Today as I celebrate four years of freedom, I have come to realize, finally, what I, my family and my friends were really warring with. God started me on a road that I simply could not look back on four years ago over three days. As I lay in bed this morning and visited with God we were reflecting on the past four years and how far He has stretched me and released me from the religious spirit. Because He has done this work and the change is within my core it is easy for me to spot religiousity in someone. At times it has been easy and painful to spot it in myself yet that is and was part of the process. When I wrote four years ago:
“The essence of what you wrote is that church leadership likes to put rules, regulations and standards on My sheep to “protect” them but what it actually does is put them in bondage-(you yourself have done this before-God had given me a very distinct open eyed vision of what I had done and what it looked like which helped me to “see”). This is a core value that I want pulled out of the church because it is based on fear not faith.”
I hadn’t really realized I was pointing out the religious spirit. Yet, now I realize exactly what we were warring against. It came with much control, manipulation and anger. Wow the anger of the religious spirit is very ugly. It wants to shut down the truth of Jesus at all costs. I choose not to be quite and my friends choose not to be manipulated or controlled.
The church body. The people…us, we need to be the change. I realize that the religious spirit makes you think or feel with it’s false promises and lies; like you are somehow in control, you can manage yourself and others and have a pretty perfect life, your kids will be somehow perfectly safe, you can in your own power produce what only God can produce. It gives the illusion that somehow we can do only what Jesus did. This is really just a facade that I have, one scripture at a time, been trying to unveil so that many others can find their way out to freedom.
The religious spirit has been so destructive in the church building that I believe this is why so many have fled the church building. After the facade above is pulled over your eyes then comes the understanding: God won’t love me if I am not obedient, I will never be able to live up to all these rules; I am not good enough, my kids messed up and there is just no turning back for them or they messed up so lets force them into a situation that makes them mess up more; you, your kids, friends feel like failures—we just cant seem to get this “Christian life right”; so I have failed and I just continue to fail so you throw up your hands, give up, leave the church and many go so far as to completely give up by ending their life. This is not healthy or what God wants for us. This is why He sent His Son, Jesus.
Jesus stood against the religious letting them know they are vipers, snakes and blind. He was trying to get their attention too. Some heard and saw and others did not. Ultimately it is our choice. And ultimately this fight is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities. People had asked me from the beginning, some well meaning and some religious, whether or not I had forgiven what happened four years ago now. I had forgiven but the religious wanted to see some outward sign that proved I had forgiven. Like I should be acting better or not be angry or not tell the truth. Yet see I know I had forgiven because I also could see myself in their behavior. Here this is how the Lord said it for me:
Darlene, if you have been forgiven much…can they also be forgiven much. If My grace is sufficient for you…isn’t it also sufficient for them. I want them free like you Darlene.
This softened my heart to see myself in them and vice versa. Did I get to be angry? Yes! Did I get to process? Yes! Did I at times look like a hot mess while I processed years of being quite and not saying things? I sure did! But today four years later I have this huge amount of HOPE that has risen up inside myself that I have not been able to set aside. It has been going on for a week now. Maybe it was my second liver cleanse (no more angry liver-yes 10 years of stuffing effected my liver). So now I live from the inside out, knowing who I am in Christ and Whose I am. I throw regrets, mistakes at the foot of the Cross. I don’t beg for forgiveness because it has already been given. I know Jesus has done the work for me on the Cross and I get to walk with Him inside of me (known as the Holy Spirit). My kids, my husband, my friends and myself will mess up, make mistakes and we will choose to move forward and deal with what comes because we are never alone we have the God of the universe living inside us and that is the most amazing miracle of all. He really meant what He said when He spoke, “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.”