Watch night is an African-American
tradition dating back to Dec. 31, 1862, when slaves from across the
nation gathered in churches to pray and await the possibility of
freedom. It started the night before the signing of the Emancipation
Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.
slaves waited patiently, hoping the document would be signed and loose
the bonds of slavery in America. They believed their freedom was
contingent upon one man. Yet, the Bible declares that Jesus Christ alone
has the power to give us freedom: “‘Therefore if the Son makes you
free, you shall be free indeed'” (John 8:36, NKJV, emphasis added).
don’t know what it’s like to be a slave in the fields, but I have had
some areas in my life in which I wasn’t as victorious as I could have
been. Fear, intimidation, regret, self-pity and inner pain were among my
For years I
sat on my God-given gifts and wouldn’t take a microphone, worried about
what people might think of me. I allowed the fear of man to bind me with
chains no less oppressive than the physical shackles that cut the feet
of those dear slaves.
amazing to me how we, as Christian women, often fail to realize that our
freedom is not contingent upon what anyone else says or thinks about
us. Many of us continue to sit in churches like those slaves, waiting
and hoping for the day when someone comes by to release us to walk in
the fullness of our gifts and callings in God. But we need not wait any
ON THE BRINK OF LIBERTY
Today, you stand at the brink of freedom, for your emancipation has
already arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. Your Emancipation
Proclamation was signed 2,000 years ago in His precious blood. Every
morning holds fresh opportunities for you to reach up and realize the
hope of your high calling (see Lam. 3:22-23).
and I don’t have to wait to enter into the promises of God’s liberty.
Because of Christ’s blood, we are free to enjoy the privileges of
sonship, which include walking in the fullness of His high calling and
realizing all His benefits.
can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us (see Phil.
4:13). Neither the opinions of people nor the agenda of demonic forces
can hinder us. “‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every
tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is
the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is
from Me,'” says the Lord (Is. 54:17).
He’s called you to sing, sing! If you know you can preach, preach! If
you can exhort, help someone! You are not bound. Christ has set you
free! What are you waiting for?
for a minute what it is that keeps you from walking in the place of
calling and blessing you know in your heart belongs to you. How long
will you sit on your gift? Your gift was given to you for someone else,
not for you.
TRAPPED IN SHADOWS OF THE PAST
Perhaps you’ve been hurt by circumstances that have broken your spirit
and destroyed your confidence. As Spirit-led women, let’s forget about
the woundedness of the past. Life is too short to wallow in the mud of
self-pity. We’re in a war, and we’ve all been hurt.
have to get up, brush off your knees, dry your eyes, hold your own
heart together and make a difference in someone’s life. It’s only when
you begin to give to others that you’ll sense the freedom God has
birthed in your own soul.
many of God’s daughters sit in pews Sunday after Sunday, silenced, shut
down and weighed down by regret. If you fit into this category, you’re
It grieves me to
see women hiding in the shadows of a busy church, shamed and saddened by
secrets from their past they wish to conceal. Christian women should be
restored to their place of wholeness before God so their testimony
draws other women back to the Lord. Yet many of us are still trying to
keep our secrects instead of giving them to the Lord.
valley you’ve walked through can become a bridge of blessing for
someone else. Your experiences, no matter how stained with sin, give you
authority and empathy to speak into someone’s life in a way no other
individual could. You can look into the eyes of a woman deep in sin and
say: “Baby, if He did it for me, He’ll surely do it for you. He’s no
respecter of persons.”
will turn your shadows of shame to a pathway of blessing for others.
Give God those places of regret. Let Him turn them into your crown.
Doing so will take getting real with yourself and others, and it will
require some self-examination.
freedom will require you to get to the heart of the matter–your heart.
Breaking the chains of bondage on the outside may take some deep
healing inside. Don’t be afraid to seek that healing. You’ll need it to
master the balancing act ahead.
A WOMAN’S BALANCING ACT
As women, we are expected to be able to split up our time to meet the
needs of all the people depending on us and still have something left
over. Many women grow weary and give up. Others see the juggling act as
far too overwhelming and never start. These women wait for the day to
arrive when the demands wind down and they can find time for God and His
calling on their lives.
I feel like a character in Fiddler on the Roof, a musical set in the
small Jewish village of Anatevka, Russia, in 1905. It tells the story of
a Jewish milkman, Tevye, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters. The
film version opens with a fiddler standing on top of a roof, playing
Like the fiddler,
I often find myself performing a rooftop balancing act, standing on top
of the magnificent platform God has provided and attempting to fiddle
without falling. How do I, as a woman, strike a balance in my heart
between leading and following?
is part of the balancing act we must master. It takes knowing how to
embrace the potential God has placed inside of us, discerning when to
take charge in leadership, and then knowing when to lay low long enough
to hear the Spirit’s admonition to slow down, calm down and follow.
woman’s success both in ministry and at home requires great balance.
Don’t be an extremist. Submit all that you do and think to the Lord
daily in prayer, and learn to hear from Him.
on the Rock of Jesus Christ, and you will become an emotional rock upon
which others can depend. Some of us are so extreme in our emotions that
no one knows what to expect from us from one day to the next. Today
we’re happy, but tomorrow we may be angry, rejecting everyone in sight.
how to be consistent and temper your statements with love. Get control
of those rampant emotions with God’s help. You’ll find it’s possible to
control even the most passionate of temperaments with work and prayer.
A SECRET PLACE
Through the years, I have learned to set aside a place in my heart and
mind to which I can retire from the push and pull of life, a place I
carry around with me wherever I go, a place of serenity and peace.
Depending on the busyness of my day, I may make it there only once. On
other days I am able to escape more often, but only in brief 10-minute
periods. Once in a while I have the pleasure of relaxing in my special
place for extended periods, delighting in the peace of God that passes
to my private, internal retreat allows me to meet life with renewed
confidence and courage. Escaping to yours will do the same for you. Seek
that hidden place of peace with God, and determine to find in its
serenity the strength you need to begin a new way of living. Move beyond
your comfort zone and believe that God will use you as He never has
GOD HAS NEED OF THEE
Let the Lord reveal the endless opportunities you have to serve Him. He
has given us only a few years to walk with Him in His harvest fields, so
why would we want to make excuses for not helping Him reap?
forget about fear, intimidation, regret, shame and self-pity. Forget
about the disappointments from the past. I know the beauty that’s in
you, and I know the pain that’s there, too. God keeps every tear we cry
in a bottle, but sometimes you’ve got to take your bottle and dump it
out for someone else (see Ps. 56:8).
that you will not waste your gifts another day or even another moment.
God has a great plan and purpose for your life, and all you have to do
is say yes. What are you waiting for?
Serita A. Jakes is the wife of Bishop T.D. Jakes and first lady of The Potter’s House in Dallas.