Freedom. Is it a heavy chain around my (Jennifer’s) wrists loosening and falling away? Maybe it’s the prison door rattling just before it swings wide and I step out with a sigh of relief. Or, in my mind’s eye, I see a fiery autumn scene, the ground blanketed in red-gold—a dark-haired girl twirls and leaps in smooth rhythm near a shimmering stream, captivated by the joy in her reflection.
In real life, it may look completely different. Freedom can be moving through my daily relational obstacle course differently. A stressful time or sensitive trigger is changed. I experience the hard moment, but peacefully and infused with a breath of fresh air. One thing I know—when I feel free, there is often an internal joy, lightness, and peace, or sometimes a thrill. That internal freedom becomes transparent if I feel safe to be authentically me. You probably know the feeling. I’m sure I’m not unique.
The precious experience of freedom can only mean one thing: there are times when I’m not free. I’m held captive by a painful wound, a habit of thought or behavior, or some past experience. These things come from what I or others have chosen. Some are in the moment. Others seem frozen in time.
I want freedom!
What I wouldn’t give for freedom!
The question is—what will I have to give? My bull-in-a-China-shop way of life. There is a cost to remain free. I’ll have to place my heart’s desires, busy mind, and strong will in God’s hands. The One who created me and loved me to the point of giving everything for me, including his life, deserves nothing less than a humble, grateful response.
So, if I’m willing to surrender the old way of life, what would my new lifestyle look like?
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 CSB
Authentic freedom comes from God. In our culture, there’s license to do whatever we want, and then there’s genuine liberty. What really counts is freedom from the things that separate us from our Father God eternally.
The struggle to be free will be unique to each of us. I battle my pride. Sometimes I don’t embrace the heart, mind, or ways of God. I mistakenly believe I know better or I’ve got things under control. (You, too?) I have to make the hard choices every day. Some days I don’t make the right ones. But, I want to be free.
King David wrote in Psalm 119
How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life. May your unfailing love come to me, LORD, your salvation, according to your promise; then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees. Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. vv.40-50
David was wise. He knew his life was only preserved by wholeheartedly embracing the ways of God in response to the heart of God. The way we should live is clearly expressed in Scripture (laws, precepts, commands, and promises that flow from a heart of love). If I take the time to read, I know the heart and mind of God in a beautiful, consistent Old and New Testament blend. I have the law and prophecy, and the fulfillment of both in the birth, life, and death of Jesus.
God loved us through the gift of Jesus and the covenant made at Calvary.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
The sacrifice at the cross was our purchase price. Jesus set us free by addressing the entire list of offenses against Holy God, and how should we respond (Colossians 2:14)? Should we choose a haphazard, self-consumed lifestyle?
We have to take a gut-level honest look at ourselves: thoughts, words, and actions. Thoughts are private. Words and actions will tell on us. If we are willing to take a close look, we might be surprised at the inconsistencies. Our words and actions show what we really believe or embrace. This sort of self-examination reveals the real condition of our heart and the evidence of genuine transformation.
When it comes to life transformation, we’re not left to our own devices (often, the root of pride). For each one of us, the relationship to God is sealed through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this world we wait for our Father’s promises to be fulfilled. We will be made perfect one day, and temptation will be completely removed—but not in this life. Some righteousness will be evident this side of eternity in our victories, but we’re only perfected at the face-to-face meeting yet to come.
Right now, I count on the goodness of God, “by grace through faith in Jesus,” for the good choices I can make that will keep me free. When I remember Jesus’ love for me—and because the Holy Spirit has given me the strength to do it—I consciously choose to love God and people by embracing and acting according the ways of God. I know I won’t get it all right all the time (friends and family would agree). And I know this:
the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
The amazing God of the universe, my Daddy-God, has lavished love on me (and all of us!). My freedom was bought and paid for on a hill outside Jerusalem. On the daily journey toward eternity, my freedom is guarded by the presence of God in me. I’m thankful, so I want to make choices that honor the sacrifice at the cross and keep me from getting all bound up in chains again.
What do you think about that? Have you experienced a measure of freedom? Did it come with a cost?
Thanks for reading along. Share your thoughts on freedom in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation started!