On Wednesday I was flying from Jackson, Mississippi to Denver, Colorado, for a speaking engagement. On the flight, I closed my eyes and for some reason, I started thinking about all the people Jesus encountered. All the people whose stories we read about in the Gospels. And I started wondering what happened to them afterwards. What happens to the prodigal son once he comes home?
What happens to the sinner who’s beating his chest while the priest is arrogant and proud?
What happens to the widow after she gives her last mite?
What happens to the man whose demon is cast out?
What happens to the woman who’s almost stoned to death for adultery?
What happens to Mary once she breaks her alabaster jar and pours out her expensive perfume?
What happens to Zacchaeus after he climbs down out of the tree and has Jesus to his home for dinner?
What happens to the man who was blind but now can see?
To the man who spent his life by the pool of Bethseda, waiting for angels to stir the waters?
To Nichodemus who humbly confesses his doubts?
One word came to me. After encountering Jesus, they were free.
They were free because Jesus named their chains. They were free because Jesus unlocked their chains. They were free because Jesus released them from what was tying them down, what was holding them back. They were free because they could name the lie, the sickness, the disease, the problem that was holding them back -- and they could finally see the truth.
John 8:36 says, "...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Today, my friend, it is time for you to be free. You were born to be free. You were meant to be free. You were meant to soar. You were meant to thrive. You were meant to smile. You were created to live in joy.
You have to do what everyone who encountered Jesus had to do.
You have to name your chain.
Adultery? Shame? Jealousy? Debt? Addiction? Doubt? Fear? Stuff? Grief? Regret? Failure? Comparison? Eating disorder? Sexual abuse?
Whatever it is, you have to name it. And then you have to give it to Jesus.
Give to Jesus what has tied you down, held you back, kept you in the shadows, made you feel less-than.
And then you have to listen to what Jesus says about you. Jesus says you are known the way the woman at the well was known, in spite of the fact that she tried to hide behind theoretical questions and small talk.
Jesus says you are loved the way the leper was, in spite of how unlovely and unlovable you feel.
Jesus says you are wanted the way Jesus wanted the thief on the cross to enter Paradise with him.
Jesus says you are precious the way the woman caught in adultery was, in spite of her sin and her shame.
And Jesus says you are free.
No matter how big your chain is, no matter if it was done by you or to you, no matter how long it has been holding you back -- when Jesus says you are free, you are FREE!
So, my friend, today is the day to have courage.
Name your chain.
Let Jesus unlock and unleash you.
Stand at the edge of the cliff and feel your wings, maybe for the first time.
Let these words Jesus says about you resonate deep in your soul: Known, Loved, Wanted, Precious and Free.
And then, let the wind of the Spirit catch you... and teach you how to fly.