A rock rests on a small table next to a leather-lined recliner in my bedroom. A curse is scrawled on one side in drab gray paint: captive. Its chipped letters tell a story of fear, common and stifling. My husband gave it to me years ago, and I still pick it up often for the invitation to overcome written in glitter on its other side: adventurous. What once held the weight of granite has become as a pebble to overturn; an ancient lie effortlessly exposed by the flip of a rock.
This rarely seems simple. Regardless of what curses might be etched in the stones of our experience, exposing them to truth requires something other than what we often employ as a futile effort to excavate them. Rolling our sleeves, we strain and pry and gasp and lift again. Yet, we will never excavate these DNA-deep accusations. They have been inherited along with all our other vital stats, clinging as nagging whispers and outbursts of despair and, at times, grandiose hubris.
Rather, an ability to see a curse for the poison it is comes by holding it up to the light of God’s testimony much like an x-ray to examine its root as bones. Do the words and their implied message belong to the truest story as part of the promises God declares over us as his treasure? If they bear no resemblance, they have no claim to us and can be wholly rejected no matter what or who have spit them at us.
To brave the exam, recognize the lie and boldly evict it takes deep faith which is not strength mustered but let go as tenacious confidence, a deepening awareness of heaven drawn round its trembling creation. It has not a goal to reach an endpoint but to become more engaged in the abundant life that exists in the center of each moment, curse-scars still lingering but only as puckered tissue long healed for the salve of something greater.
Right here, right now, in this very breath and the one just next lives a secret wisdom revealed, the truth once manifest in human form and now recounted by endless tongues and signs. Freedom has come. Do we live as captives freed or do nagging curses steal our attention as burrs in soft flesh?
The trust needed to live victorious is startling and often uncomfortable. In fact, an assembly of one million Israelites repeatedly pleaded to return to familiar captivity rather than spend themselves in obedient faith (Num 14:1-4). Yet it is not slavery but surrender that promises safety, and a careful heart produces a carefree soul:
“Be careful to obey my laws and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.” (Lev 25:18)
Sadly, we tend toward the careless when we reject the relief of rescue to save ourselves as we create elaborate facades of order yet still silently flail about as in a quagmire, the rock never turned to reveal a triumphant promise on its other side.
The greatest gift we can give is to love someone anyway, to invite her into greater freedom, a truth telling in the face of her captivity. When we are careful to love this way, curses crumble, wounds heal and feet run wildly free.