I pray you are having a blessed 2022 so far! 🕊
Today I wanted to discuss the quest for joyful, peaceful, contented living that so many people are searching for and why I believe they ultimately fail in their quest.
First I have to say this; unless someone knows Christ, I do not believe they will ever find true peace or joy in their lives.
A person can meditate, medicate, and zen themselves out with mantras as much as they want but at the end of the day those are fruitless dead ends to finding true peace and joy!
I went from being a very happy, outgoing person in my younger years to a very anxious and depressed person in my early twenties.
At one point, anxiety completely controlled my life and I lived on high power medication just to function from day to day.
I tried to end my own life not once, but five times.
But God. 🤍
God chased after me, leaving the 99 to chase me and bring my heart back to Him.
I wasn’t easy to lead back, either.
But in three years Jesus has taken me from rarely leaving my house and having 5 panic attacks in public to learning to live day by day, in the peace and joy of Christ, and actually being able to smile again!
(Side note: praise for my husband who was by my side this entire time, cheering me on and pointing me towards Christ and the freedom to truly live! ❤️)
So what changed?
How did I go from that complete mess to someone that’s (still) learning to face each day joyfully, with the hope of Christ?
Here’s the first step: I had to be willing to turn to Jesus.
Although Jesus pursued my heart, He also didn’t “force” me to return.
God gave us free will – hence Salvation, good and evil, death and life, Heaven and hell.
He didn’t make us robots.
He gave us freedom of choice in all we do.
There came a point where He had chased me for so long, that I knew I had reached that pivotal point of accepting His outreached hand or rejecting it; where I would continue living in the shackles the enemy had me in.
I willingly out of faith turned to Him.
He wasn’t going to force me, and He wasn’t going to continue to knock on my hearts door forever either.
Pretty soon I was in my Bible, with it open to Galatians 5:1, 13, 16-17, 19-21, 22-23, and 24-26 .
Most people read the Fruits of the Spirit part and miss the other verses that surround the Fruits – but that’s where the real treasure lies!
In verse 1, the Bible directly says that Christ has set us free.
In verse 13, it says that while we have been called to live in freedom, to not use this freedom we’ve been given to live out worldly lusts.
In verses 16-17, were told to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives and that we must be vigilant and on the lookout for forces of evil that would try to take away our freedom through Christ.
Then in verses 19-21 we’re foretold that if we do allow ourselves to be taken over by worldly lusts and forces of evil what to expect in our lives!
Verses 22-23 outline what we will experience in our lives if instead we fight and win against those sources of evil, the beauty and joy our hearts and lives will reflect – the Fruits of the Spirit.
And finally, in verses 24-26 we are told to nail our worldly passions and desires to the cross. To leave them there. To follow the Holy Spirit in everything we do and to follow the Holy Spirits leading in every part of our lives! 🔥
The chapter ends with a warning not to become conceited, provoke one another, or become jealous.
All I could say, and all I can still say about this whole reading, is wow.
The children of God are not called to be sheep.
We are not called to live in chains.
We are not called to live out our freedom in anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.
We are not called to be anxious about the future, to constantly fret and worry.
We are called to be loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful, and gentle.
To control ourselves.
But the catch is, we can’t do that if we aren’t letting the Holy Spirit control our lives.
Every aspect of our lives.
Each and every day.
And the unfortunate thing is that many pulpits do not even teach believers about the importance of the Holy Spirit anymore.
In fact, it was very rare that the subject was brought up during my younger years – I didn’t exactly even know the definition of what the Holy Spirit was!
If believers are not properly taught and shown about the Holy Spirit, and the power found in it, no wonder we’re in such a mess!! 🔥
No wonder so many Christian’s battle day in and day out with anxiety and depression.
No wonder we are not fully living out the Great Commission.
No wonder we are failing as The Body to reach, teach, and release modern day Apostles.
This brings me to the second step I took in this long journey: I studied and learned about the Holy Spirit.
I did my own studying, and brought up any questions I had to two trusted pastors within my church.
What I learned, and how it impacted my faith life, was astounding!
But then the hardest part came – I had to start living out verses 16-17 and 24-26.
And this is why learning about the Holy Spirit was necessary; it’s essential to living out the freedom we’ve been given as His children.
If we aren’t truly living in His freedom, we also can’t experience the Fruits of the Spirit in the fullest sense, because the freedom is the first steps to the Fruits.
But hang on to your hats – because this is where the enemy comes in.
When you start learning about the Holy Spirit, and you start attempting to first live out this freedom, and start to fully experience the Fruits – watch out!
Don’t be surprised if you start to get spiritually attacked, and find there’s a spiritual war going on in your life.
Because at some point during this journey, it will happen.
And it will have nothing to do with Jesus – and everything to do with the enemy.
And this is where so many fail.
This is where I’ve fallen multiple times on this journey of mine.
But this is where you have to get back up.
This is where you have to fight tooth and nail.
This is the exact place where it’s vital to have on the Armor of God.
This initial battle for your heart is an important step to living in Christs freedom, to beat the anxiety and depression that’s been keeping you from truly living.
But eventually this initial battle passes, and although it won’t be the last battle you or I will ever face from the enemy, it does pass.
And you know what your heart feels next?
And from this hope, it feels these next:
It feels the love of the Father.
It feels the joy of His presence.
It feels the peace through the deliverance.
It feels the kindness that Jesus shows His children.
It feels the goodness of Christ everywhere, all at once, and it’s overwhelming.
It recognizes the faithfulness of God.
The heart stills in the wonder and awe of all these combined and gentles itself from the hard shell it became in a dark and dismal world.
…. and it feels the Control that Christ now has over your life, and the heart stills itself.
And it is there, in that stillness, that you find yourself freed.
Freed from the anxiety.
Freed from the depression.
Freed from the blades, the pills, the alcohol.
No, life will never be perfect on this earth.
No, your journey won’t automatically be easy.
No, you won’t be free of doubts and worry every day of your life.
But you will know what this Freedom is.
You will know how to fight the everyday battles to get back to that Freedom.
And you will know the Holy Spirit intimately, which was the missing piece in the beginning of your journey. 🤍
I still struggle sometimes.
I still fight intrusive thoughts about the future most days.
But it is a continual learning curve and continual opportunity to bring my fears and worries to The Father, lay them at His feet, and leave them there!
That is another piece to this puzzle in overcoming anxiety and depression: when you bring burdens to Him, and lay them at His feet, you have to actually leave them there.
God has used the broken and shattered to do amazing things through Him all through history; and He is still doing that today! 🤍
To give up our worldly passions and desires, take up His cross, and follow His path for our lives is the only true way to live in complete freedom on this earth.
We truly find life, love, and freedom when we lay our selfish ambitions down and submit to His narrow way. 🕊