It’s April 9th and there is snow on the ground. And on the trees. On the houses and sidewalks. Everything is covered in white.
An incredible woman from the UK spoke last night at an event. She started her talk in a funny way as she described the reaction of people back home to the peculiar weather there. Months that are traditionally warm have been cold and cold months have been warm.“They’re very concerned about the weather,” she said. “Even the daffodils are confused.” Then she went on to describe a different form of climate change. All across the United Kingdom and Europe, people are coming alive to God and His love. She described story after story of transformation in the lives of people.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). For so many years, I’ve confused Jesus as someone I’ve had to live up to, someone to not disappoint. God has slowly been showing me that He’s the opposite. He comes to seek me. He loves me as I am. I just have to receive it like a gift. In my journal yesterday afternoon, I wrote to God, “Heal me. Set me free so you can go and set other people free through my life. God, I want all of you. I want more. I want as much as I can physically handle at this period in my life. Come, Holy Spirit. Have your way. Purge out all of the muck. Cleanse me. Make me white as snow. God, I want to realize how close you are. Please show me how you inhabit me. Thank you for rescuing me over and over and over.”
At the end of her talk, the speaker shared things she wished we’d be free from — things that rob us of joy and life. Freedom from comparison. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from the fear of death. For young people, freedom from the fear of discomfort and suffering. Freedom from money, as we understand that God promises to provide for us.
Then, the speaker invited the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit is God on earth. The Bible says that we are a temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit can also come and fill us over and over (Acts 4:31). So we breathed deeply and waited. My insides were stirring. One of our pastors then asked us to symbolically take a step or raise a hand if we wanted freedom. So many hands went up, including my own. My dear friend and a woman behind us began to pray for me. I started crying and the tears seemed to flow from a really deep place inside me. It was incredibly painful, but the tears wouldn’t stop. I finally regained my composure and the event ended. I sat down and more tears came. And more. And more. And more. I didn’t understand where they were coming from, but they kept coming. I finally stopped, but then got up to hug a friend and began sobbing again. “It feels like they’ll never end,” I thought. An older mentor of mine was across the room, so I went to talk to him (or cry on his shoulder, let’s be honest), but he was talking to someone so I waited. Another friend of mine walked by and asked how I was doing and I started sobbing again. She prayed for me and I finally had calm.
You know how sometimes you have to open an infected wound back up so it has exposure to air and heals? I think God did that for me last night. Wounds opened back up so they could heal. I remembered this verse in the Bible. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). That’s what happened last night. God healed me. He healed some of my most painful life wounds.
As I was processing the experience with two friends, one friend said that God knew I was ready to handle some of the pain again. He gently purged what I could handle and surrounded me with a community who could support me as I went through it. My friends told me that I also wasn’t going through that experience alone — that God was right there with me in it. I told them that He had felt very far away and they reminded me that He was closer to me than I could ever imagine. In a lot of ways, God’s Kingdom is so upside-down. It’s like the Holy Spirit went under me and pushed all the muck out and it’s gone. It’s gone now. I have peace. I feel lighter. I have been set free.
Last night as I crawled into bed, I wrote the experience in my journal. As I reread what I wrote earlier in the day, I couldn’t believe how God answered my exact prayer. Every. single. line. “Heal me. Set me free so you can go and set other people free through my life. God, I want all of you. I want more. I want as much as I can physically handle at this period in my life. Come, Holy Spirit. Have your way. Purge out all of the muck. Cleanse me. Make me white as snow. God, I want to realize how close you are. Please show me how you inhabit me. Thank you for rescuing me over and over and over.”
And this morning, as I woke up to snow in April, I can’t help but ask myself if there’s a climate change in Chicagoland. I wasn’t the only one freed last night. Something is shifting in the air as God is setting His people free. Today, I want you to know this freedom can be yours. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as my experience (God knows your heart and knows what you need), but you can ask him to set you free. You can ask Him for more. You can ask Him to show you His love. He delights in you. He loves to walk and talk with you. He loves your heart and your mind. He loves that He created you. He wants to set you free from the things that hold you back and he wants to partner with you to bring that freedom to others.
So let’s go to Him and find out how free we can be.