Update on my mom from my last post: She did have a mild stroke, but is home now and doing pretty well. It primarily affected her speech, but even this is much improved from last week. She has a couple follow up appointments in the next few weeks with her doctors. Thank you for your continued prayers.
“I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou has considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities” – Psalm 31:7
Lately, God is showing me there are chains stronger than the physical kind. I recently watched a courtroom scene unfold that shook me to my core. I saw people blinded by hatred, deadened in apathy, and one bound in his own shame. He was the only literal prisoner, though it was clear to me the others were just as bound – if not more.
I sat helpless; my heart beating wildly in my chest. I wanted to cry out on behalf of the prisoner. There is more to him than what you say he is. He is someone’s child too. Lord, have mercy. I leaned forward in breathless suspense; my eyes riveted on the judge in the room, my wordless plea raised to the Judge of all eternity.
The sentence confirmed “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like watercourse wherever He pleases” (Proverbs 21:1). God’s Sovereign control over the courtroom was evident. He had not left us in their power. He had intervened on our behalf. His mercy prevailed in a place that had none. I had tasted and seen that the Lord is good. This experiential witness of His tender compassion and personal care forced me to make some difficult decisions later in the week.
The courtroom scene haunted me for days following the hearing. I was burdened with grief and by a sense of calling to minister to my family. This led to a decision to step back from my other ministry responsibilities at church for now. I quickly wrote a letter and sent it off to my son. I felt compelled to witness to God’s kindness, praying he would have eyes to see Love beyond the hate. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him” (1 John 4:16, 17). God called me to love my son in action; to bind myself to His purposes and redemptive work. This required a surrender of other activities that were competing for my time and energy.
I am a known wanderer. I am really good at starting projects; not so good at finishing them. I lose interest. I am on to the next thing. I have to be on guard at all times against my own tendency to initiate something else to fill the space I just opened up in my schedule. The words of this hymn have been my prayer:
“Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”
My first thought as I listened to it is “What exactly is a fetter?” I looked it up. A fetter is a shackle, a chain, any check or restraint. I let that sink in. It is God’s goodness that binds our hearts to Him. His love constrains us to His work and compels us forward in love.
There are chains all around us – seen and unseen. We are called to partake in God’s redemptive work: proclaim freedom for the captives. But we have to be free ourselves. Not free in a wandering, wasteful, do-whatever-we-feel-like-doing sense of free, but free on the outside to live and love that comes from the internal binding of a heart fettered to His goodness.