The Bare Soul -
July 7, 2013
Jeremiah 15:11- The LORD said, "Surely I will set you free for purposes of good; Surely I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you in a time of disaster and a time of distress."
As many of you know, barefoot running literally set me free back in 2003 from achy joints and the possibility of knee surgery. As time passed, I have realized that not everyone has "ears to hear" what I purport about my running recovery. That's okay. I realize barefoot running is not for everyone. However, I have realized that God has given me an extraordinary gift that garners some attention. It is my responsibility as a believer to "decrease so He can increase". It is with joy that I try to give back through my witness and charity work to those around me, both in person and through cyberspace.
Everyone that knows the Lord Jesus Christ and has trusted in His grace has been set free from their respective lives of sin. God does not merely set us free to lounge in His pleasure, drinking in the fellowship of His love and goodness. Each and everyone of us who know the Lord have been set free to help to set others free. It is our responsibility to be faithful to Jesus' admonition to go forth and make disciples of all nations. That literally means to make others like myself! Around 400 years ago, John Donne the Jacobean Poet/Preacher stated "...No man is an island, entire of itself ..." Certainly Jeremiah felt this affinity toward the nation of Israel. He identified with it -- he wept for it as God moved through him with His own aching heart. Jeremiah 15 is atypical of the "weeping prophet's" dilemma of standing in the gap between God and the nation of Israel. The prophet has been shut up in prison by evil King Manasseh and the Lord is pronouncing the king's and his rebellious nation's doom. In verse 10, Jeremiah cries out to God and says, "Woe to the mother who bore me" and began his complaint to God for even being borne to such a grievous task. God quickly stops Jeremiah and states that He has a higher, nobler call for the prophet rather than languishing in a prison. The Lord stated that He would set Jeremiah "... free for purposes of good." Beyond that, God stated that Jeremiah's enemies (the ruling class of Israel) would humble themselves to the prophet when Jerusalem was besieged from without by the Assyrians.
While most of us have not spent time languishing behind bars, many of us have spent years enslaved to sin and its dire consequences. While my selfishness was fortified by alcohol addiction, others suffer just as debilitating "prisons" in their own lives. Jesus said, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed". Following this freedom comes the very ambassadorship that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 5:20 where we have the privilege of representing our Lord and helping others be free from a similar "prison". I take my "ambassadorship" very circumspectly to the men at the local mission where I volunteer. I continue to build friendships with these men because they know that I too have come from a similar background of homelessness aggravated by addiction. When I share the Word with these men once a month in chapel, they understand and relate. Truly, if I were a Japanese ambassador for our country, I would not be as comfortable with an interpreter as I would be knowing the language and communicating directly. Truly, I know these men's "language" when it comes to the heartaches of what sin produces in its many manifestations. Even as in Jeremiah's time when the rulers came to him and released him from prison and sought his advice regarding Israel's onslaught, so even today those who are truly set free from sin will experience those who once were hostile to the Gospel actually coming, asking, "What shall we do to be saved?"
Then, there are those who are so duped by the enemy that they haven't a clue that they are still in their own prisons of sin. There are countless folks who have attempted to turn this scripture around and try to do "good" through lives of giving and helping others to balm their conscience and to gain their salvation. While there are numerous noble works of charity being accomplished by millions throughout the world, it all means nothing in the light of eternity if they do not know the Lord. Jesus said in John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He [the Messiah], you will die in your sins." Jesus Christ offers a way out of our prison pits of hopelessness. Then, He will equip us to do good.
For those of us who know the Lord, let us ask this question of ourselves: "What is our personal message to a dying world around us? Is our ambassadorship being received in a noticeable way? Are others understanding that our lives were once sin-stained and without hope until we came and laid them at the feet of Jesus? Friends, he has commissioned all of us to GO and to be His ambassadors to a dying world. We were not saved to be safe and content, but to pour out our lives even as Christ poured out His. If we are not giving, we are truly dying inside. What are the "purposes of good" that God wants you to accomplish today? If we have not experienced and known that He has truly set us free from the dungeon of sin and despair it is unlikely we will feel much compelled to be a thankful people ready to do His will. May we all understand that He brought us all out of treacherous rebellion to Him and into a place where we can lead others to His pastures of delight!
Father, allow us the gift to look beyond ourselves. Grant us Your heart for others. Equip us to do Your will as we humbly submit our lives for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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"Beyond Ourselves" was first published on April 13, 2008