My wife and I are just days away from boarding a plane to China to get our new 4 year-old son named Ty. Getting to this point has been almost a year-long process and a vision that stretches back much farther than that.
About two months ago I found myself very anxious and fearful about his adoption. We had just received an update on him from the orphanage after which I couldn’t sleep. What if he never attaches to us? How will bringing him into the family affect our marriage? I like how things are right now. Do I have what it takes? Do we have what it takes? Fear, anxiety, and worry were gripping my heart and overtaking love. This pattern continued daily for several weeks.
Fear, anxiety, and worry were gripping my heart and overtaking love.
Thankfully in the recent season of my life the Lord has been showing me how much freedom there is in bringing the dark thoughts to light before Him and others. I acknowledged to the Lord the reality of the mixed up emotions of my heart and the shame I felt about it. One morning my wife, Erin, and I went on a walk and I shared what was going on in my heart and head. Her response was beautiful.
She said something like, “What are you doing about it?” Kind of blunt don’t you think? My response was simple, “Well, I’m telling you and God about it. I’m bringing it to light in confession.” She said, “That’s great but what would it look like to move from bringing it to light, to freedom in your heart and mind?”
What she was saying was that there was no shame, and those thoughts of fear have been paid for by Jesus. But, He also wants not just forgiveness for our hearts and minds but freedom by turning and walking in a new direction. His desire for us is peace and abundant life.
Enter Colossians 3:1-14. This passage is being woven into my soul daily right now. It is a beautiful picture of the process of knowing we are free and then actively walking out that freedom in repentance (walking in a new direction). Paul describes this repentance process with two key pictures. “Taking off and putting on.” I picture it like having clothes that no longer fit because I lost 100 pounds, but at times still walk around in them.
Jesus also wants not just forgiveness for our hearts and minds but freedom by turning and walking in a new direction.
Paul is asking something like, “Why would you keep wearing those old clothes? You’re not that person any more.” This process involves actively taking off some old clothes, and at the same time, putting on some new clothes that are true to who I really am as a new creation in Christ. Now look at Colossians 3. Look at the taking off and putting on phrases placed throughout:
Vs. 2 “Set your mind on things above…” (Putting on)
Vs. 5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” (Taking off)
Vs. 9 “Put off the old self…” (Taking off)
Vs. 10 “Put on the new self..” (Putting on)
Vs. 12 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones…” (Putting on)
These are active phrases of repentance in heart, mind, and action based on our secure identity in Christ. Here is what this looked like for me:
I was allowing fear to have free-play in my head but those fears needed to be checked. I didn’t realize the Accuser was hounding me with thoughts of “–if you feel this way you should not even be adopting,” and, “If you were a real Christian you would never fear.” I had to intentionally put off comparison and drag those thoughts into the light. I needed to put off pride both in asking God to change my heart and for honest prayer from others about those fears. Ultimately, I needed to put off letting those thoughts run wild and unchecked in my head.
Putting on started with setting my mind on truth. I am new in Christ and he has paid for all my fears, misplaced loves, and anxious thoughts. He has provided freedom for me to be different than yesterday. Putting on was also asking God to grow love in my heart toward Ty, to give me His heart for my boy. I began to meditate on God adopting me knowing all my imperfections, knowing all my rebellion, my fickle faith, and my desire to satisfy me instead of Him. Putting on was meditating on God choosing me, His great love with which He loved me, and the choice He made because of the JOY set before Him. I put on the choice to pray for Ty each time an anxious or fearful thought came.
My mind is set differently. It was set on fear, and now I can say by God’s grace, it is more set on love.
How It’s Going
I am still in the middle of it. But I can tell you this, I know this journey is not over when we go get Ty. New fears and anxieties will want to creep in when we come home because things will be hard. But now, things are different. My mind is set differently. It was set on fear, and now I can say by God’s grace, it is more set on love. I can honestly say by God’s grace I feel freedom in this next step of our journey in an entirely new way, and I am continually living out this plan of repentance.
- Identify an area of your life that has you gripped (fears, anxieties, circumstances, relationships).
- Take Colossians 3. Work through the two-part repentance process of “taking off” and “putting on” to create a plan of repentance.
- Share your plan with someone else, bring light in, and actively take steps away from sin and toward Christ.
Let’s bring our fears, our anxieties, our doubt, and our shame, to light, and walk in the new life God has promised us.
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Image Credit: Venkataramesh Kommoju, Creative Commons