Watch night is an African-American tradition dating back to Dec. 31, 1862, when slaves from across the nation gathered in churches to pray and await the possibility of freedom. It started the night before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.
Those slaves waited patiently, hoping the document would be signed and loose the bonds of slavery in America. They believed their freedom was contingent upon one man. Yet, the Bible declares that Yahushua alone has the power to give us freedom: “‘Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed'” (John 8:36).
I don’t know what it’s like to be a slave in the fields, but I have had some areas in my life in which I wasn’t as victorious as I could have been. Fear, intimidation, regret, self-pity and inner pain were among my slave masters.
For years I sat on my God-given gifts and wouldn’t take a microphone, worried about what people might think of me. I allowed the fear of man to bind me with chains no less oppressive than the physical shackles that cut the feet of those dear slaves.
It’s amazing to me how we, as Christian, often fail to realize that our freedom is not contingent upon what anyone else says or thinks about us. Many of us continue to sit in churches like those slaves, waiting and hoping for the day when someone comes by to release us to walk in the fullness of our gifts and callings in God. But we need not wait any longer.
On the Brink of Liberty
Today, you stand at the brink of freedom, for your emancipation has already arrived in the person of Yahushua Mashiach/ Christ. Your Emancipation Proclamation was signed 2,000 years ago in His precious blood. Every morning holds fresh opportunities for you to reach up and realize the hope of your high calling (Lam. 3:22-23).
You and I don’t have to wait to enter into the promises of God’s liberty. Because of Christ’s blood, we are free to enjoy the privileges of sonship, which include walking in the fullness of His high calling and realizing all His benefits.
We can do all things through Yahushua who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). Neither the opinions of people nor the agenda of demonic forces can hinder us. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord (Is. 54:17).
If He’s called you to sing, sing! If you know you can preach, preach! If you can exhort, help someone! You are not bound. Christ has set you free! What are you waiting for?
Consider for a minute what it is that keeps you from walking in the place of calling and blessing you know in your heart belongs to you. How long will you sit on your gift? Your gift was given to you for someone else, not for you.
Trapped in the Shadows of the Past
Perhaps you’ve been hurt by circumstances that have broken your spirit and destroyed your confidence. As Spirit-led person, let’s forget about the woundedness of the past. Life is too short to wallow in the mud of self-pity. We’re in a war, and we’ve all been hurt.
You have to get up, brush off your knees, dry your eyes, hold your own heart together and make a difference in someone’s life. It’s only when you begin to give to others that you’ll sense the freedom God has birthed in your own soul.
Too many of God’s children sit in pews Sunday after Sunday, silenced, shut down and weighed down by regret. If you fit into this category, you’re not alone.
It grieves me to see people hiding in the shadows of a busy church, shamed and saddened by secrets from their past they wish to conceal. Christians should be restored to their place of wholeness before God so their testimony draws other people back to the Lord. Yet many of us are still trying to keep our secrects instead of giving them to the Lord.
Every valley you’ve walked through can become a bridge of blessing for someone else. Your experiences, no matter how stained with sin, give you authority and empathy to speak into someone’s life in a way no other individual could. You can look into the eyes of a person deep in sin and say: “Buddy, if He did it for me, He’ll surely do it for you. He’s no respecter of persons.”
He will turn your shadows of shame to a pathway of blessing for others. Give God those places of regret. Let Him turn them into your crown. Doing so will take getting real with yourself and others, and it will require some self-examination.
Genuine freedom will require you to get to the heart of the matter—your heart. Breaking the chains of bondage on the outside may take some deep healing inside. Don’t be afraid to seek that healing. You’ll need it to master the balancing act ahead.
God Has Need of Thee
Let the Lord reveal the endless opportunities you have to serve Him. He has given us only a few years to walk with Him in His harvest fields, so why would we want to make excuses for not helping Him reap?
Let’s forget about fear, intimidation, regret, shame and self-pity. Forget about the disappointments from the past. I know the beauty that’s in you, and I know the pain that’s there, too. God keeps every tear we cry in a bottle, but sometimes you’ve got to take your bottle and dump it out for someone else (Ps. 56:8).
Determine that you will not waste your gifts another day or even another moment. God has a great plan and purpose for your life, and all you have to do is say yes. What are you waiting for?
Serita A. Jakes