What Not To Wear

A few months ago, I came across a passage in the Old Testament that never would’ve caught my eye, but God screamed it off the page in His bold font voice. “So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table.”– 2 Kings 25:29

I didn’t know much about Jehoiachin, but I didn’t need to. This little glimpse into his story kept creeping into my mind throughout the winter morning. When I saw my red canvas journal on the edge of my desk, I picked it up and scrawled the verse across the top of a blank page. The words awakened something in me as I realized: this is my life story. And if you know Jesus, it’s your life story too. He ransomed us from prison. He seated us at His table.

I stared at the words of the verse, meditated on them for a while:

What are my prison garments? The ones I’m most aware of are fear, shame, unbelief, regret, control, abrasiveness, mistrust of Your character, specific sin patterns.

And what does it mean to dine regularly at the King’s table? It means that I have Your provision, Your protection. I’m associated with You. I have intimacy with You because I’m with You every day. It means I’m not in control, because You’re the King, so You’ve got the power. But I don’t have to worry about anything because You like me and want me there—a King would never offer an infinite invitation to someone He didn’t want around. That also means Your feelings toward me are fixed and unchanging. For all these reasons, I should rest secure, with peace in my heart and mind.

Then the shocking realization came: it was possible for me to be freed from prison, yet still walking through life in my orange jumpsuit. But in view of such a generous King, it seems the most insulting thing I could ever do would be to show up at His banquet table, wearing prison garments that carried the stench of death. Especially since He gave me new clothes: garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).

My greatest struggle has always been fear. I will spin a thousand destructive thoughts out of thin air. And there’s only been one thing that has helped me. It’s not a mantra or a self-help book or even therapy (though that has helped). It’s His Word. The more I get to know His character by reading the words He gave us, the less I am afraid. Jesus connected these two things all the time in scripture. I took note of all the places where scripture says I shouldn’t wear that jumpsuit because I’m seated at the table. It looks like this:

“Cast all your cares on Him” Why? “Because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7) “There is no fear in love” Why? “Perfect Love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) “Do not fear anything that is frightening” Why? Because you’ve "put your hope in God.” (I Peter 3:5-6)

As followers of Christ, welcomed guests at His table, one of our callings in life is to take off our orange jumpsuits. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t some ceremonial one-time event. It is not a New Year’s Resolution or a Bucket List item. You can’t add it to your 30-by-30. We must do it repeatedly. Hourly, even. And that process often feels humbling, frustrating, tentative. But we can do it. His Spirit promises to help. And He is patient with us when we resist or forget.

Can I implore you, sister, to read His Word? Make it your priority this year. Above everything else. When you don’t want to do it, ask His Spirit to give you desire. When you feel like you don’t understand it, ask His Spirit to give you wisdom. When you think you’re too busy or tired, ask Him to carve out time in your schedule for Him. It’s the only thing that will help you move in freedom. He is your only hope. But He is more than enough.

With gentle hands, He reaches up to hold the garment as you shake your shoulders free. Breathe easy, walk lighter ... and take your seat at the table.

 

This piece is an adapted excerpt from Orange Jumpsuit: Letters to the God of Freedom, a spiritual memoir by Tara-Leigh Cobble (www.taraleighcobble.com)