Phantom Oppressions

Have you ever experienced a phantom vibration? That feeling of your phone buzzing in your pocket when you actually left it in the other room? “According to Dr. Michael Rothberg, the term is not a syndrome, but is better characterized as a tactile hallucination since the brain perceives a sensation that is not actually present.”

I was reminded of this when I read Isaiah 9:4 the other day:

“For you have shattered their oppressive yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor,
just as you did on the day of Midian.”

I read this verse wondering, ‘If Jesus shattered my sin and the things that feel heavy, then why do I sometimes feel like they’re still there? If Jesus took all my sin and shattered it, if He has removed the oppression of the enemy from me, and the weight on my shoulders off, then why do I still feel it?’

Now we circle back to phantom vibrations. This condition of being so attached to something that even when its not there, our brain still send us messages that it is. And even though Jesus carried the victory over sin and darkness and all that comes with it, we may still feel “phantom vibrations” that remind us of its heaviness.

“For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6

In those moments where I feel defeated, not enough, or that I’m not doing enough, I remember. I remember that God sent His son to be born FOR us. At first reading through the verse about, I read it as TO us, but rereading it, I fell in love with the wording. That God gifted us His son, who is FOR us. Oftentimes we make the challenges we face so much about us that we lose sight of the big-Kingdom-of-Heaven picture. Thankfully, it’s not the “Kingdom of Bri”, which might be similar to the creepy staging of Wanda in WandaVision.

I hear God saying it’s time to “about face”– to turn away from our self-focus or problem-focus, to face Him. It takes one moment of awareness to get back to the Gospel and grace-fueled living. Maybe we were hurt or feel worthless compared to the other social media families or celebs and get hung up on the feelings of “not enough”. Consider finding the trigger that sends you spiraling down the hole of discontentment, envy or whatever it is. Consider a physical prompt to change the course of your thoughts. It could be a few deep and slow breaths, a walk around the neighborhood, or even a snap of the finger (unlike Thanos this will not actually make all your people-problems go away). A single moment of awareness can redirect us to remember the truth of when we make it all about Him, we our blessed with the Kingdom goodness He originally intended for us to live with. Lets remember to make it about Jesus reigning and His kingdom, and for Christ coming and making himself at home more and more in our hearts as we trust in Him.

“The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:7

Jesus reigns with justice, righteously and with great passion over His kingdom. He will continue to reign “to establish and sustain it”. My zeal, passion and strength will not establish or sustain Gods Kingdom. As hard as I might try, I won’t even sustain my own Kingdom (which looks like the drive for power, prestige, purpose). Which sometimes, if we are all honest here, its easier said than done to steer free from doing. It’s Jesus’ zeal that accomplished the reign of His kingdom. Signed, sealed by His blood and delivered to us– it’s HIS kingdom, not my own. He has the power, plan, the purpose and provision for us and we can trust Him to remain faithful.

It can be exhausting to be a work in progress, but the beauty of transformation is that it helps remind us of our need for God and the work Jesus did on the cross. Verse 6 says that Jesus was named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of peace. Would you believe this with me? That the God who is holding His gift of himself out to you–who is mighty, will counsel you, pledges by BLOOD to be your Father forever and the bearer of peace wherever He is, is for you? He wants you to succeed, be well, be whole and be transformed as you live out a life of serving and loving others. Its not a call to perfection, but a call to be human, permission to fail, but given the liberty to walk by grace through faith in Christ.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Take a moment to breathe deep (or snap yo’ finger) to redirect your thoughts towards what is true. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and counsel you through the challenging times to remind you of how Jesus shattered that weight. The more you practice redirecting your thoughts and making it about him, the more you’ll feel the phantom vibration of that weight, dissipate in the fullness of surrendering to our Eternal Father.

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