Sorry for the all caps, but that word really gets to me. It is a word for modern poets--a word that screams complexity and nuance. Sadly, it's a word that often describes me.
Don't get me wrong. I am not being held against my will, or bound or chained by an external force. What frequently holds me captive are my thoughts. Thoughts about failures and screw ups. Thoughts about misplaced words and unbridled emotions. Thoughts about rushing in, not using wisdom, making choices in my flesh. Thoughts about missed opportunities for God's glory, offending others, and choosing sin. These are the things chains are made of.
Even in captivity, there can be growth. One of my favorite missionary stories is Bruchko, the fascinating biography of Bruce Olson. As a passionate young (20-something) man, Olson heads to South American, literally wanders into the jungle, and is captured by vicious tribesmen who have murdered every other white man who strayed into their territory. When they find Olson, he is deathly ill. In a strange twist of homicidal maniacs turned hosts, they bring Olson back to their compound to recover. They give him water and basic sustenance while Olson fights off raging fevers and physical upheaval. They put him up in a ragged hammock, and go about their daily lives. Olson is conscious, but miserable. While swinging in that ragged hammock, he begins to learn their hitherto undeciphered language. He starts to understand their phrases and speech patterns. One day, when he has regained enough strength to speak himself, Olson uses those phrases to tell them about Jesus. Dozens of tribe members become Christ followers!
God works, even in the bind of captivity. In every season and circumstance, our Enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy by planting lie-traps in our path. Think bear trap here--big jaws that grab us and painfully hold us. Satan plants lots of lies, then seeks to capture our attention, heart, confidence, and identity in them. In Luke 4:18, Jesus says he has come to set the captives free. That's all of us who lie bleeding, stuck in a lie-trap! How do you find freedom from captivity? Here are three things that will lead to freedom:
Identify the stuff of your chains. What holds you captive? Are you dealing with truth in this place, or emotion? Is there a besetting, habitual sin here? An addiction of some sort? Have you been bowing down to an idol of legalism or perfectionism? Define your chains--what they are, how they formed, and what they do to you in terms of emotions and lost opportunities.
Who holds you captive? What kind of voice is speaking to you? If you read the Gospels, it is easy to hear what Jesus' voice sounds like. He calls sin what it is, but he does not undermine the identity or personhood of others. He sees them for who they can be and not just what they are. He wants those he encounters to have abundant life. If the voice you are hearing speaks lies to you, and undercuts your calling and purpose, that is not the voice of Christ. Whether that voice echoes through voices from your past, or self-deprecating judgments you hear each day, identify it. Tell the voice of your Enemy to shut up and go to hell (that is where he belongs).
Bring this battle to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 10 tells us to take our thoughts "captive" to Christ. In a beautiful irony, Christ delivers us from the lie-traps that bind us, and HIs blood covers the pain and brokenness they cause when we bring them to Him. Taking our the emotions and thoughts that bind us captive to Him gives us true freedom.
Jesus is the way, and He provides the true path out of captivity. I pray you experience His freedom today!