Sweet Release

There is no way you can fully understand this post without listening to the song “God With Us” by Mercy Me before reading. The inspiration comes from these lyrics:

We are free, in ways that we never should be,
Sweet release, from the grip of these chains.

Sweet Release

Let me tell you what sweet release means to me.

Several years ago, my wife had an operation on her foot that left her nearly helpless for weeks. Unable to walk, there was little she could do but lie down, bear agonizing pain, and hope for some relief when she took pain meds.

I got the call a few days after her surgery. All I could hear as I picked up the phone was “Anthony, I need you!”.  I raced home to find her in excruciating pain, and with eyelids swollen. Her throat was starting to swell. The pain medication had triggered an allergic reaction.

We raced to the ER, as much as you can race with someone who cannot walk, in pain almost too great to talk.

I have never felt quite as powerless as I did that day. Powerless to provide comfort, powerless to provide relief, powerless to fix anything. As she laid in the ER bed, eyes closed due to the pain, the doctor injected her with something that must have been from heaven.

The look that came across her face is burned into my memory. Sweet release, played out right before my eyes.

That’s what sweet release means to me.  The memory of that day, the day I was powerless to help. The day I watched my wife go from unbearable pain to sweet, peaceful rest in a matter of seconds.

Quieting The Storm

The days leading up to our ER visit had been like a quiet storm. Constant pain, broken sleep, more pain. A storm of discomfort and anxiety. By the time we reached the ER, it felt like a tornado.

Jesus said it’s not those who are well that need a doctor, but those who are sick.

Maybe you’ve got enough money that you can ignore the deep, inner pain that so many people deal with their whole lives. Maybe you don’t know any people who’s lives are a wreck. Maybe you never see pain.

But for many of us, people like me, we’ve reached a point where we are not among the well. We count ourselves among the sick, the broken, the hopeless.

For 30 years of my life, I wrestled with so many deeply rooted issues of significance, worthiness, fear, and at times depression. No amount of money, or friends could hide the fact that something was wrong.

The picture of how I felt inside would look much like Lori’s face right before the medication hit. A tired, worn-out soul, a heart bruised and covered with scar tissue, too hurt to know that there was anything better.

..from the grip of these chains

One day, my first set of chains broke off. They were the chains I had been using to convince myself that nobody cared about what I had to say. Chains around my own self-worth.

And when they broke off, I broke down. I don’t know which was stronger, the grip the chains had on me, or the grip I had on those chains. But the feeling I experienced as they dropped was like nothing else I had ever been through.

That day, the storm inside quieted for the first time I could remember. I felt like I could breath for the first time. A millstone had been lifted from around my neck.

And when I looked up, I saw a God that had not been putting his foot on my neck to keep me down. Rather, he had been waiting, all those years, to take my pain, my heartache, my chains.

Waiting for me to walk by his side, released from false obligation, unbearable expectation, fear of failure, and the constant fear of abandonment.

That’s why when I hear the words of this chorus, the words come from a place inside so deep, that the tears often prevent me from singing.

All that is within me cries
For you alone be glorified
Emmanuel, God with us.
My heart sings a brand new song
My debt is paid, these chains are gone
Emmanuel, God with us
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2 thoughts on “Sweet Release

  1. Anthony, I hope you get to read this response. It has been some time since you wrote it. We actually seem to have a good bit in common. I’m a Christian (actually, a pastor), 13 years interracially married, 4 kids and a love for blues guitar. I’ve played for over 22 years, though for much of that time, I never really took it too seriously (unfortunately, that shows, as I am far below where I should be, though I’ve made great strides in the past few years). Your lessons have been a blessing to me.

    But, this song by MercyMe is one of my favorites. Really, we often think of grace as something that really is for sinners needing salvation, But God’s grace goes so much deeper than just that. It’s by grace that we live. Life’s burdens are simply too heavy for us to shoulder, and in vain we try. It really is a form of bondage that we try to hold on and maintain control we never even really had. I like what Peter said, “…casting your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

    Thanks for sharing this, brother. God bless.

    Jeffrey Richard

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