by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
On Saturday, February 18, Set Me Free Ministries had the privilege of holding our second annual You Are Loved event at the Lydia House at Omaha’s Open Door Mission. After leaving last year's event in complete awe of God and how He moved in the women in attendance, we immediately knew we wanted to go back. We were thrilled when the Lydia House agreed. We are even more thrilled that You Are Loved has officially become an annual gig.
As we approached Saturday, our excitement built as we anticipated what God had in store for us this time around. Well, this year was no different. Throughout the day, we were blessed to see women being set free before our eyes. There is perhaps no sweeter sight than women kneeling before the cross as they surrender to Jesus.
As many of you already know, my sister Stephanie and I officially launched Set Me Free Ministries in January 2008, which means we just celebrated our fourth anniversary. As many of you also know, we use a graphic of a broken chain on all of our marketing material. It has become our logo of sorts. But even if you've seen it on our website and Facebook page and event programs, have you ever stopped to really think about what that broken chain represents? Well, I'd like to tell you what it represents to us.
See, we all wear chains, and everyone’s chain looks a little different. What does your chain look like? Maybe you carry large, heavy chains that weigh you down to the point that you can hardly move anymore. You may feel like everyone around you can see every detail of your chain and knows what each link is made up of. Others of you may have smaller chains that you feel like you can hide, maybe you try to keep them very close to you. That way, no one can see your chain. To the outside world, you can still appear to have it all together, but in reality, thin as it may be, that chain is so tightly wound around you that you find it hard to take even a step without getting tripped up in it all over again.
You may have a single chain that is so long you don’t even remember where it began or how it started. You may have so many chains that you’ve lost count. Maybe you've given up hope and decided to air your chains out for all to see, because you just don’t care anymore. Or, maybe you are desperately trying to conceal them, unable to bear the thought of anyone knowing what your real struggles are.
But whatever your chains look like, I know this to be true. There is nothing you can do to rid yourself of them on your own.
Oh, you may have tried. Maybe you thought if you just took control of your life and started to do the right things your load would lighten. But then, maybe slowly at first, your chains would start to weigh you down again. Maybe you thought that you could simply drown out the pain of your chains through alcohol or drugs or food. But the pain always returns, only heavier than before. Maybe you thought you could unload your chains on someone else—it could be a friend or a family member or maybe even a significant other. But this type of chain is one no human can bear.
So, despite the attempts you’ve made to free yourself, you’re always left back at square one—bearing the weight of your burden alone. And although that is a scary realization, I have some good news for you. I know the One who CAN free you from your chains. His name is Jesus.
See, in His great wisdom, God sent His Son to earth in the form of a tiny baby named Jesus. That baby would grow into a boy and then a man, and that man–the Messiah–would become a great teacher. Jesus taught His followers to love others, to follow God the Father, and to repent of their sins. In return, Jesus promised us eternal life. In John 11:25–26, He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
When Jesus died on the cross, He became the final sacrificial lamb. And when He rose from the dead three days later, He secured a place by His side in heaven for those who follow Him. In Matthew 16:24–26 Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
So? What about you? Do you know the One who can set you free? If you don't, what are you waiting for? The Bible tells us that we can't earn our way to heaven. Salvation is a gift, and it's yours for the taking. All you have to lose is your chain that binds you, and you have everything to gain.