In many ways, the story of Strength to Stand‘s heroine, Lee Russell, mirrors my own. I began my Christian walk filled with love and joy, but over time, the troubles and contradictory messages of this world siphoned my joy away. I went through life living for myself. I had no higher purpose and therefore little purpose at all. My path became a twisted, winding road and before I knew it, I was heading in the complete opposite direction from where I had started.
But God never abandoned me. He gave me over to my own choices, but even through the trials those choices brought, the sense that he cared for me and loved me never left. In fact, it was that lingering sense of joy that served as my armor and enabled me to throw off the evil that threatened to bind me forever.
My path changed once I returned to Indiana and to Bible study and prayer. It took many years before I experienced the freedom a relationship with Jesus promises. I was reluctant to hold up my chains so he could release me from them. Instead, I wanted to secret them away, keep them hidden, as if he hadn’t been right beside me while they were forged. But, eventually, the Holy Spirit convinced me that I could truly be free. Jesus struck off my chains and true joy surged through me. Peace followed on its heels.
Psalm 107:14 says He brought you out of the deepest darkness and broke your chains.NIV
Jesus’ name has the power to break chains. His name has the power to free us from all bondage. His name can fill us with joy.
The purpose for my writing is to break chains through the power of God’s word. I write in obedience to God’s call in my life. This is my way, or one of the ways, I believe God wants me to make an impact on the world for him, through him. I pray that once my stories are published they will make a difference in the lives of those who read them. That they will touch lives and bring people closer to the Jesus who longs to release them from their chains and flood their lives with joy. I write in response to and in celebration of the joy that I have experienced.
Freedom brings joy. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” Later, Paul again says, “You were called to be free.” Ephesians tells of our adoption as sons and how we are made alive through the cross of Christ Jesus. Ch 2:14 says Jesus is our peace. Once we choose Jesus, we are made new. Our old selves are made new and in this new self, the Holy Spirit lives. Now we must learn to allow the joy and peace inherent in the Spirit to flood our lives and take away the penchant for anxiety and despair.
This is not an easy task, but becomes more natural with practice and persistence. As we immerse ourselves in the Spirit, out instincts change and joy and peace are the basic building blocks rather than the things for which we grasp when trouble comes calling.