Friday, June 14, 2013

FREEDOMMM!! (Part 2)

Last week I wanted to talk about freedom, expressing my deep desire for it. This desire seems to make me different than many women I know. Rather than seeking security, routine, home fires and white picket fences, I tend to pull the other direction, feeling stifled by these (admittedly wonderful) things. Here's a short list of the more typical comforts I find a tad suffocating:

Doing the same routine every day. Please, can every day be different?
Having my home and furniture decorated and set up beautifully. Sigh. I do want this. But not that badly. If it was perfect I would change the furniture arrangement and paint something the next day.
Staying home. Well, this year I've liked it, for sure. But generally the best feeling is going somewhere, anywhere. Hitting the road.
Meal plans. I've tried, I see the benefits, and I go crazy knowing what I'm going to eat. I want daily inspiration, and a microwave that thaws meat instantaneously!!

Enough about me! The ME MONSTER! There's like a thousand "I's" in the last paragraph. So we've established the abnormality of my gypsy-like nature. Good enough.

GOD. I know Him. I believe Him. I trust His Word. (okay, ignore the "I"s for a second)

Does He want to trap me, bind me up in misery, keep me from Freedom?

I KNOW He isn't like that, but yessss.... it does feel that way at times. The life of a believer in Christ seems like an endless obligation to church programs and meetings and stuff that should be done. Plus, you can't do it grudgingly, nope, gotta have a cheerful attitude and a right spirit! The healthy ones who learn to set boundaries and do what they are able to do, cheerfully, yeah, good luck to those guys. Eyebrows raise. Heads shake. Lips, they purse. "No, don't ask so-and-so, they've got boundaries." Like it's contagious. The Lazy Disease.

So yeah, I feel like God's got it in for me through my church obligations. I can't succeed here, all the time, and the failure is haunting. I WANT to be available and be able to serve with a happy smile, but the reality is DIFFICULT. I go, but there are shrieking voices in my head, and the smile is made of paper, glue, and pink markers.

Does God want me to feel like this? Is it a kind of perpetual testing? Keep trying by fire until some gold survives? Is it a punishment? Penance for past sins? No, that's not true. I know Him well enough to know that is not His Way.

FREEDOM. I think God loves it.

Isaiah 58 is where I go again and again to be challenged and shaken up.
"Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself ?Is it for bowing one's head like a reed And for spreading out and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke? (vs 5-6)
Not to spend our energy on looking spiritual, but to set people free.
Isaiah 61 tells of the coming Savior who is bringing freedom. And in Luke 4:17-20, the prophecy is powerfully fulfilled.
"And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.'
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him."
The Pharisees and teachers of the law had decided who they thought Jesus was. Maybe you have, too. But when He shows up in your life, when you see Him, it doesn't matter anymore.
Your eyes are fixed on Him.
He came and died for freedom.
"If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:32
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
It's pretty clear...freedom is stamped all over everything God writes and does and plans for. I know one thing comes through loudly: He didn't come and die and rise again so we could be a slave to church programs.
Is it the programs' fault? Not really. The bondage is in my mind and heart. Am I really free?
James calls the "perfect law" the "law of liberty". And that if I walk in that, I will be blessed in all I do.  (1:25)
I don't think I quite have it yet. The struggle is still raw and deep, and I can't go on walking in this disconnect. Desperate for the freedom I see and yet feeling bound up and whipped like a circus performer.
If I'm not free I can't untie anyone else. I can shout at them and tell them what to do, I can bounce around in my chair, but I can't cut the bonds.
"To set free those who are oppressed."
I don't have it yet, but one thing is Really Clear, and that is...
The truly free have the ability to set others free.
THINK about that.
I want to be the one running around on the battlefield lifting up the fallen, breaking into where the captives are and setting them free. Not on my face in the mud just wishing and wishing it was all over.
So that's Freedom Part 2, "from the Christian perspective". God is very much for freedom, and I think He planted the desire in my heart. Not so I would run away from Him, but so I would have such a thudding heart that I would not be content with slavery, and would run like a paint-streaked, bloody Braveheart into the thick of the mess, yelling for freedom.
By My Spirit, says the Lord.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013


"FREEDOMMMM!!!" cries William Wallace and his army of Scotsmen in Braveheart, defending their land and their lives.

I find the blood and sword-clashing mayhem in the movie hard to watch, but I resonate with its theme. In my life to this date, I would say freedom has been the strongest desire of my soul. From long solitary walks across field and woods as a child, to my love of airplanes as a teen, to the pull of the open road today, I want to be free. The tie-downs of modern society wear me out, maybe more than most.
Part of my struggle with teaching has been the rigidity, the insistence, the bells and the deadlines and the slavish consistency that goes into making the whole thing work. Some may think we do better in the idealistic conditions of measured hours, measured assignments, measured paces along clean floors, but I beg to differ. It does work, but it's a soul-killing business. At least for me. How do we train free, independent, deep-thinking young men and women by making them ask to use the bathroom all day long? And we wonder why they don't know their own minds when they get out of high school? Hmmm. I wonder why we all want to live in little boxes in little mazes with bells and line-ups for the rest of our miserable lives. Lab rats, all!

Ok I admit that is a bit extreme. My personal views on schooling are skewed a bit left of center, that's the truth. Let's leave this particular soapbox for now.

"You cannot parcel out freedom in pieces because freedom is all or nothing." -Tertullian 
"Freedom is the oxygen of the soul." - Moshe Dayan
I love to see a motorcycle at the gas station. The heady smell of leather and exhaust makes my head spin. Though I don't ride, the image of a motorcycle heading down the highway is one of freedom. A child in a field of flowers, like Heidi with the goats in the mountains, is freedom. A jet leaving a high ribbon of white against the blue is freedom. Horses running, powerful and beautiful - free.

What images evoke the word 'free' for you?

     .......camping in the wilderness
     .......mountains far away
     .......a cup of coffee alone with a book in a quiet cafĂ©
     .......the call of a loon across the lake

I believe all people desire freedom. For some it is just a quiet house and room to breathe, for others it's a chance to do what they love. What binds us?
Necessity, and need.
Things we own, that own us.

"Freedom lies in being bold." - Robert Frost
Music makes people feel free; it is a freedom in the mind. The same task that would be done as drudgery can be accomplished with spirit and ingenuity to the beat of a favorite song. Saying what we think is a type of freedom which we generally deny ourselves as we get older. We become wise, we say, but in reality the price exacted for speaking we are no longer willing to pay. Wisdom is born of experience and is more often cynicism's child than insight's.
What I'm saying is we call ourselves wise when we are really just careful - careful not to expose ourselves to any blame or hurt. Self-preservation at the expense of everything else.

I am trying to be more bold, like I was in younger days. The straining toward freedom cannot be fully realized here, on earth, though we can live with more boldness and passion.
"The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask." - Jim Morrison

Oh Jim Morrison I wish you were alive, and we could talk! You said it well. What I know of your life, however, is a travesty of freedom taken too far. Your wild and insatiable appetite for it made rock legend. To die at age 27 from drug and alcohol abuse...this is not freedom.
"Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty." - Frank Herbert
I think you're on to something there, Frank, though your name I do not know.
Those who express themselves with reckless abandon burn themselves out like comets or meteors entering the atmosphere of earth. A bright and searing light, then emptiness. And so freedom has its dangerous edge. But I still long for it.

If you see a woman with a face painted blue shouting "freedoomm!!" in the grocery store parking lot, that's me, and I've gone too far.

"Freedom is the only law which genius knows."                        - James Russell Lowell