We can be in bondage to so many things. We can be beaten down by so many things that we feel trapped and lifeless, whether it is because of self-damaging thoughts, real words coming out of the mouths of others, regrets from our pasts, or patterns of sin within which we find ourselves entangled, for example. But freedom from bondage is available. Yes, freedom is possible, even for us. As long as we are living and breathing, we can be rescued. Every single thing that renders us captive and powerless can be touched by the freedom of Christ. Even when our circumstances do not change, we can be changed through the power of His resurrection life within us.
We can take on His mind and have thoughts that are true and beautiful. We can hear the truth of His words permeating to the depths of our souls. We can be forgiven by Him for our past mistakes. We can be delivered from our current addictions by accessing His help and power. Yes, we can be healed, renewed, and restored to life in the deadest, darkest, coldest, loneliest places. Consider what this means by looking at an example of the power of Jesus Christ and how he set a man free.
This is the story of Lazarus, a man who was bound by death but had the freedom to live:
“Lazarus was not doing anything when his invitation arrived. He was getting nowhere in life. Actually, he was dead! But despite that he no longer lived and breathed, he received an invitation. This was a most extraordinary invitation, and it did not come in the mail! It was personally delivered by Jesus Himself.
John 11:1–44 gives the account. Jesus had been preaching in another town when word arrived that His good friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus did not immediately depart for the city of Bethany in order to heal Lazarus; instead, He remained where He was for two more days, finishing up what He was there to do. When it was in God’s timing, and after the work had been completed in the place where Jesus was, He then traveled to see Lazarus.
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He was greeted with criticism and the accusation that He was arriving too late because Lazarus had already been dead for four days! Count them—four. Four days of being dead. Four days that passed while Jesus worked and traveled somewhere else. But Jesus did not allow this unwelcoming reception to stop Him from delivering His invitation to Lazarus. He went to the tomb where Lazarus was buried, told people to move the stone away from the mouth of the tomb, and then proceeded with His commanding voice to issue an invitation for Lazarus to live again. Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth” (v. 43), and Lazarus came out of the tomb. Here we get a really good look at what Lazarus was doing in life. He was dead in a tomb, sealed behind a stone, and bound in graveclothes. But extraordinary things happened when Jesus showed up on the scene. First of all, an invitation was given to a dead person. Second, God’s resurrection power was seen. Third, a dead man got back to living his life. If this does not prompt us to come when God calls, I do not know what will!
God extends the same invitation to us that He extended to Lazarus. God is calling us to come out from death unto life—from spiritual death unto spiritual life. This is eternal life: to know Jesus Christ (John 17:3). No matter what stones are trapping us in life, no matter what we are wrapped up in and tied up in, no matter what stench we are covered with, no matter what cold darkness we are surrounded by, no matter how alone and laid out flat we are, no matter what others say about us, no matter how hopeless things look—even if it appears that our best days are behind us—He wants to free us from spiritual bondage and restore us to life and relationships. He wants us to be healthy and vibrant again, breathing and glowing, being and doing, loving and being loved. He wants us to live! He has placed the breath of physical life into us, but He also calls us to live with the breath of the Holy Spirit.
…We can change, although our circumstances remain the same. We can have a full and joyfully abundant life now—despite the pain—because Jesus came to give us that abundant life. It seems improbable, impractical, and impossible, yet it is true. But we have to make the choice to come out of the tomb and get out of those graveclothes. We have to come forth from the unpleasantness. We have to respond to His call to leave behind the things He wants us to leave behind, and live.”1
Jesus is always inviting us to freedom and life. It is why He died—so that we might live—both now and forever. We can stand fast in the liberty by which He made us free and not be entangled again by a yoke of bondage.2 If He sets us free, we will be free indeed.3
1 Excerpt taken from Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 28-30.
2 See Galatians 5:1.
3 See John 8:36.
©Original text and photo, Francee Strain, March 20, 2021