Ransomed! The word shouted at me from the tattooed forearm of a young woman reaching across the counter at a coffee shop to give me my latte and my change.
“Tell me about your tattoo,” I said. Her eyes became guarded, and she casually brushed my request aside. With no other customers waiting in line behind me, I stood there with an encouraging smile.
With some reluctance, she told me that early in her walk with God she had doubts about whether God knew her personally. One day she asked Him to show her what she meant to him, and she believes He led her to Isaiah 43:1. “I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” She was so moved that she went immediately to the tattoo artist next door and asked him to give her a permanent reminder – inked from wrist to elbow: Ransomed.
“That’s a beautiful story!” I said. But she slipped back into shyness and mumbled, “Not everyone understands. Sometimes I just feel kind of dumb talking about it.” And she walked away.
I know that feeling.
Ransomed. Set free. Believing it so much that I want to write it in big black letters for everyone to see.
But then pulling back. Allowing something to keep me from stepping out boldly into the ransomed life I long to live. Slipping back into the shadows. Quietly closing the door God has opened for me and returning to my old familiar way of living.
For me, the comfortable way has always been searching for the rules to follow. I like knowing how things are supposed to work. Having an outline or a set of “how-to’s” gives me confidence. (What I would really love is a guarantee of success before I begin!) So that’s my default. That’s why I fall back into the corner of my couch. Promising myself I’ll do this new thing tomorrow. After I have more information.
At other times I get stuck in the routines and habits of my life. I stop living like I’m free and instead return to the captivity of believing that my schedule and my circumstances are keeping me from living the life God wants for me. I’ll live a new way when I have more time, more energy, more money, or fewer outside demands.
Maybe you can relate. Or maybe for you, it’s something else. There are any number of beliefs and ways of doing things that feel true and right and comfortable because they are familiar. Shyness. Believing that if you want something done, you must do it yourself. Fear of failure or misunderstanding. And on and on. Old beliefs and habits hold us tight. Doing things the way we’ve always done them, but hoping for a different result.
We balk at the unknown and make excuses or give what sound to us like valid reasons why we must stay where we are. Then we ask God to help us make the most of our barricaded rooms and underground bunkers. Meanwhile the sunshine pouring through the open door – the light of freedom – grows dimmer because we keep adjusting the opening more to our liking. But we don’t have to stay there.
We are free to push open the unlocked door and step into the adventure waiting for us on the other side.
Free to allow the reality of our ransomed lives to seep from our heads down into our hearts and out through our actions. So we can live differently. Tell our stories boldly. Love deeply. Forgive quickly. And stop letting our circumstances, fears, or old habits keep us from living with passion and energy. We can trust that God is leading us into the wide open spaces we long for.
When we say yes to God, He ransoms us. Setting us free from the laws of sin and death to live a life of hope and joy. Let’s not return to the small locked rooms of our lives, closing the door behind us. Adventure awaits! And we, my friends, are free to pursue it.
What has God freed you to do with your ransomed life today?