Just four days into the new year my dentist turned to me and said, “What you have isn’t gum recession. It’s what’s caused by grinding and clenching your teeth so hard that you’re moving them out of place. Are you stressed?”
To make a long story short, four years ago I was healed. And then a year and a half after that I put a shackle around my feet and called it freedom. Just like the Israelites on the mountain, I was standing on the edge of the Promise land but I was too scared to go in.
So I settled for the same old things I always settled for, and I signed up for something that made me feel less than fulfilled and less than myself but at least it was a “secure” and “sure” thing and it would put food on the table and an insurance card in my wallet. And seriously, I have regretted every.single.day.since.
When my dentist asked me if I’d been clenching and grinding my teeth, I couldn’t help but think, that’s what happens when you spend two and a half years literally and figuratively biting your tongue.
Someone once told me that when we talk too much about the imperfect parts of our story it can sound like suffering, so I’m not trying to delve into a dark place. But isn’t that the gospel? The good news has always been equal parts suffering and saving. If you take one piece out you no longer have the gospel. You lose the need for a Savior. Especially a Savior who was willing to take that very suffering on Himself.
So let’s just be honest about it – some things in life stink ten times over. If we can’t admit it, we’ll never know how to learn from the mistakes of our pasts, and we’ll never know how to see triumph through the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies. We’ll never be able to fully celebrate our redemption and hope if we can’t talk about the darkness that only the Light of the world can cut through.
Jesus saved me. Then He healed me. Then I followed my fears right back into a shallow version of the pit I came from, and He’s going to pull me out again. Let’s just put that out there. Because the last thing I want to do is look back on the missteps I’ve made and put a shiny gloss of paint on it and call it good.
2014 is the year to Follow. He’s given me that for my One Word and He’s promising freedom with it. I’m placing the mistakes I’ve made out of fear or lack of faith in front of Him and I’m trusting Him to build something beautiful.
I believe it. I don’t doubt it for a second. And the road map so far looks a lot like the path He paved the first time. And I’m closer to the Promise Land than I was before. So I just have to be brave enough to follow it.
When the Israelites were set free from Egypt they spent forty years wandering the desert. They could have been in the Promise Land in eleven days, but they were scared and God had to teach them some things along the way. When they finally got to the edge of the land, Moses warned them: There are going to be people who try to lead you astray from everything you just learned.
And ain’t it the truth today. Even when we’ve been set free, we’ll have a million and one temptations trying to lead us right back to where we came from. As Beth Moore puts it, “the world offers countless invitations back into the pit.”
Part of following Jesus into freedom is knowing how to stand firm when we get there (Ephesians 6:10-11, Psalm 62:1-2). So when I share my story here you’re going to hear about following Him and celebrating Him in the day to day and standing firm as I get there. I don’t know that 2014 is the year all my dreams are going to come true, but it’s the year I start following Jesus again in that direction. The year I stop playing it safe and stopping short of what He’s trying to do.
I’ll be sharing what this actually looks like in my life over the next several weeks, so stick with me. Until then, enjoy this song that my church played a couple weeks ago. The hubster practiced it for 6 hours straight the day before, and it’s now my song of the year:
Now you tell us: what’s your One Word and what are you following Jesus toward this year?
Original photo by Comeilmare. Adapted for this blog post by Stephanie Oh.