Unlike any in recent memory, this year has brought fresh waves of harsh reality. Limitations. Restrictions. Change. Denial. Loss. Disappointment. Plainly stated: life interrupted. It is far from comfortable to realize that circumstances or choices are out of our control. We long to be free from all that hems us in. We ache for release.
As I ponder these thoughts, my mind drifts to a favorite lady from the pages of Scripture: Mary Magdalene.
After Mary experienced the healing power of JESUS, her life was never the same again. Transformed. In the deepest sense! Scripture tells us seven demons came out of her. I can’t imagine the freedom she felt, the first deep breath of fresh, pure life after what must have been a long, torturous struggle.
From that time, she rarely left His side. Among other women, Mary travelled with JESUS and cared for Him. She witnessed His brutal crucifixion and was one of the first to visit His tomb on resurrection morning. He met her there, reassured her heart and gave her a new job to do – to tell others that our Redeemer lives!
I remember hearing that word “transformed” at the beginning of a new study year with Bible Study Fellowship. I think it may have been the year we dug deep into Matthew’s gospel. Our teaching leader urged us to watch for ways that GOD’s truth would transform our hearts and lives over the course of that year.
Hmmm, I thought. What might transformation look like in my life? It wasn’t immediately obvious. By GOD’s grace, I have never known the struggles Mary must have lived through, battling evil spirits. In comparison, my life seemed rather quiet and simple. I decided to pray for the LORD’s transforming power anyway, curious to see what might unfold in the months that followed.
He revealed two key things to me. (1) I had little concept of JOY – steady and enduring, far deeper than mere happiness. (2) I did, in fact, battle voices in my head and heart that were not from Him. Haunting lies that tossed me about day by day, working to derail and defeat me, from the same enemy of our souls.
Lingering over Biblical accounts like Mary’s, reading GOD’s Word cover to cover and writing His promises in my journal, my heart was flooded with His truth that Christ’s work on the cross had already set me free! I can replace every lie swirling in my head with what GOD says. What my Creator and Redeemer says about me, and about all that I experience, is the only voice that matters. His truth speaks peace and clarity. I can always breathe easier when His perspective realigns my own.
For years I have treasured my salvation and the confident hope in my home in heaven with the LORD JESUS one day, but I began to see Him ALSO transform my days here on earth! My Savior didn’t just secure my eternity. He lives and pleads for me before the Father’s throne and walks close beside me to show me I can know a very different life – right now!
Freedom is life-changing. With a heart filled with ever deepening gratefulness, I can also know JOY! The closer I am drawn to His heart, the more I appreciate His love that is like no other … and my heart responds with JOY.
So, as one year closes and a new one begins, as the world arounds us continues to tilt and groan, how do I most need Him to transform my days? What voices do I need Him to hush? What mistruths do I need Him to set straight? What perspective from His vantage point will steady my heart and help me to find rest and peace in His plans always moving forward, right on cue?
When I don’t know the answers, may I find a tucked away place to talk to Him and simply ask! Ask Him to reveal places in my heart or my life where His transforming power can place my feet back on solid ground. I can be sure that He will hear. He will listen with attentive care. He will answer. My Savior is the One with the power to set me free, again.
As a favorite hymn asks, “How can I help but love Him when He loves me so?” I think Mary would echo the same. It is my joy to join her in service for our Savior, traveling with Him, eager to embrace His assignment to tell others that our Redeemer lives!
Down From His Glory by William E. Booth-Clibborn
Down from His glory, ever living story,
my GOD and Savior came, and JESUS is His Name.
Born in a manger, to His own a stranger,
a Man of sorrows, tears and agony.
What condescension, bringing us redemption;
that in the dead of night, not one faint hope in sight,
GOD, gracious tender, laid aside His splendor,
stooping to woo, to win, to save my soul!
O how I love Him! How I adore Him!
my breath, my sunshine, my all in all!
The great Creator became my Savior,
and all GOD’s fullness dwelleth in Him.