This morning I was walking on the beach and watching the dogs playing fetch in the water and running along the shore line. Oh, how they love the beach. In fact, dogs really love life. They are happy and peaceful… at least for most dogs.
Nothing seems to hinder them.
I have often wished I could be just like those dogs. Always happy. Always peaceful. Always having fun. Always living in the moment.
But that’s just NOT the reality for us, is it? We want to live, really live. We want to look forward to tomorrow. And we want to move ahead with God, doing what He’s called us to do.
Instead, we find ourselves stuck, unable to enjoy the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10).
Why is that? Well, we could label it one word: hindrance.
In today’s post, I want to quickly address this because I see it as a real problem. Jesus gave us everything we need to live a joy-filled life, but we often live on the opposite end of the spectrum – with worry, fear, doubt, and dissatisfaction ruling.
Here’s my story of a great hindrance…
When fear held me prisoner, the future looked bleak. The truth is that nervousness and trepidation captured my heart more in ministry than in other areas. During this difficult time, the vision for what God had called me to do was blurred. Hence, I struggled moving forward. I wanted to speak in freedom. I wanted to plan for the next ministry event. I wanted to get excited about serving the Lord. I wanted to focus on Him. I wanted to teach His Word without panic disorder interfering. I wanted to soar high. And I wanted to smile every day. Oh, how I longed to do so many things in ministry, but fear constrained me. Thankfully, God helped me to identify this stronghold—this bondage that kept me enslaved. Praise God that I eventually encountered freedom.
In order to break free from whatever is hindering us, we need to first identify what they are.
So, let’s examine some common hindrances. Look at the list and identify any that might be holding you back:
Abuse (past or present)
Addiction (anything that controls you)
The Apostle Paul called these things strongholds. In other words, it has a hold on your life – a hold so strong that it simply is in control. Strongholds debilitate. Another word for debilitate is incapacitate. The word incapacitate is defined in the dictionary as: “to deprive of ability, qualification or strength; disable.”⁵ In other words, when strongholds are in control of our life, we become disabled, unable to carry on with certain responsibilities.
Paul wrote about strongholds – hindrances – because he battled them, too.
But we all love good news, don’t we? It must have been a moment of extreme joy when the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul the best news ever: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25). Can you imagine Paul’s smile as he penned these words?
Can you say, “Thank you, Jesus?”
Identifying the strongholds hindering us is the first response to being free. Go before God with whatever is holding you back and lay it at his feet. Then ask Him to help you throw it off as the writer of Hebrews says:
“Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1)
Oh Beloved, God wants you on His team. God has put a call on your heart and it’s important that you move forward with Him. You can do it. Oh, how pleased God is when we follow the instructions in Hebrews.