Do you ever feel like maybe you’re ready to move, then something holds you back? You see what you want, but you’re yanked back in time and time again.
BIG Life has a mascot. His name is Tank. He’s a 130 pound yellow lab. Tank loves snacks, yoga, long walks and squirrels, oh how he loves squirrels. Every day we take Tank on a big long walk around the campus of our nearby college. This campus is literally a squirrel sanctuary and it’s like pure delight and pure torture for our Tank. We’re walking happily down the sidewalk and there sits a squirrel just taunting him with her big puffy tail. Now Tank only has so much self control and when the smell of that flirty little squirrel hits his nostrils, he takes off. And within 2 feet he’s just digging at the ground, clawing to go any further. Why? Because he’s leashed. He’s tied to his owners. And if his owners say we can’t chase squirrels, then we can’t chase squirrels.
What owns you? You’re tied to whatever owns you. You see what you want, you get a whiff of the more that’s available to you, but you can never get it if you’re still leashed.
Now Tank can’t be trusted unleashed. He’s proven his inability to stay on track so he stays leashed. How about you? Can you be trusted unleashed? Can you stay on track?
In Acts 12 we read of the King persecuting members of the Church. He had already killed the apostole James, now he has Peter in jail, remember the one who walked on water with Jesus. We pick up in verses 6-8
“The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
Peter had been chained up and he just got unleashed! Many of us have been chained up and God is ready to unleash you. Girl, are you ready to be unleashed? Unleashed from the chains that have held you back in life. Unleashed from the chains that have kept you bound to a life far short of what you were created for.
Coach Lonnie (that’s my awesome husband, the behind the scenes guy who actually makes this podcast happen every day … shout out to the man of the house!), well occasionally he steps out onto a stage and when he does, he says things that blow us all away. At one of our retreats several years ago he taught about 3 chains that hold us back. I would like to share that with you today.
First, the chain of “easy”. We settle for easy because, well, it’s easy, then it wraps tightly around our necks and chokes the life out of us. Those low expectations and cheap sell outs for the easy way leave us feeling unsatisfied, depressed and just a shell of who we could be. Where have you settled for easy, now you’re chained by easy. You now believe you’re not capable of hard things because it’s been so long since you tried, I mean really tried. Did you know every time you tell yourself you will do something and then don’t do it, it damages your brain. You’re literally giving yourself brain damage. And the easy way owns you.
Second is the chain of distractions. How easily are you distracted and thrown off course? You decide you want something, but how quickly do you give up and the commitment goes out the window? We lack focus. When you lack focus, you sacrifice your power. And so we live as weak women, incapable of change, stuck in a life we dread waking up to. Chained up. Bound. Stuck. Whew, that is NOT what God had planned for you sister. Distracted. We may be here, but are we really here? Half of my listeners right now didn’t even catch that because of distraction. It’s just our way of life, but it’s a leashed way of life. And the distractions own you.
And third, the chain of deception. We have been deceived girls. Deceived into believing we are someone we are not. Deceived into believing we are weak, we are helpless, we are hopeless. Deceived into believing this is all there is in life. Oh goodness, there is so, so, so much more. And not only is there more out there in this world, but there is MORE specifically designed for YOU. But those voices in your head that feed you with lies telling you that you can’t, that you’re not good enough, that you’re broken … those voices of deception must be silenced. That chain must be broken. Has deception owned you?
So here we are, much like Peter. Chained up in a prison cell which keeps us from living a life of freedom. I don’t want that, do you? Let me tell you something, God doesn’t want that for you either. He is here to help rescue you. To set you free.
Let’s go back to our scripture today for the 3 steps to break the chains.
First, Peter is told, “quick, get up!” and the chains fell off his wrists. Notice Peter was told to get up while the chains were still binding him. Ahhhh, he had to get up first. He had to put some effort in. He had a responsibility in his freedom. Quick get up, then the chains fell off. How often we lay around and wallow in our mess saying, “God, please help me – pick me up – set me free – change this” but we aren’t willing to first get up. What if the chains holding you back will only be broken after YOU get up. Get up when you don’t feel like it. Get up when it’s not fair. Get up when you fear you’ll be knocked right back down again. Get up. Chains don’t fall off when you’re just laying there.
Then the angel told him “get dressed and put on your sandals” and he did. Now that you’re up, get dressed. BELIEVE that God is taking you somewhere, so prepare yourself. This scripture shows us exactly how to do it. God says get up, get dressed and Peter just does it. Don’t question it. Don’t delay. Don’t make long lists and rewrite your lists. Don’t alphabetize your excuses. Just do it. Quickly. Now. When it doesn’t make sense.
You want out of the chains? You want to live unleashed? You want to finally break free? Quickly, get up, get dressed and then step 3, “follow me”. God is saying “let’s go.” If you will be willing to get up and get dressed, I’m going to take you somewhere. I’m going to help you live a life of freedom. Those chains that have held you back in the past will be broken, but you have a responsibility in this too. Let’s go. Let’s get moving.
There is no time to waste. You can’t afford to lounge around in your “giving up on life” pants. You can’t afford to take 3 rest days in a row. That kitchen can’t look like that anymore, your day can’t be wasted like this. You can’t afford to continue opting for the “easy” way. Easy isn’t going to lead you to the life you want, the life you were created for. Break that chain of “easy”.
You can’t continue to be so distracted and scattered, never really giving anything your full attention and best effort. You gotta get off your phone girl. You can’t keep hanging out with those people, they’re not going where you want to go. Break that chain of distraction.
And you can’t continue to believe the lies which tell you untruths about you. You can’t keep replaying that old story, you can’t lay there and wallow, you can’t keep throwing the same darn pity party. Break that chain of deception.
Get up, get dressed, let’s go. Unleashed. This is the life for you. Break the chains. God is about to blow your mind with the life available to you, won’t you take it?
As a child of God you have been saved for all of eternity, but here’s what most of us miss … salvation isn’t just for the moment you stand before God to be judged and are welcomed into an eternity in heaven. I mean, that’s awesome. Kinda blows my mind thinking about when my moment in time comes. But remember this, salvation is for right now too. As a child of God and follower of Jesus, you have been saved right now. This very moment salvation is yours. What are you being saved from? Your chains. Saved from living on Earth stuck in bondage. Your chains have been broken and you have been set free. This is what Jesus did for you.
Don’t you know Jesus is a chain breaker, a prison shaker, a freedom seeker and redemption giver?
Rise up, your shackles are no more. Jesus has broken every chain. I declare victory over everything that has held you back. Just because it held you back yesterday doesn’t mean it has to hold you back today. Quick, get up … and after you get up, those chains will fall. But first, you gotta get up. Pick yourself up and claim your victory. Jesus destroys every stronghold. His power working in your life can break them all.
Today is the day. The day you get up. The day you break free. The day you decide staying stuck is no longer an option. The day you understand salvation isn’t just for after you die, but it’s for right now while you live so that you can live freely and fully. May you see your chains broken today and may you step into the BIG Life Jesus came to give you.
3 chains: The chain of easy, the chain of distraction, the chain of deception. 3 steps to break those chains: Get up, get dressed, let’s go. You were made to be an unleashed chain breaker!