Photo by Moritz Schumacher on Unsplash

It is Lent.  The season to remember our bondage.

I remember my bondage.  Do you remember yours?

The days were dark.  I was scared.  The shackles cut at my wrists.  Every day was back-breaking work, just trying to stay alive.  I thought I had no other choice, no way out. The future was bleak.  Possibly the worst part: no one (not even me) knew who I was because enslavement strips away your true identity.

The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.  And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?” ~Exodus 5:13-14

Deception. Fear of man. Envy and greed.  A tangle of these and other ropes kept me enslaved to the prince of this world.   He did not care about my life.  He only wanted to see me drown in my sin.  He only wanted to throw the image of God into the trash heap.  He laughed at the tricks he required me to perform, and he required me to entrap others.  At night, I hid in a bed of guilt and shame.

I do remember my bondage.  Do you remember yours?

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. ~Exodus 2:23

I also remember my rescue.  A sudden crack of thunder, a sizzling bolt of lightning.  In rode my Savior.  He broke the chains and sliced the ropes with only a word.  He lifted my head and wiped my tears.  No condemnation.  Just understanding.  He promised me a new name, a new purpose, a sure future. I gave him my hand.  It was—in a word—miraculous.

I remember my rescue.  Do you remember yours?

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. ~Exodus 20:2

Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. ~Romans 6: 19

 If only I could say I’ve been completely true to Him.  Since my redemption, sometimes my old master sidles close and whispers enticements.  He offers lighthearted fun.  He suggests that life could be better.  He tells me lies about a soft bed and an easy load.  Sometimes I stay to listen too long.  In those moments, I can’t seem to remember why I ever left.

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them.  ~Exodus 20:3-5

Why do I listen to the father of lies?  I’m free!  I’ve been changed!  I have a new, softened heart and a new, true home.  No one else could have saved me.  I know the cost at which I was bought.  No one else deserves a molecule of my affection.  But I linger in the dark.

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. ~Deuteronomy 5:15

I cannot remember.  I am lost.

Praise to my Savior!  In those moments, He rides back into battle for me!  I hear the hoofbeats.  My head turns toward the sound.  He cries out, “I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost!  I desire that she, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am!” As soon as my eyes spot Him—the founder and perfecter of my faith—then the creature of death slinks back into the shadows.  He knows I am spoken for and that my True Hero will never let me go, despite my feeble loyalty.

I cry out in joy.  I let loose praise!  Oh, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, blessed be the God of my salvation!!  Help me always remember where I have been.  Help me celebrate your miraculous, loving rescue.  Hold me fast!  During this season especially, may I dig into the recollection of dark days and the residual echoes so that when I lift my eyes toward your cross I will drown in awe and wonder.  You deserve nothing less, oh Lord my God, who brought me out of slavery.

Remember, dear church, the day you came out of Egypt.  Do you remember?