Many of us are searching for freedom or healing in different areas of our lives. Maybe you are dealing with a stronghold, physical pain or illness, or a long trial that has lasted much longer than you ever thought it would.
What exactly does freedom look like?
If you were within walking distance of a place you wanted to visit, it would be very challenging to get there if you didn’t know which direction to go, what street it was on, or what landmarks to look for nearby.
It’s challenging to want freedom but not know how to get there or even what it’s supposed to look like when we arrive.
Some of us know all too well what it’s like to feel like we are chasing after something that may never come. Freedom can seem incredibly elusive if we have been trying to attain it without ever being able to grasp ahold of it.
When I started on my healing journey with God, my definition of freedom looked much different than it looks now.
My definition of freedom used to be, “a complete absence of temptation and struggle”.
If I had a fleeting temptation, I would condemn myself for still not being free.
I was waiting for that one day when I would wake up and it was completely gone forever.
I didn’t realize that my definition of freedom was holding me in even greater bondage.
Could that be the case for you, too?
The Lord started showing me that I was putting all of my focus on freedom and healing. I prayed, read scriptures, and read books and blog posts about it all the time. I thought this was what I was supposed to do. This is when He pointed out Matthew 6:33 to me:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:33.
I started to realize that I had been seeking healing and freedom first, not Jesus. (Please stick with me.) As time went on, when I learned to seek Him first and continued to build intimacy and transparency with Jesus, the temptations I had were not as strong anymore.
The shame that had been fueling a lot of those temptations was being stripped away.
This is also when I began to realize God wanted me to talk to Him about the temptations and longings I faced. He wasn’t ashamed of me and wanted me to talk to Him about all of it. This is where I started building intimacy with Him.
This is an excerpt from my journal when I was finally starting to grasp what freedom really meant:
“Freedom is not the absence of struggle”
“The Lord does not want me to wait for my temptations to go away before I obey Him. I am to obey Him now and trust that He will supply the grace I need to continue obeying Him while I am still struggling in this way. He is challenging me to step out and trust Him. I can have freedom while still experiencing this if I do not let it control my mind, will, and emotions.
” I am to keep my focus on God. He is the supreme authority in my life, and I will keep my focus on Him, even while I’m still dealing with this. This is what God is telling me to do. I cannot focus on and wait for Him to eliminate this. Yes, He can do that at any time, but I cannot put my focus there at all. I will trust He is taking care of me and put the whole of my focus on Him.
” I do not need perfect circumstances to live in freedom. I do not need pain-free circumstances to live in freedom. I do not need to have all my struggles wiped away before I am free or before I am living in obedience to Him. Being free means that these temptations and longings have no authority over me. I can still have them and be free. It’s all about who I choose to turn to when I have them. I choose Jesus.“
I started asking Him how He could fill that place in my life.
My view started to change from:
“Why can’t I get over this? Why won’t God set me free? How can I do this one more day? What’s wrong with me? When will I ever be set free from this? I can’t do this anymore.”
My prayer then became:
“Jesus, you are the one who fills my deepest needs. I give this to you and ask that you help me to walk in deeper intimacy with you. I want to know you more. I know it’s you that I need. You are the one who satisfies my deepest needs.”
What I didn’t realize until later was that I was created for intimacy with Jesus. It’s what I was made for. He is the one who fulfills me and fills the longing in my soul.
This is what you were made for as well.
Freedom isn’t about that one magical day when everything is better. No problems. No stress. No pain. No temptations.
If that is our definition of freedom, then each day that goes by can look like a failure.
Freedom is the ability to honor and obey God now, where we are, and not be ruled by any temptations and longings that we have.
Freedom is walking in who we were created to be while being able to easily recognize and dismiss the lies the enemy throws our way.
When we no longer believe the lies, the power those lies had is removed.
Freedom is the ability to know who we are and not hate ourselves, condemn ourselves, or berate ourselves for not being where we think we “should be”.
Freedom is knowing that temptations and longings have no authority over us. Instead of getting swallowed up by shame, we can let it drive us to Jesus.
That’s freedom, and it’s a journey I’m still walking on.
Freedom is being able to not have temptations rule over us all day anymore. It’s a place where our minds and hearts can rest. (I was never sure that was possible. Let me assure you it is!)
Freedom is being able to take our focus off of our circumstances and find joy (even when we don’t see anything changing, yet).
This perspective alleviates the shame, condemnation, and other things that speak to us when we are tempted and feel deep longings for intimacy and connection.
Whether you are searching for freedom from a certain temptation, pain/sickness, or a long trial of another kind, this is a place where your mind and heart can finally rest.
This is not about shutting your longings or desires off. It’s about redirecting all of this to Jesus. He knows your true needs and who He created you to be.
If you are on a search for freedom, no matter what that looks like for you, I pray this encourages you. Keep going. Keep seeking Jesus, and let your temptations and longings drive you to Him – not away from Him. Start pursuing intimacy with Him if you haven’t already.
Seek Him first. He is the only one who can straighten all of this out and help you walk in the freedom you were meant to have. This is where you will find life, freedom, fulfillment, and rest. Jesus wants this for you, even more than you want it for yourself. You were created to be able to walk in freedom with Him.