“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
Romans 8:5-8 (NIV).
Being Set Free
by Gerald T. Ching
FIRE: In fear, anger, sadness and rebellion my soul whimpered, screamed and cried out while surrendering to God. Through the constant filling of His Holy Spirit and the unending lavishing of His grace, I am learning to let go of my addictions.
[origins: the battle begins]
1. Across the land, powerful ebony monoliths jut from the charred surface of this existence. A new star, a glimmering beacon melts into the rising sun. Anxiously chattering, nervously hacking at possibility, freedom seekers ascending from the pit, bitterly deliberate. They claw at their lethargic minds, sharpening that which has been dormant since the fall of Man. Their shadows drag like bags of bricks. Heaping in disarray, building a feeble, flimsy, and false foundation in hopeless uncertainty from a corrupted and demented generation, depositing and withdrawing emotional guilt-ridden baggage in hopes of a cash advance: $$$. Anxiety burns through their cables of liquid life.
2. Born unto this plane of existence unasked, brought into life unannounced, I blindly live in this world while manipulating my way through a fallen creation. Down in this deep tunnel of endless darkness, I sit and ponder this barbaric world, the bottomless pit of despair that is my life. In a vicious cycle my pain recycles itself, binding me to this world of addiction. Yearning for the release from this prison, I am forever damned to want what I cannot have. Stifled and bound, I am manacled to the rigid board of longing. I am ashen and deadened, like a still life awaiting the life giving touch of an Artist. The curse of Adam, the first fallen man, in him our burdens rested, and in him our dreams failed. Taking responsibility for sin and receiving forgiveness is an ongoing contingency that has survived since the beginning. The jealousy of Cain brought murder into the world, and through him the line of hope ended in destruction. Beginning with Seth who replaced Abel, men began to call on the name of the Lord, and the line of God’s faithful people began again.
3. Your peaceful Spirit shields me, guarding me from lusting bitter hearts that fiend for power, seeking to be gods. Your gentle reassuring whispers speak of another life, one without pain, one full of peace, one that I long to know. Together we walk through this debilitating existence with You whispering guiding truths to me, easing this burden of being lost and broken.
Clutching a pristine pellucid orb to my chest in which lays the hope of an all-consuming fire of forgiveness. Swirling love streams through the depths of this forgiveness, combining the many layers that compose its symphony. In triumphant crescendos, climactic waves rattle the chamber, threatening to burst the protective bubble. Shadowy haunts scatter; dark and grimy their vigor dissipates in the spin cycle of this cleansing. Drowning in this whirlpool, I spiral down bleached white as the plugs get pulled, draining me into oblivion.
4. Awakened by a distant light, my outstretching arms and arched back reach ever outward, with muscles straining like a rubber band on the verge of busting. Who’s there? Encompassed by a brilliant light a slight silhouette emerges emitting a radiant glow, like clashing radioactivity throbbing towards destruction. Will you hold me? Red-hot steel pins travel through every pore, a scorching sensation much like the piercing rituals that fill my days, converge at my beating core, my blacken core of life, sending tremors through my cables of liquid life. Will my mind finally rest? Stripped of my flesh, the ever-brightening light engulfs me in a sea of serenity smoothing my being like a sheet of dry ice that burns like fire. Take me, take me over the edge. The light wavers like the belly of a laughing man, the heat intensifies, and my light fades. Where am I? Who are you? What have I done? Wracked in turmoil, wringing my hands numb, shivering in the coldness that doubt brings, I start walking.
[first strike: the enemy attacks]
5. The hate monger that runs with abandon through my broken spirit shakes the foundations with his ridiculing maniacal laughter, plummets me down even further into a cocoon of seclusion. I crawl back behind the wall that divides us, hesitant to peer over the ledge again. This debilitating struggle hinders my walk, sending me crying like a newborn hungry for its mother’s breast.
6. Listen to my heart that screams with sincerity, accept my apology for the length of my exile; forgive my indifference to the longing I feel for You. Stitch my torn spirit with healing threads from Your heart. Pull me into a warm embrace and hold me longer than I am able, hold me for as long as You are able.
7. A sudden movement awakens my senses bringing forth the blinding stark reality of life. What is to become of me? Powerful forces working overtime to save the undeserving, resort to tactical maneuvers heard of only in antiquity. Something thought lost is regained, and something gained is lost again. Bombarded by the lingering words from the Holy Spirit, my present state of affairs stands in the mists of limbo. Like the riddle of the sphinx, the convicting nature of the message strikes confusion to my heart and mind. Young and restless with the knowledge of a predestined future haunting me, my actions reflect the carelessness of youth. Mature in the ways of the world, street-smart senses hinder the growing inner child of my soulful spiritual new self; the steadfast words from the transcendental Spirit forever echo in the back of my befuddled mind.
The deciphering of the riddle becomes an all-consuming task. Little by little the puzzling brain teaser starts to unfold, my feeble mind trying desperately to grasp the gist of the clues. Drained and at my wits end, the words still a riddle, a voice speaks in quiet tones with authority, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
[battlefield: between two worlds]
8. Rubbing shoulders amongst the thronging masses and feeling a subtly twisted sense of love and affection that comes from being in close proximity to others pulls the puppet strings that dangle from my troubled heart. This sensation brings me back to the days of innocence when life was truly joyous and I saw beauty abounding in all things. I am reminded of when I felt the feeling of oneness without knowing anything less and the feeling of trueness without knowing anything more, when I knew what it was to be at peace. This feeling of serene tranquility that was a gift to me has been lost while I journeyed along my impersonal walk through life, caught up in the excitement of life that speeds by at a blinding pace. Sometimes, in quiet moments, when my subconscious gives my consciousness time to sit up and listen, I can almost feel that kind Hand that gently pushes us all onto the road to enlightenment.
9. With a quickness I falter upon this rocky ground, inspiration is lost to the thief in the night. I trudge knee-deep through sand and soil, my momentum slowing as I slither like a serpent through this muck and mire. Surrounded by alluring curiosities, sold into slavery, helplessly I am chained in bondage, addicted. I have been reduced to a loaf of bread and set out for market. I am bound in a constant state of emergency which leaves me in a condition of sleeplessness forever searching for the magical formula that will cure me of this sickness. Shout to me so even a deaf man will hear. Show me again and again so even a blind man can find his way. Let me feel Your Presence so I will doubt no longer, for doubt brings out the hatefulness of my loneliness.
10. Striving for greatness in an evolving world, I stand frozen in the landscape staring at all the evils of a fallen human race. Travelers from near and far stand amongst the ruins of a declining civilization, hounded by their many skeletons that whisper of guilt and despair. Harnessing and hindering all in the same instant, stopping me cold in my tracks, my own demons tempt and tease my trivial existence.
In this world of regrets, I am bound to chains of self-pity and greed. Circling like a hungry caged lion awaiting its next meal, this insatiable burning passion for more incinerates the already addictive nature of my soul. Wandering the streets of this decaying world longing for fulfillment, searching for the answers to the mysteries of life, my mind convulses, like an epileptic caught in a stroboscope, each thought flashes in stark skeletal contrast laying bare the sinfulness of my heart. The hustle and bustle of these thoughts cloud the images of a hopeful future.
Music plays on in the distance, the band unknown yet familiar, melodic melodies dance and sway through the towering concrete jungle of my mind. The voice of the crooner jumps from the rooftops with his intense ramblings, striking the pavement deep within my heart. His words caress the deep wounds that feverishly fester, exacerbating the ache that slices through the rippling waves of my soul. With wicked thoughts pumping through my mind and this deep seeded loneliness bubbling in my soul, ugly after ugly lie engraves itself upon my heart, this relentlessness never ceasing, this battle ever raging.
Standing naked with selfishness still polluting my veins black as mud. Prideful actions choke the arteries so vital to life, cluttering my heavily bound heart. My worldly ways hinder my growth but still You hold on. You cling jealously to nothing but me. Out chasing my own self for the prize of life; running the mile in four minutes flat, broken and beaten, picked-up and pounded, sold and forgotten, hung out to dry. Dry desert heat blasts erupt from the furnace of life, corroding layers of needfulness. Propped up before an onslaught of eyes, I am exposed, a conflicted man; first out of the gate, but not willing to commit.
11. Searching for relief –
a release from this prison,
fleshy hands grope
with minds of their own.
Strength is exhausted
seeping away quickly,
a shivering quivering corner
calling me closer.
Burdened with sin –
leather straps tightening
hung upside down.
Searching through riddles,
lost not yet found,
with a broken down plow.
Surrounded by barb,
thorn and bristle,
tender skin prickled
thistle after thistle.
Plucking and pulling
at overgrown weeds
clearing the way
for a new crop of seeds.
The refreshing sound of trumpets
resounds in the mind,
quieting the battle
that rages unkind.
Peace is restored
as darkness flickers away.
A daily ritual,
the gift of being saved.
12. Sitting and pondering my life with victories beginning to finally outshine my downfalls, life paces on with time ever constant. Idly flipping through the pages of memory, flickering images of days long gone cloud the eyes of my weary soul. A lifetime seems to have come and gone with unspoken bonds made to violating acts committed. I’m tired, so very tired. What is there left to see? What is there left to do?
In wonder, I sit contemplating this dilemma toiling over my life. Sitting by myself, licking my wounds for past indiscretions, wallowing in the mists of self-pity, I ponder the life of others and wonder of their past indiscretions. Do they wallow as I in self-pity? Feverishly I search for answers to it all. Anxiously I ponder what is to become, pressure-cooking my exhausted brain; soup for lunch, which is my liquefied mind.
[revolution: waking the dead]
13. Brooding over this unforgiving life, juggling all that I’ve learned with all I’ve been told, I realize that all this is just temporary. Having to justify everything just to get through this life means I’m living a life of lies, a life in perversion. In the end, all that I’ll have to show is a black heart and a rotting soul; ring, ring, ring, the bell tolls. Deeply resounding, this ringing rattles my spine splintering fragments of weary bone. Angry booming voices shatter my will to live. Poisonous smoke billows throughout my veins, darkening the light within my heart. In a crumpled mess I crash to a halt with guttering muttering filling the room resounding, mumbling sweet nothings to a body decayed. Spinning round for hours, blankly I stare, slowly sinking into a pit of despair.
14. Shattered windows cloud my vision; shards of glass protrude from my fatigued feet from trampling upon my own brokenness. I stumble past a leering and jeering crowd, ashamed and guilt-ridden. I trip over myself, sending my spirit reeling. I turn back to see myself frightened and confused. Growls and roars deafen my ears; I falter, falling to a knee. Swaying in the coldness, my life starts to fade, sweet oblivion rising before my very eyes. The crowd begins to disappear taking all of this away, leaving me spent and shivering in space.
15. Waking to the screaming silence, the deafening sonic boom shatters my eardrums. The madness begins and the light fades. Huddling within myself to stop the cold, soulless eyes pierce my mind, bringing me ever so closer to the edge. A sound, just a sound – to break this ear piercing silence; seconds tick silently on; minutes tick ever so slower. Is this Heaven? Is this Eternity? Is this tranquility? Is this serenity? A sound, just a sound – to end this madness; I wish I could scream, even just whimper. I long to hear even the endless echo of a dripping faucet. Reaching rotting hands climb deeper into my soul scorching my will, dimming the light. A sound, just a sound – a sound, just one sound…
Chaos erupts, the answer to prayer or the lie of the eavesdropper? Boxing round and round again, slammed to the mat again and again, dark ribbons encircle the windows of my face. Caught in the grips of envy, locked-down in jealous rage while wicked thoughts run hateful and cruel with free-for-all fists flying with blind abandoned shame; I am lost amongst myself waning for Truth. I stagger for stability, only to crash to the mat again. Sapped of all strength, weakened to my knees, grasping for scales to balance this bout, the promise of salvation comes with the ringing of the bell. The fighting ceases for a time.
16. Green is the color that fills my heart, clouded as I look with sinful eyes. Salivating they drool with tears full of lust and greed, coveting everything in sight. Blue is the color that fills my spirit, in sadness paddling further out to sea, hopelessly losing strength, down-trodden, beaten and battered, drowning in sorrow and guilt. Black is the color of my soul, the many layered depths charred by sinfulness. Hand fed by my own flesh, in a putrid stench it lays in self-pity. This darkness oozes through the pores of my face with poisonous thoughts clouding my judgments of the day. Pain surrounds my spirit, bruising it a purplish-black, threatening to forever taint me with this stigmata.
A shower of soft delicate rain beats down upon my skin, soothing the bruising, alleviating the malignancy. Children run playfully through these April showers, laughing with unashamed abandon. Their honesty shines through like beacons of light. Oh to have faith like a child, inspiration to us all. Lightning strikes to the core of my being, jumbling my thoughts, shocking them into submission. Sunshine breaks through these dark clouds lifting the burdens of this everyday life, warming my soul and refreshing my skin, coloring me in earthy tones.
17. Listening to the bombarding voices that ricochet off the walls of my mind, I bounce around the inner sanctuary of my soul shouting at the top of my lungs with tears in my eyes, “Why?” With the echoing of my own voice drifting to silence, Your sympathetic peaceful groaning touches my heart in gentle caresses, filling it with love and joy, warming the core with an engaging fire, melting its frosty covering.
Peacefully Your kindness gently arrives on pillow soft breezes that blow by the closed shutters of my turned down house. Longing for entry, the gentle rapping stirs the Keeper of this heart. Stretching from his devotional position, fanning at the thick hazy smoke of remembrance, the shell of a lost love lays lifeless on the floor, yearning to be resurrected. Striding to the closed shutters, He unlocks the latches throwing open the windows to this heart. A patient love comes fluttering in breathing life back into the deadness. Warm rays flood the many rooms with joy and understanding, lighting the house with unfailing love. Deep in my heart, the found never lost Keeper is busy with preparations for an eternal destiny.
[confusion: the metamorphosis]
18. Pouring my heart out to the world, hoping the words fill the minds of all with songs of encouragement and inspiration, I ramble on with fervor, yet am bound to walk life as a recluse. In seclusion, addicted to distraction, my lonely soul is set apart from the gathering by sin, lost in self-pity.
Television waves radiating the latest in all things indulgent microwave and tenderize my brain, whipping it into a mushy conglomerate, my temporary placebo to this terminal sickness. Programmed and then reprogrammed, my heart gets laminated with a glossy finish, sealing in the stench that steams off of it. Slick, shiny and pleasing to the eye, my heart now hangs prettily for all to see in a noose from around my neck.
My heart seeks a peace that never comes, for my mind battles for control every second of my life. Heart felt sighs make my mind rage evermore for that control, never relinquishing the battle, for the heart is weak and the mind is strong. But in truth, the reality of it all makes my heart cry which sends my mind reeling, running for cover into the folds of solitude. The peace I have lies in solitude, which is also my pain. The fear of belonging is the source of this pain. My sanity hangs on the threads of a soon to be lost button.
19. Bound within my heart lie the tools for destruction, and the thirst for power is still fresh upon my blackened soul. Racing through life like a junkie hell bent for a fix, I gamble my soul in disregard to my conscience. Dark shadows haunt my mind, antagonizing my existence as Angels of Light battle on my behalf. Spinning out of control, swirling to dark depths, I am surrounded by hate and guilt. Riding through this storm of a life, You rip through the very fabric of my existence. Lightning strikes; I cower. Thunder peels; I shiver. Hail rains down upon me weakening my will, breaking me down to the very simplicity of my being.
20. A spark flickers in a breath bringing forth the stark realities of Truth. Not just the bewildering but the mortifying awakenings caught only in glimpses stroke the deep ache that incinerates barriers and knows no bounds. Traveling through shafts and plummeting down crevices, it scorches a path that shatters my will exposing its core blackened by sin. Swimming through the depths of the whirlpools in my mind brings me closer to the source of this recurring torment that haunts like a poltergeist. Hanging in a closet, my maggot-ridden flesh is stripped exposing sinew, tendon and bare bone. The splintering of ivory and the milking of marrow bleed the soul of all its dark forces that welcomes with open arms this warm soft pumping sensation. I am covered in Your grace as I stand refreshed. A new horizon fills my vision with the shedding of this worldly skin.
21. Quietly a reassuring Voice begins to gently nibble at my ears, easing the burdens that weigh heavy in my heart. With Your encouraging loving Word You minister and nurture my flagrant spirit, helping me to curb my maturing appetite. Pulsating surges full of excitement tempt and tantalize the longing that resides deep within my soul, threatening to interrupt this flow of Righteousness, Your gift to me that draws me out of the depths of darkness.
[renewal: the faithfulness of Love]
22. In reminiscence, the days of my youth roll on by in thick dark billowing clouds, threatening to cast their impending doom upon my present state of mind. Deep pondering and long meditative sessions of quietness are my only times of peace; then I am thrown back into the throng of things.
23. Down pouring rain falls in inundating sheets upon the vaporous streets of an evolving world, the hustle and bustle of competitiveness stifling necessary spiritual growth. The Gospel of Peace looms in the air threatening the existence of the frantic daily routine. Mad commotion erupts into panic as the words hit home.
Fleeing for my life, I run back to You. Balking and faltering upon the last steps, I crawl the last part of the way, I rise to my knees. In the throngs of this awakening, seething lies crackle the air. Acerbic and piercing, the words spear my spirit, leaving gaping holes that long to be filled whole. Slowly they seep. Attacked from all angles, I am beaten. Hold me with Your steel grip, never releasing me from the safe haven of Your breast. Fiery missiles sizzle on impact against the coolness of Your Holiness that refreshingly soothes the battle raging within the temple of my mind. Peacefulness descends upon me, and joyously I proclaim of the warmth within my heart. In my defense, You stand interceding on my behalf, Your words of Truth wrapped in love slay me with a blanket of compassion. Darkness is on the run.
24. Longing for Your guidance, my clouded vision of the future brings me back and forth and then forward and back again. To know all is to be God and to not know is to walk by faith. Theological discussion with my heart helps to ease the tediousness of reason. Quietly, in persistence, Love comes in from all angles threatening to break through these philosophical walls of solitude.
25. When You are near, I am aware of the sadness that echoes throughout my soul. It bounces off invisible barriers that bind and hinder my healing. Haunted by skeletons from a guilt filled past, continually pestered by shadows that gnaw at my soul, life turns bleak in the reflections of a distant future. In secrecy, off in the darkened corners of my mind, wicked thoughts lay in wait plotting their evil intentions in premeditated violent lawlessness. I am hounded by their deceptive hallucinations of destruction as their offensiveness thrashes about in complete disregard to the whimpers and cries from my exhausted heart, a whisper on a gentle breeze the only amnesty from this accusing criminal injustice against my soul.
26. Compassionate arms stretch towards the earth with an all-encompassing unconditional love, faithfully following a boy lost to loneliness and enslaved to addiction. Stumbling blindly, fighting with inadequate weapons, and unleashing a pitiful showing of character, I clumsily limp through life. Accusing laughter resounds from the roaring crowd within my mind, pounding even more tears into this sorrow-soaked heart. Seeking shelter from the onset of dejected thoughts colliding like bumper cars spasmodically chasing each other in dizzying circles, I pray with a hopeful heart.
27. The longer I walk with You, the more aware I become of my own sinfulness. Feeling the shame and guilt of living such a long life as a pagan, I run from You. In the crawl space of my mind I cower, licking my wounds, hiding myself within the confines of my unkempt garden where thistlely weeds grow wildly. Yet, in merciful love You call out to me and by Your Truth I am set free. For You are truly my only salvation; in You alone my hope rests. In finality the reality of this compelling Truth carries my heart into surrender. Deep resounding sobs pour out of my weary soul weakened from the strife of the world. I finally relinquish control to You, allowing the strength of Your Son to enter my heart which brings a transcending peace to my distressed soul. His Presence calms my weary soul, permanently filling me with the love that I’ve come to cherish so dearly. Straight to the very center of my spirit His sweet Voice penetrates, mending my fragileness. Being pulled towards the Light, knowing that I have finally been drawn onto the road to redemption, I hold fast onto Jesus as I fall willingly into Your loving arms.
28. “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death” Psalm 118:13-18 (NIV).
“Had it not been the Lord on my side when men rose up against me, then they would have swallowed me alive, when their anger was kindled against me; then the waters would have engulfed me, the stream would have swept over my soul; then the raging waters would have swept over my soul. Blessed be the Lord, who has not given me to be torn by their teeth. My soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and I have escaped. My help is the name of the Lord, who made the heaven and earth” Psalm 124:2-8 (NASB).
“Creation and creatures applaud You, God; Your holy people bless You. They talk about the glories of Your rule, they exclaim over Your splendor. He does what’s best for those who fear Him – hears them call out, and saves them. God sticks by all who love Him, but it’s all over for those who don’t. My mouth is filled with God’s praise. Let everything living bless Him; bless His holy name from now to eternity!” Psalm 145:10-12, 19-21 (The Message).
[mission: empowered by Love]
29. Epilogue: A hard day’s ride is ahead of me; my mighty stallion is exhausted. Sweat glistens off his pearly white flanks under the burning sun. Commanded by my Lord I ride with confidence, for He has gone ahead of me and has already prepared the way. A refreshing vision of His radiant brilliance sets my mind free. My Companion reassures me throughout this endeavor, helping to uplift my spirit and heart in trying times. Quietly I listen to all He has to say soaking in His sweet discerning words of counsel. His Words refresh my soul like spray from ocean surf; I am renewed.
Up hills and down valleys we ride, searching for the lost and the broken. Their cries are barely audible through the thickness of their pride. On the winds, loud, clattery, banging, resounds heavily in the air – the babble of the world. In bedlam the chaos churns. People in a confused state wander aimlessly on fruitless pursuits, blinded by the glittering prizes of the world. Their own sinful desires choke the very life from their hearts. The stench from their selfishness vaporously steams off of their souls. Enshrouded in darkness, they dance to the devil’s song.
Quietly, in secrecy, behind locked doors, saints kneel in prayer before the Almighty Lord who meets with them in their secret gardens away from the babel. They faithfully intercede on behalf of the lost and the broken, who are in reality disguised as the wicked and rotten. Always faithful, the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob hears and answers their cries for mercy and justice.
The thundering of hooves and the snorting of vengeance filling the air swings my mount around. The ringing of my fiery sword blazes high in the sky. A fiery Sword of the Spirit wielded in the hands of an able saint strikes straight to the hearts of all the lost and broken children of a decaying world with the heated fire of the Truth. It pierces through the many layers of lies written upon their hearts. The eclipsing nature of this rebirth by fire rings the melodious bells of Heaven, raining down the joyous love that is all creation’s inheritance.
The sun in its full glory beats down on the advancing horde. At full charge they come at me with hatred in their hollowed eyes. My Companion speaking in tongues of fire holds me steadfast to the covenants of God. Basking in the Everlasting Light from above, I am strengthened with the Truth that is my triumphant cry. Fortified with His Righteousness, I ride headlong into battle with You by my side. I am a new creation in Christ.
It has begun…