Burn sinful bridges. –Mark Batterson, The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto, Chase The Lion
Okay, so I know that when Mark Batterson says, “Burn sinful bridges.” he is wanting us to deal with our patterns of sinful behavior. And, he’s right. We all need to address ourselves to those.
But, if you’ll just grant me a little grace, I would like to take a slightly different tack on this challenge–because when I hear these words?
I immediately go to those “windmills” in my head.
So, yeah, like that.
Bridges built by others
If you have ever done hand-to-hand combat with depression? Believe me when I say, “You are very familiar with those, ‘windmills in your mind!'”
Yet… stepping back from the cave of depression for a moment–let’s all fess-up to the truth–that we all carry around some baggage from our past due to the sinful words and actions of others.
And even though we have forgiven those who have wronged us, let us at least be honest enough to admit, it is “the forgetting” that can pose the major challenge.
The power in God’s Word
Once you are resolved to forgive, you know it can be done even if you have to do it in layers.
I remember a pastor once saying, “Forgiving can be like trying to climb a mountain made of glass.” But if you are determined, you know you will get there, eventually.
The forgetting? For that, I confess I often need to connect to a power source that is greater than my own determination.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe unswerving determination will get me started. But if I am depending on my own strength for my determined hold on transformation? I’m sunk!
I only need to reference my past “New Year’s Resolutions” to know how that kind of determination will turn out.
But, if I am depending on something more powerful than just me? Like the Word of God for instance?
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! Hebrews 12: 2 TPT
Then I believe, I can overcome the power of my past to influence me for harm, and now I know, I have an even greater chance for victory!
Knowing my “calling” has a certain purpose.
My “calling” came in two parts:
The first part was easy, both to discern, and to do: “Comfort, yes, comfort my people,” says your God. Isaiah 40: 1 TLB
In my heart, I knew two things for sure: God had given me “the gift of encouragement and teaching” [ 1 Cor. 14: 3] as revealed by multiple spiritual gifts tests.
So I knew God wanted me to write. That was the easy part.
When God says, “I want YOU!”
The second part of my “calling” was not so easy, because I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life.
When God commissioned me to be a, “wound-dresser?” It seemed absurdly impossible, since I was struggling to believe and hope for myself and now, God wanted me to give away His hope to others? How could someone with all my baggage do this?
But, believe me, you KNOW when God is calling you for His purpose because His presence not only feels tangible, but it is as if the words you are reading from your Bible are supernaturally being engraved on your heart!
“See my servant, whom I uphold; my Chosen One in whom I delight. I have put my Spirit upon him; he will reveal justice to the nations of the world. He will be gentle—he will not shout nor quarrel in the streets. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair… “I the Lord have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will guard and support you, for I have given you to my people as the personal confirmation of my covenant with them. You shall also be a light to guide the nations unto me. You will open the eyes of the blind and release those who sit in prison darkness and despair.“ Isaiah 42: 1-7 TLB
Owning the power of my choices
It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
(You choose to consent.)
I also love this quote by Emilie Barnes who wrote about her memories growing up with an abusive and alcoholic father:
“I had to decide WHO would have power over me.”
We do have a power to choose.
We may not be able to control what others say or do–but we have a shield called FAITH, and a SWORD called The Word of God, so we are not powerless, or defenseless! When the enemy of our souls slithers up to “remind us” of devastating things that have been said or done? We can turn our heart’s focus again to the words in Hebrews 12: 1-3:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” [The Message]
That, my roaring eagles? That, is how you choose to burn down the power of the sinful bridges others have tried to install in your life!
You make a deliberate choice.
Walking the tightrope
I agree it sometimes feels as though God has me walking a tightrope–because I know my calling is to encourage with hope; binding up fresh wounds; shining the light of God’s truth into places of dark despair. But, I also know I need to build “a road” of trust and authenticity–to remove the debris of doubt and disbelief wherever I can–speaking with transparency about my own experiences.
This is how Jesus balances my forgiving and neutralizing my painful past to cripple me, with an ability to give help, and hope to others.
It does feel like a balancing act–letting God redeem the past–without allowing the past to control my own present wellbeing and choices.
And in the end, it is absolutely Jesus who transforms those sinful bridges others built, into a road of compassion, hope, and understanding for others.
I walk the tightrope because I know that if God “called me” there? He will “keep me” there.
I do want to burn any bridges the enemy might use against me. But, I also want to build an authentic road–for others to find their own way to hope and healing.
This is my calling.
Walk out of the gates. Get going!
Get the road ready for the people.
Build the highway. Get at it!
Clear the debris,
hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
“Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
prepared to complete what he promised.’”
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
Isaiah 62: 10-12 The Message