The past several weeks (more like months, if we’re being completely honest), I’ve felt stuck in a spiritual lull. It seemed like I could only give a 60% effort in my walk with the Lord, and only recently did I truly acknowledge this was because of a severe lack of faith on my part.
I’ve spent the majority of the past two years of my life asking God for things.
Asking Him for a boyfriend.
Asking Him for guidance in friendships.
Asking Him for direction for my future.
Asking Him to take things away, like worry, anxiety, fear, doubt, sickness, discomfort, etc.
But the times I’ve spent thanking Him and showering Him with my prayers pale in comparison to all my requests.
In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I truly thought of my relationship with God as something that belonged to me.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I grew up in a Christian home, church, and a Christian school. I never really felt like the odd religious girl in social situations, considering most all of my friends at least called themselves Christians. I never needed to stretch my faith, or even when I did it wasn’t all that far.
It was all too easy to let myself fall into a “rhythm of religion”, fitting right in with my other classmates singing along to “Set A Fire” in chapel.
Even after I graduated and immediately fell in sync with my new classmates at Lee, I felt the same. Numb.
I accepted Christ into my heart as a bright-eyed seven-year-old. Truthfully, I don’t remember much about the experience. Christ kept knocking and eventually, I answered.
I often go back to that night that my life changed forever, wondering if it really happened at all. I was so young, and I’ve strayed so many times since then that I wonder if I’m really a part of God’s family, or rather a border staying in His house when I please.
I believe the Enemy knows my history with anxiety, so much so that he uses it to draw me farther from God. The devil plants seeds of doubt in my mind, and especially on nights like tonight when I’m emotionally burdened with fears for the future, those seeds sprout swiftly.
Tonight, I was overcome with warring thoughts of both uncertainty and those of peace. I struggled to grasp what was real, and what were lies.
As I was voicing these nervous thoughts to my mother– who is probably the only person apart from Jesus who understands my anxious mind the best– she ran to the kitchen and came back with a book. She awarded this book to me with a bright smile on her face, saying I should read it.
I went back to my room and curled under my covers, still feeling hopelessly alone. I stared at the book for a few seconds before I finally opened it, and after reading the first few lines, tears came streaming down my face.
On the Wings of the West Wind is a children’s book by Joni Eareckson Tada. If you aren’t familiar with Joni’s story, she became a quadriplegic– someone who is paralyzed from the shoulder down– after a diving accident into the Chesapeake Bay when she was eighteen. Today, Joni is the founder of the organization Joni and Friends, which exists specifically for the disabled community in order to make Christ known more prominently. She is also the author of several books and a songwriter. Not to mention, this woman underwent chemo after she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2010, coming out in 2015 cancer-free.
Tell me God isn’t amazing and can’t use anyone. I’ll wait.
Joni’s book, On the Wings of the West Wind, is, yes, a children’s book– but it is so much more than that. I enjoy literature and deep books where you have to search for the meaning– I think it’s fun (dorky, right?). But I can also appreciate the simplicity of a children’s book from time to time because their purposes are simply stated.
In the case of this particular children’s book on this particular night, I stopped in my tracks. This book is about knowing the truth and letting the truth set you free. It centers around a slave named Marcus who works in a field, chains digging into his wrists, for a terrible master. All Marcus wants is freedom.
Every now and then, Marcus would get a whiff of freedom in the form of the west wind. One day, a messenger comes in on the wings of the west wind to deliver a message from the good King.
“Do you wish to be free?
Then you must leave your chains behind
Know the truth. It will set you free. Come and follow me.”
Marcus is then shown the way to freedom in a kind, loving King from the west. When he arrives in the King’s Presence, the King says to him,
“And don’t forget, you now have eyes to see the truth and ears to hear my word. Never forget that.”
Even still, Marcus is lured back over to the evil master’s side of the fence. Marcus becomes confused and lost in all the whispers, losing sight of the truth in the midst of his fear.
Marcus, overcome with emotion and frozen in despair, begins to obey the evil master’s wishes again. Something Marcus notices, though, is how his old master cannot touch him but with words only.
Realizing his strength comes from the good King, Marcus rises to the occasion and looks his Enemy in the eyes, saying, “You are the one who is a liar, and you have no right to boss me around. I belong to the King, and my place is in his green pastures.” The old master falls away, leaving Marcus along for now.
Marcus is welcomed back with open arms to the King’s pastures. Marcus knows he will be taunted and teased again by his old master, but the King reminds him at the end of the book,
“Believe me when I say that although you can never change back into a slave again, you do have the choice to act like one, to live like one. The chains have no power over you that you do not give them. The power is in what you choose to believe.”
This book touched me so deeply tonight. My heart needed a heavenly reminder of what Christ did for me eleven years ago. I lost sight of His splendor in the depths of my endless worrying.
For the first time in years, I feel like my faith is truly my own. I want everyone to experience a relationship with God, and I want God to use me to make a difference in this life. If not for the world, then maybe just for one person.
The thing is when God decides to set up camp in our souls and we let Him in, He is not in the business of leaving– ever. I believe we could all agree that He is the only houseguest we don’t mind having around forever. And the best part is, He’s not even a guest.
He’s already moved in, and guess what? He’s our Father. Our true, adopted, Heavenly Father.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”