Finding Freedom in Release
I played softball growing up. Not just in the community summer league, we were all in. Both my sister and I, with my dad as our coach, were in summer league, school team, fall league, and traveling. I loved the cheering and comradery, the competition, the skill, and practice it involved. I can still feel the anticipation after hearing the ball hitting the bat and the anticipation of what would happen in the next 10 seconds. I can still smell the combination of dirt, leather, and stale sweat. Recently, in my prayer time I was taken back to these days…
On New Year’s Day, I participated in a yoga workshop where I was asked to pray about what word I want to embody in 2019? What word do I hear the Father pressing upon me, to let infiltrate my roots and really consume me? The word was release. As I scoured the scriptures, I was brought to Psalm 102.
David is overwhelmed with despair, pouring out before God everything his current situation is making him feel, do and endure. He describes symptoms of anxiety and depression; he has pain in his body, he’s stopped eating well, he isn’t sleeping, and he feels attacked by the enemy. As I read David’s heart cry, I’m reminded of times when I am so overwhelmed with my situation, it’s taken complete control of my mind and body. I find myself reaching for bags and boxes instead of real, nourishing foods, I can’t seem to sleep through the night or wake up well in the mornings, I’m highly irritable, and unable to truly see the people around me. But the tell-tale symptom is when my chest is tight, I can’t seem to catch my breath regardless of the number of deep inhale/exhale combos I take, my mind is doing everything but focusing on what I need to be focused on, and I start to feel that build up of tears. The circumstance, whether it be self-inflicted or brought upon by unfortunate incidences, has me completely captive, I’ve become a prisoner. In the past year or so, with the help of my closest girlfriends, I’ve asked myself, why? What am I holding onto so tightly that is forcing me to walk into that prisoner cell? What’s holding me back from choosing the freedom Jesus died to give me?
While in the first 11 verses of this psalm David describes his pain, the remaining 16 he sings God’s praises and is reminded of his big, all-mighty, all-knowing, eternal Papa. His fears and emptiness seem to be drowned out by the glory and goodness of God. When you know whose you are and why you are His, it is mind-blowing and frustrating how we could ever let the temporary circumstances of life captivate and paralyze us. My answer to that why came to me through this ‘word for the year’, release.
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from the heavens he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death” Psalm 102:18-20.
Release, or in Hebrew, pathach, means to be set free, to open wide - specifically to loosen, to free, to open oneself. My friends, it is no surprise to God that we are prisoners seeking freedom. God wants to release us. But, as long as you and I are holding onto the key for dear life, we’re preventing ourselves from experiencing freedom. We must let go of the control and open ourselves to His Presence and the fullness of His love.
So, as I sat quietly with eyes closed, taking in what God had for me through this deep Truth, I was back on the softball field and a familiar physical feeling washed over me. Standing at home plate, awaiting each pitch to come roaring in with hopeful anticipation to make contact and increase my team’s potential to win the game… gripping the bat so tightly for so long that my whole body is tense, I’m not breathing, and my mind is fixated on one thing only. But then, regardless of the outcome, I release. The tension dissipates, my muscles relax, I breathe, I can feel the muscles in my brain let in air, and my perspective broadens. There is ease and relief, there is freedom.
This is where I will live, in the release, throwing myself open and letting my heavenly Papa in. I let Him take control. Living on faith and by His Word rather than in my own striving by the means of who I was before knowing Jesus. I am a new creation and therefore the old has gone and the new is here. So this year, I will release, over and over again. I will open wide to my Father, to the Holy Spirit – letting Him in and losing myself.
So friends, I challenge you –
Will you join me in this prayer to release, to open wide and lose yourself in the Father’s love?
Decide what word do you want to embody in 2019? Ask our Father where he wants you to grow and who He’s lovingly calling you to become?
If you struggle with control and feel imprisoned by the anxiety it creates, get on your knees and release the key to every room in the home of your heart to our big, all-mighty, all-knowing, eternal Papa!
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