declare truth over a situation and/or a person, I'm releasing the armies of heaven to work on my behalf (Psalm 103:20) to perfect this thing which concerns me (Psalm 138:8). I stand steadfast in the truth that God's ways work and I won't retreat back to coping mechanisms in fear. I WILL trust God!
Oh, and here's something you should know going in . . . this isn't an overnight fix. See, rage and manipulation are popular because they create immediate results. We stir up fear in the other party and they move immediately. But we haven't actually effected a heart change in them. We've just pressed their fear button. So we're simply perpetuating a cycle that we're going to have to repeat at some point in the near future. There's no true freedom in that.
But when we begin to declare the truth of God over a situation or a person and when we add our faith behind it — that God will actually do what He says He can and will do — over time we will see the manifestation of His Word. That's a guarantee. So the question is this: How long are you willing to be obedient to His Word? How long will you allow the Lord of your life to direct your paths? I've learned to answer this way: Until I see His goodness in the land of the living. No less than that.