Like a city whose walls are broken down
is a man who lacks self-control.
Earlier this week I attended graduation ceremony for one of the guys that goes to our church. His name is Dean and he has completed a 16 month Freedom Bound Recovery Program with Union Gospel Mission. The program is described on their web page as follows. "Freedom Bound is a long-term recovery program for men that encompasses counseling, addiction therapy, education, job training and Bible study all within the context of a safe environment centered on grace, acceptance and accountability. The program consists of five phases and lasts an average of 18 months."
Dean shared how there were many times during the 16 months that he wanted to quit. There were quite a few guys at various stages of the program receiving recognition and and certificates for the 4 month portions that they had completed. Only Dean and one other guy were graduating from the completed program. Way to go Dean - we are so proud of you!!!
They were allowed to share about their journey. They had both come from very dark and broken places and had stuck with the program even though at times it was very hard. Both men shared about how the next step, the transition back to life beyond the program was no less difficult than the past 16 months. Now they have to take all that they have learned and worked through and put it into practice in daily life. Dean has to find housing and a job. The other guy was returning to his family and had a job waiting for him. I have never struggled with addiction personally but I have friends who I have watched go through the battle to overcome.
their story and web page.
I realize that to even begin such a journey is huge and may seem impossible. I have seen God take people that I know personally and walk with them every step of the way. Sure at times it is one step forward and two steps back. I think an important aspect of those who are victorious is that they found a group of people that was willing to love them and support them on good days and bad days. People who would stand with them and believe for Gods best to become possible in their lives.
Its not always addictions that people need to over come some times it's depression and mental illness. Some times its obesity or eating disorders. Some times its physical health. Perhaps it is fear or pride.
I guess I found myself thinking about the verse at the top of the page that was shared by one of the speakers as Dean's graduation. I think we all need to check the walls to the city of our life. Are you getting harassed by the enemy? Perhaps there are places where the walls or hedges that should surround and protect you are damaged. When a wall is broken down it no longer serves its purpose of protecting the inhabitants of the city. In its broken state the enemy can come and go at will.
I have noticed through the years that there are two major things that break down the hedges in our lives. Un-forgiveness, and Un-repentance. I won't make light of the things that you have done or the things that have been done to you.
Lets start with forgiveness. To forgive someone who has hurt or wronged you does not in anyway say what they did was ok. It was wrong and it hurt you.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ”
I have heard people say "I'll never forgive... and sadly they will never get free. We don't deserve to be forgiven by Jesus - yet he forgives us - he pays the price that we may be liberated from the bondage of sin. The following parable really speaks to me in a deep way.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant - Matthew 18
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times
shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts
with his servants.24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “The servant fell on his knees before him.‘Be patient with me,’ he begged,
‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him,
canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him.
‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison
until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened,
they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said,
‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured,
until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you
unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
When we refuse to forgive we open our selves up to the displeasure of the King of Kings who has pardoned us. The jailers for us becomes the demonic torment that we open our selves up to as a result of our refusal to forgive others.
The road to freedom is to accept that Jesus has forgiven you and you must in turn forgive those who have wronged and hurt you. You may not even know how your heart could change to even be able to forgive. If thats where you are - start with Jesus I'm willing for you to help me change my heart to help me get to the place of being able to forgive. For now I am willing to acknowledge that I need your help. I know my heart will have to change and you alone Lord can bring that kind of change that is required.
Sometimes you need to also forgive yourself for not living up to your own expectations. For your own sins and failures. You don't have to remain under the weight of shame, guilt, condemnation, and oppression. Jesus came to set the captives free.
[ The Year of the LORD’s Favor ] The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.
to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Lord I pray for these readers, if there are parts of the wall around their life that has been broken help them to see it for what it is. Help them to see where they might need to repent and who they may yet need to forgive. Help us Lord to find the courage to to face the places that are broken and are hidden in the darkness of shame and guilt. Lord help your prodigals to come to their senses and to be ready to leave the pig pin life behind and begin the journey back to the father who when he sees them will run to them with open arms. Help us to each become Freedom bound.