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Don’t Return

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” -Galatians 5:1

While still in CGA, the Lord called me to lead an Ambassador mission trip, which is Adventures in Missions’ high school program. A big focus of CGA is leadership, and leading a mission trip was something I had wanted to do ever since I went on the World Race. But for a long time I didn’t have the confidence that I was good enough to lead others. One thing the Lord did in my life during CGA was to show me that He loves me unconditionally and that failure is an important way we grow and learn. Therefore, it didn’t matter if I felt equipped to lead a trip. I am His child, and because of that I could be sure that He would guide me and give me the strength and abilities I needed. And if I failed (really when I failed), I knew the Lord would use it to teach me something very valuable. I never imagined I would lead a trip for high schoolers, but it was on the Race that the Lord placed youth on my heart (that’s a story for another time). So when I learned about the Ambassador program, all the individual puzzle pieces fit together and I knew it was what the Lord was calling me to do! I committed to co-leading a trip of 16 high school girls that was going to Guatemala for 10 days. Yes I was nervous, but I was also SO excited! I knew the things the Lord did in my life over the past few years could be a great way to connect with these girls and point them to the Lord! 

It’s amazing how much the enemy starts to attack you once you start truly living for God. I started reading Galatians before I left for Guatemala, and this verse really stuck out to me. Galatains 2:4 says, “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in–who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery–” (emphasis mine). The enemy is constantly trying to see where we are walking in freedom so that he can bring us back to slavery. But the thing is, he doesn’t necessarily do it in a way that’s obvious. When I read this verse, God brought to mind something someone from AIM had said a few weeks earlier. She said that animals aren’t put into cages for their safety, but actually because they are dangerous. Think of a tiger, for example. Tigers aren’t put in a cage to keep them safe; they are caged because they are dangerous. The Lord gave me a picture of a birdcage, and He told me that I used to be in a cage, and for a while that cage made me feel safe and protected. But that safety was false because I was really just too scared to live for Him and let Him guide me and provide for me, and that fear was stifling my potential and what the Lord wanted to do in and through me. 

Thankfully God showed me that there was more for me, and that, even if it was more daunting and would lead to more pain and failure, it was also SO. MUCH. BETTER. It was a life free of cages and chains and being held back! It was a life of freedom! 

Fast forward to being in Guatemala with my team of amazing girls and my powerhouse of a co-leader. I knew that leading would be hard, but I didn’t expect so many spiritual attacks. I didn’t expect to have to war so hard with and for my girls as so many were attacked by the enemy. All while facing my own personal attacks as well. I won’t go into what the girls struggled with because those are not my stories to share. But I will say the attacks were daily and they were often brutal and they were just plain hard to face! And, as a leader, you are the example. But you really only have two choices: you either run and hide or you turn to the Lord and face it with Him by your side. Being under attack yourself is one thing, but seeing people you care about being attacked is a whole different experience. I would imagine it’s like seeing your kids struggle and feeling unable to really do anything to fix it. There were definitely days when I wanted to stay in bed or just be by myself and pretend I wasn’t in charge of anyone else. I wanted to run back to the cage and act like all the difficulties didn’t exist. Yet I couldn’t do that. Looking back at my own life and my own struggles with anxiety and depression and insecurity, I can see how the Lord had been preparing me for this trip. Because He had already been teaching me that the best way to handle any struggle big or small is to go to Him in prayer and worship, claiming the authority we have because of Him, I could now impart that onto these girls. I could also stand in the gap when they were too far in the pit to do it themselves. So that’s what I did, or at least tried my best to do. I will say that it was not easy and I didn’t do it perfectly. And many days I felt like I wasn’t doing enough as a leader, wasn’t leading these girls well. The insecurity that had enslaved me for so long continued trying to control me again. Thank the Lord for my awesome co-leader who is one of the biggest prayer warriors I’ve ever met! 

During our week in Guatemala, I continued to read through Galatians, and I know the Lord had me in that book for a reason. Almost daily He reminded me of the freedom I had in Him and urged me not to return to the cage that had once held me captive. He spoke to me about being a Promise Keeper. He reminded me that I am His daughter and an heir to the Kingdom, someone He sees and knows deeply. And He taught me about keeping in step with the Spirit by seeking His guidance and direction, dying to myself, choosing new life, persevering, being obedient. 

He also gave me another picture of a bird, this one flying high above rivers and mountains. And while giving me this image, He told me that He is flying with me. He said He will teach me to walk in freedom, teach me to protect myself, teach me how to find provision. If that is true, and I know it is, why would I return to a life of living in a cage? Why would I hold on to the keys that unlocked the chains of things that held me back, living in fear that they might return and I might need the key again? I declared then, and I will declare it again now: I will not return to bondage! 

Since returning from Guatemala, I have had to declare that more than once. The attacks are different now, and I’m not leading a team, but there are still challenges and struggles. There are still times where the cage tries to lure me back under pretense of false security and ease. And there have been times where the lies seemed true and I’ve almost given in because fighting is hard. So, once again, I claim Galatians 5:1, I stand firm, and I declare with quiet confidence, 

“I will not return!”