Carry Freedom

by Courtenay Bowser
Jul/Aug/Sep 2011

About a year ago, I was in prayer with a group of female missionaries and I saw a picture that has been emblazoned on my heart. It was a group of women coming up over the crest of a hill. There was smoke behind them and it looked as though an intense battle had taken place. They were pressing forward up the hill, keeping in perfect unity with one another. They looked disheveled, battered and dirty. They were wearing white dresses, but they were tattered and torn from the battle. The women were carrying heavy chains over their heads. I could feel their sense of victory. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me, “The chains are not their own. They are the chains of those they delivered on the battlefield – THE DELIVERED HAVE BECOME THE DELIVERERS.” I heard that last line over and over again.

As I pondered this vision, many things struck me as important, especially considering the state of young women in our world and the role of the church in reaching them. First, I realized the women I saw each had her own story. At one point, they had been the ones in chains and had experienced Christ’s deliverance.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36, NIV). Jesus was predicting what was yet to come. He was going to set us all free through His death and resurrection. In the moment that He said, “It is finished,” the slaves became God’s children! Jesus did not just deliver us; He delivered us and changed our entire status. He made us sons and daughters. As believers, once we have a revelation of this freedom that Christ purchased with His life, we understand that NOTHING can keep us bound.

Every one of us has walked our own journey – “life” has happened to us. There have been ups and downs, abuses and tragedies, successes and failures, and these have often left us bound in so many different ways. As believers, it is essential that we begin to surrender these areas to Christ and drop our ropes and chains. Not denying our story, but transforming it into a weapon. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11, NIV).

The Women Had Their Own Story

Another thing that struck me about the women in my vision was that they were not afraid to show their scars. My friend, Pastor Leisa Nelson says, “Your scars qualify you.” She says others need to see they bear the same scar that you do. They also need to know how you found healing.

The world does not need an army of women wearing masks, pretending to be something they are not. Paul writes, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:7-8, NIV) Jesus was not afraid of our failure, our sin, or our weakness. In fact, He ran right towards it and gave His very life for it.

He is not shocked by our inadequacies. We tell ourselves we must be prettier, smarter, more successful, more outgoing, have more friends, fail less, achieve more, become a better mom, be perfect! Young women all over the world are tormented by such lies. When we are unable to attain these things, a sense of utter failure sets in and we want to hide our weakness.

If Satan can keep us hiding our fears, failures, and inadequacies, we will stay treading water in one place, never moving forward. The young women around us need to see the reality of our struggles and trials. They know all too well their own failures, and if, when looking at the church, they only see the perfect happy face, what do they have to hope for? We must give them hope in the midst of the pain!

When Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV); it was not because the church was acting like everything was fine when it was not. The church was in massive trial and turmoil. Earlier in the same book he encourages them, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV). Things were incredibly difficult, but they were hoping in the Lord.

When the young women around us see our trials, our struggles, or our challenges and we are willing to show our scars, it gives them hope! It says, “I’ve been where you are and I can help. Let me tell you my story. Let me share my struggles even now. Let me show you the Healer.”

The Women Showed Their Scars

The third point that struck me about the army of women is they were not afraid to get into the battle for others. I saw them coming up off the battlefield, but at some point, they had to face their original fear of even going into the battle. Every one of us reaches a point in our walk with Christ where we cannot sit idly by and just watch any longer. Something within us wants to act – this is a crucial moment. This is a moment where vision is born, where the heart of God beats hard in our chest provoking us to reach out to those He loves.

This is the same moment where every fear comes washing in, doubt rears its head, and each past failure begins to scream our name once again. “Unworthy, inadequate, incapable,” and on and on the voices go. They will say anything to keep us from believing and acting – believing that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong,” (what a great prerequisite, I think I qualify!) and acting on the idea that we “are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”(1 Corinthians 1:27, 1 John 4:4, NIV).

I believe the church is full of women, myself included in recent years, who are afraid. We are afraid of failing again. We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of making fools of ourselves. Unfortunately, it simply reveals how much we have yet to learn of His unfailing love. Our success is not based on our capability. It is based on Him.

Agape love is a mind-boggling thing. I believe humans are incapable of it outside of the Spirit of Christ. That’s why Jesus had to create a way for His spirit to live within us. Through the mystery of the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” a miracle of love takes place (Colossians 1:27, NIV). It is only by this miracle that we can love enough to overcome fear. His perfect love can push back the fear in our own hearts, if we let it. Then, through us, that love can do the same for women everywhere.

Who does your heart break for? What issue, place, or situation evokes a response from your heart (not just your mind) every time you hear about it? Take action! I realize we associate “battles” most easily with men, but the world is full of young women being held captive by the forces of this world. The women of the church must be willing to help them! Get out on the battlefield and start fighting to set the captives free.

The Women Were Not Afraid to Go to Battle

The last thing I noticed about the women is that they were overcomers. Their dresses were torn and tattered. They were dirty, disheveled, and battered, but they were carrying the chains! The chains of those they had set free on the battlefield.

There are many battlefields facing young women all over the world today. It may be eating disorders, obesity or depression/mental illness. For some it’s human trafficking, prostitution and pornography, or maybe HIV/Aids, no water, and lack of education. For others it’s drugs, alcohol, and abuse, or maybe it’s materialism, the love of money, and the allure of fame. These are all battlefields where beautiful young women made in the image of God are suffering spiritual fatalities every day.

If an army of women is going to arise out of the church, we must be finishers! We must “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” (Philippians 3:12, NIV). We want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2nd Timothy 4:7, NIV).

How do we do this? We stay on our face before the Lord. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV). It is not about our strength. It is about Him. The closer we draw to Him, the more His strength becomes obvious in our weaknesses.

Fighting for the lives of young women all over the world is simply loving them, and doing whatever it takes – whatever it takes - to be able to demonstrate that love to them. To cup their faces in our hands and say, “He loves you.” To wrap our arms around them and say, “He finds you beautiful.” We pour our lives out to Christ, and in turn, to young women all around us. Then, as fear is overcome and lives are healed, we are all “made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18, NIV).

The Women Were Overcomers

The delivered women of the church MUST become the deliverers. We must say to the Lord, “Wherever you lead I will follow, wherever you send me I will go.” You may find yourself in the next pew at church helping a friend “remove her mask,” or in Thailand loving trafficked girls. You may wake up to an elementary class of children needing a real hero, or may sit at a pregnancy crisis center holding the hand of a young teenager – whatever battlefield you end up on, remember this:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31,35, 37-39).

And, once you’ve remembered, fight the good fight and walk off the battlefield with chains held high…the delivered will have truly become the deliverers.
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Courtenay Bowser Courtenay Bowser is an author and co-founder of Ignition Point Ministries. Magazine Issue

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