No Longer a Slave

I looked deep into her eyes yesterday. She is just a wisp of a little girl, but holds the heaviness of the world in her eyes. She mutters under her breath about knives and death, and is constantly trying to steal more food off the platters. Yesterday it was the bread from the communion platter in the kitchen.

I wrap her up every chance I get and hold her softly against me. She looks defiantly into my face, expecting me to turn against her and use her somehow. She’s small in frame, but has learned big things about evil and pain and so she lives like an orphan grasping for crumbs of food.

As I hold her close I know the heart of the Father is winning within her. She is not an orphan, but a daughter. My arms around her are extensions of the Father’s extravagant love for her.

The three year old most often frequenting my home has felt the reality of life gone awry. When she learned to walk in a house with walls, she crashed into the hardness of them because she was accustomed to plastic tent walls. I remember walking with her towards my little apartment and her little voice chirping, “I LOVE your home!” because home to her was tiny rooms and tent walls where stress and anxiety had the last word.

Some of these children learn to live like orphans because they have been hungry and anxious and chronically afraid. When abundance fills their bellies and pockets they hoard it like pennies and wait for something dreadful to happen again. They are more comfortable with lack then abundance.

I live like that too some days.

It’s not easy to face suffering and crisis and keep trusting in abundant provision. There are 1,000s of human ways to cope, and most of us work more or retreat more while both strategies end in defeat. We learn to live like orphans when we don’t know the heart of our Father. We work harder, perform more, and build more programs living under the strain of a misplaced responsibility.

And the Father is whispering all along, “You are no longer a slave, but a son.”

On Sundays we sing with all our hearts in Farsi, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” The worship leader invites us to raise our hands as an outward sign of our changed identity. We are sons and daughters, we are no longer slaves to fear.

“From my Mother’s womb, you have chosen me. Love has called my name. I’ve been born again, into a family. Your life flows through my veins.”

I’ve been reading these words in Galatians over and over…

“God sent forth his son to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

The chronic crease on our spiritual brows has much to do with how well we know the face of our Father. When I’m running on 1% battery it is always because I have misplaced my identity. When I’m living in lack and pressured by need, it is because I am not leaning into His heart. I can live in chronic fear or lean into extravagant love. I cannot work more, accomplish more, or pray more to please him.

A sweet little girl who frequents my house is often trying to make everything better when someone is hurting. She runs for the lotion to give a massage, creates donuts from wooden toys, and lays pudgy hands on pains or illness praying simple prayers for healing. She takes responsibility for everyone’s pain and tears until her own little face is lined with worry.

I look like that too somedays. Instead of leaning into His abundance I try to work everything right side up again, but well constructed classes and programs don’t transform nations. Hard work without full power never changed the world and we can’t enter His abundance without seeing who He really is, a Father who gives good gifts to his children.

Maybe you feel like me some days, begging for crumbs when I’ve been given a seat at my Father’s table. Maybe you feel the chronic weariness, the heavy strain of working as a slave to gain approval from the Father. Can we lay it down together?

When we lay down our orphan status and receive our adoption as daughters and sons, something beautiful happens, so much like the faces of the children my sister and her husband adopted. Pensive, angry little eyes turned soft and full of laughter as they were placed in their forever home. Scattered little minds found peace in clean rooms prepared specifically for them. Not one of those three children could have done anything to convince or dissuade their parents from accepting them as their own. Because they are sons and daughters, they have a place at a table in a home where they are extravagantly loved.

Because we are sons and daughters, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, and we cry “Abba! Father!”

He has sent His spirit because we are sons and daughters.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.” {John 14}

Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans when he went back home. He sent His Holy Spirit to give us full power to face the life He called us to. We aren’t created to run on 1%, but 200% of His available power which is always more than enough to sustain us through every trial. Our hands are anointed through Him to heal the sick and sustain the weary. Our eyes are opened to the supernatural. Our feet carry us to uncharted waters where we lock eyes with him walking only by wild faith. This is the life of a child of the Father. It is a life of challenge and suffering but with perpetual reminders of the resurrection power that overcomes.

It is our orphan status that makes us critical and fearful, comparing ourselves to other orphans and coming up lacking. It is our orphan status that questions the future and ruminates about global events. It is our orphan status that allows us to retreat from suffering, or to endeavor working harder to abate it. It is our orphan status that pushes us to gain more accolades, win more human approval, or climb higher in social status. It is our orphan status that makes us bend like a reed in the wind under criticism or wallow in pride with our momentary successes.

When we are orphans we become so accustomed to spiritual lack we are afraid of supernatural abundance. When we are sons and daughters we live in supernatural abundance that overcomes every lack.

I can see the face of an ever present Father walking beside us as we struggle and strive, and He’s whispering, “You are not longer a slave, but a son. Come walk with me. Come sit at my table. Come feast on my beauty. Enter into the pleasures forevermore at the right hand of the Father.”

I’m taking His hand today as a child. Will you join me?

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