Freedom is closer than you think.

Have you ever wandered out into the middle of the woods, perhaps in the pitch of night, and discovered, after feigning curiosity has faded away, you were lost? Do you remember the fear that swelled up inside of you like a current of fire and dread?

Perhaps your life is full of darkness and your circumstances or situation are the trees barring your way from escape and freedom. As the walls close in on you, tighter and tighter, anxiety increases until you can hardly part your lips for a breath. Your lungs squeeze tight about your heart, crushing your spirit and resolve in the process.

Are you in such a place? Do you worry about tomorrow? Do you doubt your ability or whether your circumstances will improve? Do you feel as though God has given up on you, abandoned you to the lost, and forgotten about you?

I know the feeling. I once trudged through a path of self-degradation and loss. I remember the pressure of the depression pressing down on me. I can still taste the acrid stench of my own self-doubt and victimization. My mind was a pit of venomous vipers, whispering and conspiring against me. Worse yet, I believed their slithering tongues of lies and deceit. I trusted their council and embraced their favor. I once believed I was walking by faith, but I was merely being dragged by my ankles along the forest floor. I too was a victim of my own sinful choosing. I lusted after the world and all it had to offer. And when I had come to the end of that glorious table, I discovered it had all been a ploy, a figment of my imagination, a twisted chorus of seductive and luring temptation, and I was a slave unto it.

But take heart, I say to you as the good Lord once proclaimed. I too overcame the world through the mercy and grace of Jesus. He reached through the tearing cords, knocked away the gnashing teeth and darkness that enveloped me, and pulled me free of my captivity. I remember the first breath I took once free of my confinement of misery and depression. My heart still ached, my skin still burned from the fires of Satan’s attacks, but my soul was uplifted.

We all know pain. Your pain may be different than someone else’s pain; your worry may take on a different image or symbol than your neighbor, but know this: man will be full of death because of his sin so long as we dwell in the house of the Deceiver. But I’ll close with the key to unlocking your chains of imprisonment with whatever it is that holds you in bondage (a thought, a past hurt, a spouse, a coworker, a temptation, whatever it may be).

The Lord says,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”

– Isaiah 43:1-2

The struggle, the hurt, the pain, the suffering, the doubt, the insecurity, or the burden may be real, but God’s grace is sufficient. Lean on Him through your struggle and you will be lifted up. If I’ve learned one thing as I fled my haunting past and suffering, it’s that God never left me nor forsook me. He was always there waiting for me to take His hand and let Him guide me to safety.