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.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
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.