Tag Archives: compulsion

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There is a phrase, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Well, there are none so enslaved as those who think they deserve slavery.  I thought I was only fit to be a slave, so I saw the Gospel message as a list of assignments.  Jesus said, "if you love me you will keep my commands."  I didn't realize that Jesus was telling us to focus on getting to know Him and learning to love Him.  I thought He was focusing on behavior.  I searched Scripture to discern what behaviors God liked and pushed myself to do them: thankfulness, worship, service, evangelism, prayer, Bible reading, meditation, discipline, accountability, compassion, confession, giving, tithing, .... My duties expanded, and the weight of my shackles had me plodding more and more slowly.

I was troubled because I could see that my good actions were not coming from my heart. They were coming from obligation, not love.  Phillis Wheatley, the poet who lived much of her life as a slave, wrote, "In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance."  I could see this longing in my heart, but I tried to tell myself I was already free. My heart knew the truth. I was making myself a slave.

Three years ago, my husband and I were reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with the children.  Wonderful book! In the chapter called "The Singer," Sally Lloyd Jones said that Jesus had come to teach us a song we were made to sing:  "God made us.  He loves us.  He is very pleased with us."  Shortly after we read it, I was talking with one of my daughters.  At five years old, her eyes were already haunted with the failure I felt, and it bothered me.  I remembered the song, and I told my daughter, "God is pleased with you."  She answered in a voice of disbelief, "How can that be true?"  Her voice and words were a knife in my heart, but I struggled to answer her, because I didn't believe that God was pleased with me.

(As a side note, at that time, God gave us another name for that daughter – Anastasia, which means resurrection.  He also gave me a new verse to sing her about His love for her.  It has been wonderful to watch her eyes lose their haunted look as God has been healing me.  As I am healed, I am able to be part of God's healing of my children.)

Since them, God has been pouring the thought of His pleasure into my heart.  I don't know how many times He has breathed those words into my heart.  I do remember clearly the last time I heard them vividly.  It was a few months ago.  I was walking with a friend whom I dearly love and rarely see.  We were taking our children to the park.  It was a beautiful spring day.  Everything was glorious except one thing, my heart would not rejoice.

I tried to make my heart rejoice.  I tried to praise God.  I knew when you are discouraged, you are supposed to find something good and praise God for it, yet here I was surrounded by wonder and glory, and my heart would not let me praise.  The harder I tried to praise God for the wonder I could clearly see around me, the more my heart revolted.  I despaired.  My heart just wouldn't cooperate.  If I couldn't make myself praise God about things which were wonderful, there was no hope.  What would I do in hard times?  I was still failing God.

It was at that moment that I heard clearly, "I am pleased with you."  There was a smile in that voice.  I could hear God's pleasure in His tone, and my pressured heart sank into God's embrace.  It wasn't rebellious anymore.  It was dancing!  I could praise God when it came from my heart, and that was enough!  I didn't have to manufacture praise!  Since then, though my heart still rebels at times, I have found praise flowing from my heart more and more.

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Two years ago, God spoke to me to correct a third misconception I had about this suitor of mine.  I don't remember where I was.  I don't remember what I was doing.  I don't remember what I was thinking.  I often remember context, but it seems that this was like the pearl of great price.  What I heard God say was so startling in its truth, that my questions stilled as I tried to grasp the greatness of this revelation.

God said to me, "You think I'm a God of rape.  You think I will demand by force what you would give me freely if you loved me."  "'You think I'm a God of rape,'" my thoughts echoed.  "Oh, wow.  'You think I will demand by force what you would give me freely if you loved me.'  Wow.  That is what I think!  That is what rape is, taking by force what love would give freely.  That is what I think God is, a God of rape!"

Still my heart argued.  "But, God, would I do what is right if I weren't pushed and prodded and bribed and punished?  I only thought you were trying to push me to do what was right for my own good.  It felt mean, and I felt resentful, but I thought it was just what you had to do because of my nature.  Are you saying that if I were truly free I would choose to do what was right?  Are you saying that I could love you so much that righteousness would flow from my very nature?  But aren't I bad and sinful?  Can anything good truly come from me?"