The Bare Soul - December 16, 2007
Setting the Captives Free

Psalm 137:1 - By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

Psalm 126:1-2 - When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

Several years ago I remember how tough it was lying in bed at night with my knees literally throbbing with pain. I loved running so much, yet seemed to continue to injure myself. The "clicking" of my knees scared me as I would bend down to pick something up. It was a noticeable sound if someone was standing next to me while I bent down. I didn't want to stop running, but the pain was getting severe. Should I have my knees scoped? The answer, for me, was not surgery but a radical new way to run called barefoot running. That was over four years ago and I haven't looked back.

I didn't really understand back then that I was a "stupid" runner. Even more than a stupid runner, I was clueless regarding what good running form should be -- the kind of form that promotes correct body movement, especially in my legs and feet. Most shod runners don't have problems. But then there were those few, like myself, who seemed to be able to get away with running "stupid" for a while, and they would eventually get injured and just take time off from running. That wasn't good enough for me, because I didn't want to give up my love of running even for one day! However, with any "addiction" there is a price to pay and I paid it with severe injuries that I thought would end my running career. However, a day came in October 2003 that would change my running forever. Inevitably, this knowledge of proper placement would enable me run effortlessly and injury-free. It was truly like setting a captive free once I received this personal truth.

Years before, I was enslaved to a different pain. It was the sickness of a body of death that manifested most demonstrably through alcoholism and addiction. I remember those nights of lying on my bed with sickening drunkenness possessing my body and mind. Even worse, I remember the mornings and the horror of knowing I was in chains to the demon alcohol and that I was doomed to continue doing its bidding. Then there was the "not knowing". What had I done the night before? Where had I been? The anguish of mind and soul as I dealt with the guilt of my own powerlessness through black out drinking. Who or what could set me free from this body of death?

Once I finally did put the plug in the jug in 1992 and recommit my life to the Lord, the terror ended. I once again started back on that road to freedom and to the "Zion" of total restoration of body, soul, and spirit. I was one of the fortunate ones. A lot of folks go through life never knowing that their "form" is all messed up because they don't have anything "demonstrably" wrong. They consider themselves to be pretty good people. They go to church and tithe and do some charity work occasionally. Yet, some who look good on the outside -- like they are doing all the right things are merely masking the loneliness and sense of loss within. Doing what looks right on the outside, they convince themselves that they are free yet they are captives to their own sense of self-righteousness.

The way back from any captivity is first acknowledging that one is a captive. Secondly, to know how to be set free and to take action toward that freedom. Third, is to walk in that liberty. It was not enough for me to know that I was a stupid runner, but I needed to change my form (for me, barefoot running was the key). As a sinner that was a demonstrative drunk, it was a matter of surrendering my life and will to the Lord Jesus to allow Him to set me free. Today, I thank God that my maladies, both physically and spiritually, were catalysts to propel me to their respective solutions. My prayer for others is that God would shake us all out of our "comfort", our mediocrity, our casual lives and propel us toward radical living. Jesus said to the church at Laodicea in Revelations the third chapter that He wishes that His church were either hot or cold -- but since they were but lukewarm He would spew them out of His mouth. Don't be as the Laodiceans. Be radical! Be on fire for God. Do you know that God has set you free? Are you on a joyous journey to your respective "Zion"? Or has God not dealt with you in a breaking way where you are "By the rivers of Babylon ... weeping, remembering the lushness of Zion?" I tell you my friend, you and I will never understand what true freedom from captivity is until we have wept over our sin. Only then will we truly know the joy of His salvation!

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