Sunday, January 1, 2017

Free in 2017

It's been a few years since I made any resolutions as many people do.  New Year's Day is a time to refresh, to start over, to move forward from the year past and look forward to what is to come.    Granted, this is something we should be doing daily anyway, but New Year's Day is a day that most everyone seems to set aside for big changes and resolutions.

Generally speaking, when I decide it's time for a change, my resolution starts that day.  Some things I've decided to work on are my excessive sarcasm, personal time and bible time with God, playing on the floor with my children, reading more, speaking words of life instead of words of death, and getting back in the grind with my health.  I'm hoping that soon, I'll have more energy and less fatigue because I'll be better about getting more iron on a regular basis, and I will get back to where I was with working out, because I love and miss it.

Those things were all decided upon in 2016, so they're not really New Year's things.

Today, though, I chose a word.


One of my best friends has chosen a word of the year for a few years now, and she's shared it publicly.  Each time, I have admired her for doing so, and thought it was inspirational. I've seen others join alongside her, choosing words, themes, mottos, and Bible verses that they plan to live their life in accordance to for the course of the new year.  

Up until today, I really haven't had the urge to join. It just hasn't felt right.  I've never been able to choose a word that seemed to make sense.

In church this morning, I was singing in worship, to the song "No Longer Slaves."  It is a song that has been powerful and resonated with me each time we have sang it, to the point where I've written it out for myself at home more than once, downloaded it on my phone, and sang it throughout the apartment multiple times.  But this morning, it hit me harder, and made even more sense to me.  Instead of the just relating and finding the opening verse beautiful and applicable for me personally and how God often talks to me through song, the chorus struck me.

"I'm no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God."  The bridge proclaims, "You split the sea so I could walk right through it.  My fears were drown in perfect love.  You rescued me so I could stand and sing 'I am a child of God.'"

Slavery.  Fear.  

Last year, as the years before, had it's share of rough patches and emotional rollercoasters, dark valleys, high peaks, and personal discovery.  My marriage was legally dissolved, and I wrestled for months with that realization.  In the fall, I took the Cleansing Stream course at church, and found bondages breaking left and right, freeing me mentally and emotionally from countless years of baggage, chains, and scars.  

I found myself evolving into the strongest woman that I have ever been, I think, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I've lived another year out in faith, anchored by hope, trying to trust, trying not to worry, trying not to fear.  

This morning, our pastor was talking about New Year's changes, much as I have already written about.   As he was talking, I heard the still, small voice saying, "Nicole, you're free. You're free. YOU ARE FREE."

I've known it.  I've known it for a long time, years, months, weeks, days.  I've known in theory, and I've felt it increasingly over the past couple months since walking through the Stream.   But this morning, I really felt it.  And I knew that this year, I had a word.


God has freed me from my bondages.  He has won every battle (for me, for my children, for my family, for my friends, for everyone, really).  He bought it by his blood. I've known it all along.  But today, I could see it.  I could see that I am not who I was last year in yet another way. As our pastor was talking about looking back and how we can't dwell in the past, but have to move forward, I realized that the past woman was worried and feared things that I had no control over quite frequently- more frequently than I realized at the time.

This year, I can see there are big things ahead.  I closed out the last year by opening up doors I never imagined would be in front of me already, if ever, and I took a leap of faith in doing so.  I prayed fervently, thought deeply, and trusted in God that no matter what decision I was making in that hallway, He would be alongside me and He had it all under control for me and my children, no matter what.  I chose to believe in life over death, and in doing so, I chose not to fear and not to worry.

I stood there in church this morning, seeing how, as many times in the past, I could be sitting here, worrying away the minutes, afraid that things could and would fall apart, placing my trust in and investing solely on the will of man instead of the sovereignty and protection of God.

Instead, I realized I'm free. I have finally accepted my freedom.

My word- free.

My word and my goal are perfectly stated in the verse I've chosen for my year.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1

My personal spiritual, mental, and emotional challenge for this year, summed up by the word "free" is to fall back on God, to stand firm in my salvation, firm in my faith, and to not let the enemy entice me back into my bondage.  I need to keep my eyes forward, walking in my freedom.

I am free.

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