“Think back to a time when you truly felt free…”
The words from my audiobook rang in my ears from the night before.
“Have I ever been truly free?” I thought to myself….
I’ve talked about freedom.
I’ve proclaimed freedom.
I live in the “Land of the Free”.
The Bible tells me in Galatians 5 that I am free because Christ set me free.
But, honestly, have I ever felt free?
My mind raced back to times I felt alive…
Moments my lungs expanded and fell with the cool air of the mountains.
Moments salty sea water splashed in my face as waves crashed over me from head to toe.
That moment when goosebumps covered my arms as Jon told me he loved me and leaned in for a kiss.
Moments in the woods on a cold night where I looked up to see a bright, round moon lighting my path.
My mind raced back to times I felt rebellious…
The time I snuck out to a party with a crush and ended up being the only girl in a room full of drugs and alcohol…and I was only 17.
The many times I lied to my parents about where I was and who I was with.
The time I drank an entire bottle of wine singlehandedly, blacked out, then made a presentation the next day in class, with Gatorade and BC powder blasting through my veins as I tried not to puke.
The time I slipped off my “true love waits” ring, long before I said “I do”.
The time I walked into an employer’s office and handed him a letter of resignation, packed my things and never looked back.
Freedom. I tried to process the word. What I came up with, came out as a prayer mixed with a cry. It’s almost as if, for a moment, I stopped trying to figure it out but rather cried out to God in a carefully constructed prayer that flowed, though most ironically, freely…
Is freedom found when I am at peace?
Is freedom found when I no longer have responsibilities?
Is freedom found on vacation?
Is freedom a $100,000 a year income?
Is freedom found in self-help books? Any books? The Bible?
Is freedom found in deleting social media, losing track of all of my rivals?
Is freedom found in memorizing scripture?
Is freedom found in worship?
Is freedom found by being baptized?
Is freedom knowing your purpose?
Is it found in prayer? In yoga? In meditation?
Is freedom found by adding more, or taking less medication?
Is freedom found in fitness?
Is freedom found in food?
Is it found in drugs, alcohol or new designer shoes?
Where can I find it Lord? This freedom you speak of?
Where can I find it God? So I, too, can rise above?
How do I get there, Lord?
Please help me to see,
This so called freedom you died for me to receive.
I can’t find it in my job, work always overwhelms me
I can’t find it as a wife, chores always hound me
I can’t find it in a car, driving out of town
I can’t find it by choosing to say yes, or by letting others down
Freedom seems like a fancy word, for an illusion we choose to believe
Freedom, we seem to twist and turn into what we think it should be
Help me to see Freedom for what it is, even if it’s messy
Help me to know You for who You are and experience this blessing
I know I have salvation Lord, I know you set me free
But right now as my life keeps spinning Lord, I don’t know how to be
I long to set others free, to free them in your Name
But right now, I don’t even know what freedom is, much less feel equipped to proclaim
Following the writing of these words, I began to feel as though a weight had been lifted. For days now, weeks even-I have walked around with a heaviness associated with the word freedom. Weird right? Heaviness and freedom don’t seem to be associated with one another. Ann Voskamp says “Free people free people”. The basis of my bible study right now is Galatians 5:1 which states “It is for freedom Christ has set you free”. This word-“Freedom”-has been hurled at me from every direction and all it has shown me is how enslaved I am. I don’t know that I will ever know what freedom is, but I do know what it isn’t.
As I sat in traffic, covered up in work, stressed out, broke out and give out, I wrestled with the thought of “freedom” and how I could possibly walk in the truth that it was supposed to encompass. I prayed. I had enough of the nagging thoughts that swirled in my spirit and confessed them to God with a renowned “help my unbelief”. Because being free, and believing you are free are two totally separate concepts. And though in my salvation I am free, I still have a hard time believing that is true.
I’m obviously not there yet, but our most recent mini vacation to the beach opened my eyes to freedom, even for but a moment. It wasn’t the ocean-though I’m not going to say the setting wasn’t inspiring. It wasn’t the lack of laundry or the eating out. It wasn’t necessarily ignoring my emails or taking strolls down to the water with Jon. It was different. It was the moments when I sat on the beach, or on the deck and stared without hurry. Without stress. Without anxiety. I just sat and stared and prayed and listened. In the Bible, the pursuit of Sabbath was instituted as a fundamental part of creation. It’s not only necessary but essential to our very being if we ever want to experience freedom. As I have unpacked the word itself over the last few weeks, my soul has longed for a lifestyle of true Sabbath rest.
When I was younger, one of my favorite stories in the Bible was the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10. Jesus was coming to visit and Mary and Martha spent all day preparing for his arrival. When he arrived, instead of helping Martha finish cooking, Mary sat at the foot of Jesus and listened. Martha got upset over the fact her sister was not helping her. Yet, Jesus replied “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Now I’m not condoning laziness by any means. Whether you work inside or outside of the home, you really can’t avoid work in some form and I believe God honors hard work. However, how, if we never stop working, will we ever have time to sit at the feet of Jesus and just listen? And really, isn’t that what Sabbath rest is all about? Choosing to stop working, rest our bodies, quiet our minds and sit at the feet of Jesus?
In those moments at the beach that I sat down to just sit at the feet of Jesus, I learned more than I ever would have listening to a sermon. Again, I’m not saying “Don’t go to church” but what I am saying is, if Sunday morning is a chore…if Sunday afternoons are full of work…if every day of our lives is packed full…if there is never a minute to rest on our schedules…then when do we ever stop to listen? And if we don’t really stop to listen to the one that died to save us and have a genuine relationship with us, then how is going to church and sitting in a pew to check it off the to-do list God honoring? And if our lives aren’t honoring God, what then who or what are we honoring? If freedom is found in Christ, and we are honoring anything and everything but Christ in our lives, doesn’t that mean we are walking around enslaved?
So maybe, freedom, true freedom can’t be found by anything here on earth, but rather at the feet of the one who created it.
Just some thoughts to think on..love you guys.