I wrote this on my personal blog back in April and have sat on it for reasons I can't quite articulate. I've never written and shared something so personal without years or adequate time passing that I felt confident I would convey my emotions and glorify God in a satisfactory manor. It if wasn't for my precious husband Matt and his forcing encouraging me to publish this and put it out there, I'm not sure I would've ever done so. I think in doing this, I'm coming to terms with the fact that my life isn't pretty. The more I think on this the more I'm relieved that it isn't, because that makes the splendor and work of Christ in my life all the more evident.
It’s been nearly three months since I made up my mind to run shamelessly after Jesus no matter the cost. The decision to let go of all the things in my life I felt were acting as stumbling blocks and keeping me from fulfillment in Christ has been to my absolute benefit. I came to Jesus in a state of brokenness and dejection, desperate for Him to sift me. I had to humble myself in so many ways and submit to Him in ways that were new and unfamiliar to me, and there would be zero room for BS during this time. My sight was fixed and it was fixed solely on Jesus. Kneeling before Him, bearing the intense weight of lifelong strongholds, He began to lift them off of me one by one. In return for the broken and weighty offering I placed on the altar, He has given me a treasure more valuable and worth keeping than anything this earth could ever produce. What I’m experiencing with Christ is not exclusive to me. I have not cracked any secret religious code or won some spiritual lottery. Nor do I think myself “holier than thou”. If you know anything about my past and the filth from which I come, you understand how outrageous it is that God would even glance my direction, let alone look upon me with love and intent. No, what I’m about to share with you and the lengths to which Christ has gone to set me free and establish His truth in me is as readily available to you as it is to me.
My mind was a warzone. The ongoing battle for freedom from the enslavement of it has turned into the fight of my life. A fight I have been purposefully prepared for by my warrior King. Together, we have been battling against the enemy in ways I could never have imagined. I have been trapped in prisons and bondage my entire life due to the things that happened to me when I was just a child. Now, ten years into my relationship with Jesus, I reached the point where I wasn’t going to be OK drifting through life as a saved woman who was still bound to a mind full of sin. Don’t get me wrong, my salvation is of the upmost importance to me and God is not required to do a single thing beyond it, but I don’t want the fame of His name to stop there, and neither does He. I have been saved these past ten years, but I haven’t been satisfied. And this needed to change. I couldn’t live another day knowing I wasn’t doing everything within my God-given power to break away from these strongholds and claim victory over the areas of my life which I’ve never had peace. In these few months, my life has been rocked to the core. I don’t know where you stand with spiritual warfare but for me, it’s been something I’ve come up against since the moment I accepted Christ. The enemy has ambushed me over the last ten years and the greatest victory he could have over me would be convincing me to stay exactly where I was—a captive to my strongholds. Although his grip was unyielding and his weapons of attack cunning, it thrills me to say that where Satan was prominent, Jesus was dominant.
Satan built a fortress of lies in the vessel of my mind. Some of these lies have served as my truth for the last thirty-five years. Although many, the mightiest and most unrelenting of these strongholds was anger. So long as I have lived and have memory of existing, I have been angry. I was angry as a child, a teenager, and an adult. Not just a little grumpy here and there but a steady flame of fury burned within me at all times. I could go from calm and collected to full on I’m-going-to-destroy-you-and-everything-in-my-path rage at the snap of a finger. I had so much anger in me that if Matt would wake up during the night and accidentally stir me or brush up against me, I would hit, smack, elbow, grunt, or yell at him, all the while remaining asleep. I slept angry for crying out loud! It was my constant, my identity. I knew it so well, hated it so much, and yet I succumbed to its power over me on a daily basis. And still I wondered how I would ever live without it. Anger often got me what I wanted and it gave me control over so many. Even though I viewed it through distorted lenses (most of the time I saw it as my most loyal and reliable companion) it made me feel awful. This was the one area of my life that I was completely convinced I would never know freedom. I had resorted to the This is just the way I am…I am an angry person and always will be, so everyone needs to accept it mentality. But God being God had come to a different conclusion in the matter and started blowing my life, my mind, and my world to pieces. I have been thoroughly examined by God before, but nothing like this. This is where I don’t even know how to explain it in a way that can do His works justice. It’s one of those situations where you encounter Jesus in such a spectacular way that you cannot help but respond. In fact, I think my bones would shatter and turn to dust if I tried to remain silent.
I withheld nothing. Every square inch of my being has been made available to Jesus. He’s had unrestricted access to my thoughts, my fears, my pride, my doubts, my insecurities, my past, my present, my heart, my everything. I have completely unearthed myself before Him. I’m not even going to pretend that this is an easy thing to do, because it isn’t. It is hard. And terrifying. I knew what remained in me had to go, but I also knew I could not rid myself of it on my own accord. Not only would I have to recognize the lies the enemy has been feeding me and I have been consuming, but also I would have to be in total agreement with God over the lies and allow Him to replace those lies with His truth. Paul speaks specifically to this in 2 Corinthians 10:4 when he says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”. My freedom comes only from Christ. I can’t think or talk myself out of a stronghold anymore than I can think or talk myself out of a straightjacket. My weapon is truth, or better yet, God’s word. This divine power coupled with the fact that I live in Christ and am in agreement with His word in every matter of my life is my ticket to liberty.
I don’t know how, without sounding like a kooky medium, to put this into terms. Instead, I’ll risk sounding like a crazy Jesus freak and explain it this way: one morning during my Bible study, I had come to the point where I was trying to recognize the lie or lies that were hinged to my anger. In this time that Jesus started revealing things to me and drawing things to the surface that I knew were tremendous hindrances in my life, but I had never been able to identify exactly what lie they were tied to. It was in this moment of exposure that I could literally feel the presence of God over me and I told Jesus that I wasn’t budging until the lie that was fiercely fastened to my anger was made abundantly clear. In what I can only describe as supernatural, my mind went absolutely still. I had a clarity of thought that I’ve never once experienced and my state of mind was something I simply cannot explain. It was here that He did it. Jesus spoke the lie to me. The lie being: I am powerless without anger. And Satan’s left hook, his most powerful and mighty hold over my life, was obliterated. The moment Satan’s lie went head-to-head with Jesus’ truth, it crumbled into a heap and Jesus, our mighty and righteous Victor, demolished my life-long stronghold. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought this would be a reality for me. In that moment I lost all composure all self-control and fell to the floor and bawled my eyes out. I have been chasing after freedom in this area my entire life for what has been to no avail. Until now.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Truth Will Set Me Free.
Gretchen Foster is unapologetically in love with Jesus, wife to her stud of a husband Matt, and their two daughters (Presley, 10 & Marlo, 5) affectionately call her mom. She is grateful to call Flatirons her church home and has been doing so for six years.