Chain Breaker

 

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

I've spent a great deal of time since giving myself to Jesus really and truly filled with the Holy Spirit. Numerous prayers through out my day, watching multiple services weekly, playing countless worship songs, getting into scripture and actively participating with online church and zoom calls kept my cup running over.

There were still struggles, many that are shared across not only the country but around the World due to the pandemic. Things like having to homeschool teen-agers, not being able to play team sports or go to the gym, oh and the complete lack of real life social interation and it's affect on mental well-being. And yet no matter how difficult things were I always felt as though I had something extra to give. I've been fired up to serve God, to help where ever I can and to be better by taking advantage of God's goodness in me. 

And then along came adhesive capsulitis, or as it's more commonly known as 'Frozen Shoulder". 

Here's how the NHS website describes the condition - Frozen shoulder means your shoulder is painful and stiff for months, sometimes years.

Doesn't sound too serious, although the timeframe seems a little sketchy when I think about it. Let's look a little closer into that - Frozen shoulder can take at least 1.5 to 2 years to get better. Sometimes it can be up to 5 years. 

Yeah I don't like the sound of that at all surely there's  a treatment for this - Use paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain

Sure but what about actually fixing this -  It can be treated with shoulder exercises and painkillers.

Treated doesn't sound like fixed. OK, So forgive me for using a little artistic license to make this jovial because well it needs it. Physiotherapy can help get movement back along with steroid injections to bring down the swelling. But will any of these actually fix it? 

Well no not really -  But the pain and stiffness will usually go away eventually. How's that for bedside manner?

All of a sudden I was having to cope with constant pain and believe me the NHS website really doesn't convey the agony caused by even the slightest of what would be considered normal movement. It literally has brought me to my knees on several occasions. With each passing day it felt as though I was growing weaker not just physically but also spiritually. Then I noticed the voices that had been quietened recently but prevalent in my past started to get loud again.

During this time I had been invited to share a small piece of Everyday Faith for the online church service. I was originally going to speak based on the topic "Strengthen Your Heart" from James 5:1-12, however a week later this was brought forward by a few weeks and changed to the topic of "Walking The Talk" from James 1:21-27. 

Funnily enough this happened last time I contributed as well, and on that occasion it blessed me far more than the original message. I wonder what God is saying to me this time around?

"Oh wait, what's this?" - Mark Dice
To be honest I didn't wonder at all because I had disconnected from Him in just about every way that I had become so accustomed to being with Him. How did this happened, or rather how had I let this happen? Here comes the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment, the feeling of being a failure, the self condemnation. Even though I knew that none of this was what God thought of me, my heart had grown weary and my commitment to Him had all but ceased. Bet you didn't see that coming, and neither did I.

To make matters worse still I very easily reverted back to fulfilling basic human desires and readily succumbed to Worldly distractions. Just some of the ways I  wasted my time were paying attention to the news, opening click bait posts on social media, binge watching a couple different series on Netflix and I even started listening to grunge albums again (actually that's not a bad thing). And all this was washed down with alcohol and painkillers. 

The situation I found myself in wasn't an unfamiliar one, but the shock of it happening right now after having been so blessed floored me. I couldn't bring myself to take part in Life Group or watch the church service on the Sunday. What right did I have to speak about "Walking the Talk" now? 

And then I picked up the Bible and read James 1:21-27. In less than five minutes I knew this was a temporary season, sure I had fallen short but I could pick myself up again. My strength and hope returned, and the answer had been there all along.
James 1:21-27 (NIV)

21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I made some notes before recording my message for this weekend's service, but I've not watched it back before or after submitting it. I can only hope it is delivered and received in a way that can help someone else who may be in the same position I find myself. I hoped I could give a better account in written form. 

It certainly was what I needed to restart the vital habits James gives in this message - 
Accept the word of God.
Do what it says.
Help those in distress.
Keep from being polluted by the World.
So why does it feel like more of a challenge to commit to a few simple steps that will bring us closer to a God who provides solutions, who fulfils his promises? It's crazy to think that we can return to old habits, ones with a proven history of disappointment, that failed to bring us lasting satisfaction or hope or benefitted our lives or those around us. I only have to look back a short time to see the good work God has done in my life. Not through my own efforts to be good, but through his goodness in me. 

We live in a fallen world, we are born into sin but our salvation is available through Jesus Christ. No amount of Netflix and Chill, or tubs of ice-cream, or tumblers of bourbon, or Instagram feed scrolling will bring the freedom we desire. With the World feeling as polarised as it does this message is so relevant and bears repeating - Accept the word of God and do what it says. Care for those in distress and keep ourselves from being polluted by the World around us

I had my fortnightly catch-up with the vicar and it was somewhat a sheepish one from my side, but he has this way of bringing clarity out of the chaos. In amongst our discussion I heard myself repeating that I knew what I needed to do but couldn't get around to actually doing it. I had all the excuses I needed to continue on this vein and dwell in the self pity if I chose to. But like I said, I picked up the Bible. and then the next day I watched Tauren Wells guest preach at Fresh Life Church and his message was Progress is a Process

You can watch the video below and it was like he spoke directly to me and my situation when he said ​(at 26:47) "Movement is our responsibility, fulfilment is God’s responsibility."


I needed to be told again that this is a process. I needed to be told again that all things are possible with God. I am grateful for a God who forgives and who wants us to spend eternity with him. I won't let two weeks of stumbling get in the way of the righteous life that God desires for me. And at the end of the day all of this is reminding me to trust God, and to trust his provision.

The first song I played following this was Chain Breaker by Zach Williams. His songs have always resonated with me and these verses ring so very true in this situation -
If you've been walking the same old road
For miles and miles
If you've been hearing the same old voice
Tell the same old lies
If you're trying to fill the same old holes inside
There's a better life, there's a better life

We've all searched for the light of day
In the dead of night
We've all found ourselves worn out
From the same old fight
We've all run to things we know just ain't right
When there's a better life, there's a better life

(Chorus)

If you've got pain, He's a pain taker
If you feel lost, He's a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He's a chain breaker

Although I'm still in a considerable amount of pain and discomfort, I'm really doing much better and if I keep this up the next three to five years should positively fly by! But seriously to anyone who ever gets into a situation where they feel they aren't good enough, or can't be forgiven remember - get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 

Amen!

 




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