Return with Joy

Over Spring Break we dog sat for some friends of ours. They have a black lab that is less than a year old and adorable. The last day they were with us my son put him in his kennel but didn’t close the door. The silly dog laid in that cage for a good 10 minutes whining because he wanted out so bad. We kept telling him, and showing him, the door was open, but for some reason he just couldn’t see his way to freedom.

Sounds like me sometime. Feeling trapped. Asking God for rescue. Completely missing the way of escape He’s provide. I lived like that for years. I’ll even confess, sometimes I was perfectly aware of the open door, but the comfort of my cage overruled the intrigue of the unknown on the other side of the door.

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One of my favorite verses of all time is Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have been rescued by my God. For a long time I felt like He rescued me out of a sense of duty or obligation, and then I found this verse and it pretty much rocked my world.

He rescued me because He delights in me? Really? How is that even possible? I asked that question for several years before I decided that I believed His word is true. Jesus rescued me because He delights in me. Period. Not because it is His job to rescue, or because I was so pathetic that he felt a requirement to rescue me. But because He finds joy in me.

And if you’re reading this thinking “that’s great, Keri, I’m glad He delights in you.” Can I tell you a secret? He delights in you too. Really.

If that is true, then it changes everything. Not only does it set us free. Not only does it change our surroundings. It changes our identity. We’re not cast aside trash that was picked up to make the world look cleaner. We are precious children delighted in by a God who gave everything so that we could be His.

The spacious place of rescue takes some getting used to. As much as we say we want freedom, leaving the prison of familiarity and experiencing grace and love can be scary. The longer we lived trapped the harder it is to live free. The patterns of our past are deeply ingrained in our lives and it takes time and patience to learn a new way to live. Thankfully His delight in us doesn’t stop at rescue. He promises to be faithful to complete every good work He begins in us, even if it takes a really, really long time.

And while the process often does take longer than any of us would like, if we stay surrendered something happens… one day we wake up and realize that we’ve grown accustom to our new surroundings. Freedom is now familiar and the cage of our past no longer feels like home.

I’ve been reading Isaiah in preparation of Easter. Today I returned to one of my favorite chapters and this verse jumped out at me…

“Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 51:11

They returned. Only this time it was different. This time there was joy. Joy overtook those who He had rescued. And it didn’t matter where they were, sorrow and sighing flew away.

Does that mean that one day we will all be in a place where everything is happy and there is no sadness? Yes it does! In Heaven. But here? On this earth? I don’t think so. There will always be seasons of sadness and difficulties. But in the midst of those seasons there can also be joy for those He has rescued.

So, if you’re feeling trapped today, can I remind you? There is a way out. His name is Jesus. He finds great joy and delight in you. He’s able and willing to rescue. And if you’re in that spacious place of freedom feeling like you’re so out of place and don’t belong… you do belong here! He’s not finished with you. Trust the process. Trust Him. Joy is coming.

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