Our feet feel the squish of who knows what? The air is some sort of un- breathable fume and the walls are wet like tar. But we asked to come, so here we are.
Wails trick our ears from every corner and sunshine is a distant memory, but there is hope. The jingle of keys in a strong and determined hand. Several people join our ranks, faces I never thought I would see as each door is opened. Jesus smiles as He sets the last of the captives free.
Imagine being there with Jesus. Walking through hell and setting the captives free. The Bible says that Jesus took the keys from the devil. You didn’t think He kept them as a souvenir did you? He used them to free those imprisoned by death. Death before Jesus would have been terrifying. Death now is a glorious reward, Heaven.
What would it have been like to walk through the devil’s territory and let free those who had been waiting there for Jesus? Imagine the joy. Imagine the disgust and horror the devil must have felt? It would have been glorious.
Thank you Jesus that we can live unto you and no longer have to fear death because you died for us. Amen.
Have any of you ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle? It’s one of my favorite movies. Up there with LOTR, Ben Hur and the King and I. Which are also my favorite novels. One line from the movie is often quoted by fans. ‘A heart is a heavy burden to cary.’
Our hearts are one of our heaviest organs. Don’t ask me to explain because it gets gross. But our hearts also carry the most weight. They are the main necessity of the body, everything works through them. Our hearts also carry the burden of our lives. Our emotions effect our hearts; our wants and desires flow through that one muscle causing it to ache and need. Heartless people have hearts to live on but they don’t use them to their full potential. They shut off tue part of the heart that causes one to care and help and be kind. The mind helps them shut off this ability of the heart. When Howl’s heart is restored to him and he wakes up his first words are.
“Why does it feel like there is a weight on my chest?”
Because being frivolous and heartless takes nothing out of you, but to be compassionate and loving takes a great strain. A heart is a heavy burden.
Dear lock on my heart
It has been so many years we have walked together. Thank you for always keeping me safe by always keeping everyone out. Because of you I have felt less pain of betrayal than I would have if you had not been there. I have noticed that you are looking tired these days my lock, you have scratches and tarnish from where people have tried to break you, you are rusty from years of wear and your silver coating is chipping in places. You have been so very faithful. But now that I am old enough to understand the pain this world leaves I think it is time you took a break.
As I grew older I noticed something. If you keep the world out than you can’t help it’s occupants. To block your heart from grief you have to block it from people, when you block it from people you don’t care enough anymore to help them, in fact, you probably don’t even notice them.
Gentle heart lock, we are both tired of the fight and I think it is time to give your key away. Let us give it to Jesus. Let us hand Him your key and see who opens you to. Let us see who we can help when we let the people in.
Oh yes, there will be pain. Probably lots of it. But our scars will help heal the scars of others.
Thank you dear lock for your service. Now take a rest and let Jesus handle my open heart.
How would you classify a monster?
A wild haired human-like creature, with glowing eyes staring at you from behind rusted steel bars.
A four legged animal (ish) thing with long fangs and a thick chain holding it to the ground as it snarls.
How about a great dragon puffing out smoke and screaming out fire from the contains of it’s cave?
Or would you say me? I am the monster. No one understands the pain holding me behind these rusted bars, the glow in my eyes are simply tears. I snarl out of fear as my guilt holds me to the ground, and my shame keeps me bound. The puffs of smoke are to hide behind, the scream of fire simply a scream of need. No one gets me. Everyone feels this way at one time or another. No one gets me. It is true. No person can possibly get you, the true you, the real you. You think if you are exposed as the true person you are, those around you will see the monster and run. But Jesus has seen that monster. As you lean back and cower in the dark, dank corner of your cage fearing the light; Jesus comes and reaches out a hand to touch you. The brilliance of His presence is almost agonizing, as you hear all the people who have ever brought you down speak into your mind once again; because the pain they have left is no longer hidden in the dark as Jesus draws it to the light. The steel chains burn as Jesus reaches forward and points to your hand. You look down at your clenched fist and slowly hand your fist to Jesus. He gently unfolds your fingers and takes the keys to your chains and cage out of your hand. He unlocks you and carries you out into the sun and suddenly you realize, you are not the monster that you saw, and you see that you are the one who locked yourself in that cage. Your emotions allowed everything anyone ever said about you to make you feel unlovable, so much so that you locked yourself away. Allow Jesus to take the keys and set you free. Permit His love to burn away the fear and pain. He is not judging you, He loves you. Trust Him. You are not a monster. You ARE a child of God.
Credit to owner for image
They say we are all prisoners of this world, but when we become Christians we are not; only through Christ are we free from this world so why do we refuse our freedom.
We are like slaves who get so used to their masters that they can’t leave them. This world abuses us, neglects us, starves us, beats us and yet we are so used to it that we refuse to be free from it.
Jesus is right there saying ‘follow me and I will show you how to be free.’ And yet we are sitting back, clinging to this familiar world, refusing to budge because freedom scares us. As soldiers say, true freedom you have to work for and fight for. We are constantly having to fight against the slave master of this world because he knows we are afraid and he knows it’s easy to seduce us into a sense of complacency where we fall into his clutches. But Jesus is stronger than the evil and He is fighting on our side.
No matter how long it takes no matter how hard we fight against Him Jesus will always be there with a nail scarred hand stretched out toward us, pulling us out of our prison and showing us the way of the free.
‘My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my savior has ransomed me and like a flood his mercy rains. Unending love, amazing grace.’-Casting Crowns
When I was in high school I took basic karate. One of the main things drilled into the class was the fact that karate means open handed combat, which means that our combat is self defense it is not meant as a form of attack. If we apply this technique to life we get a person entering their day open minded to the people around them and empty handed of judgments. When we go out into this world we are stepping onto the mat and as Christians the way we respond to daily jabs and kicks need to be censored according to our teachings. In martial arts your fight technique reflects that of your teacher, in the same way our daily response to life needs to reflect Jesus. We enter the arena holding nothing against the people we will face, we come in open minded to their situation. Picture this. Bright blinding lights, a roaring crowd and a tall battle scarred warrior faces you down as your toe touches the mat, there’s no turning back now. You see that angry face, the deep creases of old battles lost and you gain your opinion of the warrior. They step closer and you step up to them, you don’t yet know what will happen next all you know is this person has been hurt too many times and it is your turn now to decide, do you attack or do you help? Do you reign judgement and add to their scars or do you give compassion and help the scars heal? Your mind open and clear so you can hear from the Holy Spirit and see this person’s needs and you realize all they need is a comforting hand. As the vision fades away; the crowds and the lights dim, you see the warrior in a new way, the way Jesus sees them. We shouldn’t enter the arena to fight we should enter to help; but sometimes in this daily life we Christians forget that we are not here to judge and attack the people around us, we are here to help them and in doing so show them Jesus. That’s the point to open handed combat, coming without prejudices and without judgements so you can help heal this world just as Jesus came without a sword or armor as a gentle baby in a manger.
Ladies, I bet you could name at least one movie where your heart was momentarily stolen by the suave and handsome thief. Whether he was the main character, a secondary character or even a minor character I bet you could think of at least one. He steals for a good reason maybe, kind of like Robin Hood, or maybe he really is a scoundrel but there’s just something about him. I know a robber who steals for a good reason, a good guy who many don’t see as a thief. But there’s the catch, what He is taking already belongs to Him. Jesus is the grave robber. He comes like a thief in the night and steals us away, isn’t that fabulous! When we die we don’t just lie in our graves with nothing to do; Jesus comes for us and only our bodies go to the grave, our souls, our personalities, us… we go to Heaven. Jesus isn’t trying to be alluring to falsely take from us, He steals our hearts with His love and His truth and His sacrifice because He adores us, and once He has our hearts we belong to Him and Him to us and we no longer are of this world. If we give Him our hearts while we are still alive then we can have no fear in death because Jesus is our grave robber. He snatches us away so we are not captives of the grave but are captives of the one true King. I don’t know about you, but Jesus is my favorite robber, a robber who steals us away because He loves us. He is not a thief in truth because He owned us even before we knew what life was and now death is life and this new life is the greatest adventure because it’s an adventure where we can see and touch Jesus, the thief who stole us from death and suffering.
What a beautiful contradiction we live in as Christians. We who are captive yet free. We are captured by God’s love, held by His grace, set free by His mercy; we are free captives. We are not branded as a possession, but we are marked with a seal as precious goods. A seal that doesn’t say ‘ you are my property’ but instead says ‘you are my beloved.’ We are not held against our wills with chains, but instead we are held safe with strong, comforting hands. We belong to Jesus, yet we are free to leave. Once you’ve known Jesus as your personal savior you will never want life without Him. We are a contradiction, captives who are free. But to be a captive of love, to be held by grace, to be saved by mercy is a capture I never want to avoid or flee from. Capture me my savior and never, ever let me go! There is no place safer than in the hands of Jesus. The world says that our Bibles are books of hate, but they couldn’t be more wrong because our Bibles couldn’t be more full of love. All of us have things we don’t like in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean those things are wrong, they’re just hard to accept. We are all sinners, that’s not a hate statement it’s just a fact. Jesus loves us and came to save the sinner, that’s also in the Bible. Jesus loves us despite our sin, that’s not a statement of hate it has love written in it. We are captured by someone of love, who wrote us a book telling us how much He loves us and giving us examples of His love. If we didn’t have sin we wouldn’t have needed a savior. The devil caused sin to become great, and he took captive many people, he took people right out of the church and caused them to do evil. Filled with sorrow and rage God saw that the only way for these people to become clean was to send a perfect sacrifice. With pain overwhelming His heart God sent His most beloved and only son as that sacrifice. Now we are set free. The devil had made us prisoners, captives under a cruel master, slaves to his every whim; but Jesus made us brothers and sisters, friends, captives of a new nature because we are captives of love. I wouldn’t want to be anything else. My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, yet I choose to stay with my savior, because in Jesus my master is my friend. Choose Jesus, He chose you before you ever existed.