I have been witness to some pretty explosive displays of spiritual freedom over the years. During our time in fundamentalist churches, the fireworks came most often when someone reported an instantaneous deliverance from tobacco addiction. While attending charismatic congregations, I saw that the signs and wonders demonstrating God’s supernatural liberation came in lots of shapes and sizes: physical and emotional healings, freedom from spiritual oppression and all kinds of addictions, and the courage to go and do in the name of Jesus.
In every variety of church, I have witnessed abuse of this promise of freedom, usually from the presumptuous over-promising of what God is guaranteed to do for someone in need “…if only the person has enough faith”. But I have also seen God do the humanly impossible enough times to know the truth of Jesus’ proclamation to the gang at his hometown synagogue s couple of months or so after he was baptized:
…and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ (Luke 4:16-21)
When many of us think of deliverance, we think of Fourth of July fireworks: instantaneous explosions of eternity, heaven invading earth. Sight to the blind. Prison doors swinging open. Hungry people being seated at a banquet table.
Recently, a dear friend penned these words:
I always thought healing would come like prison doors flying open and me running free. But it seems to be coming slowly, link by link of my chains being broken, and sometimes I don’t even notice it until several links are gone.
Jesus’ words in Luke 4 are the certainty of both fireworks (recovery of sight to the blind) and the blinding light of a precision arc welder reforging a broken world (proclamation of the Lord’s favor). Fireworks are celebratory. If they happened every single day, they’d cease to grab our attention. We notice them because they are rare and awe-inspiring.
A welder, on the other hand, is an everyday hero – on the job working hard to create items of usefulness and beauty out of raw materials and other-worldly power.
Jesus announced the kingdom using both fireworks and an arc welder. My friend’s words have helped me look down and notice the broken links laying on the ground at my feet.
Thank you, Jesus, for setting me free, link by link.