As America just celebrated its Independence Day, I have been mulling on the subject of freedom.
I’m going to refrain from comment about the history of this holiday, as it is not relevant to the direction I want to take with this post.
So, before a rant or lecture ensues, on to the actual focus of this post.
First of all, what is the definition?
According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom, freedom is the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence
c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care>
There are some wonderful sounding words in there… liberation, independence, released…
You could say that freedom is the opposite of being enslaved. The opposite of being weighed down by burdens. The opposite of being bound or trapped.
Sometimes we don’t realize how bound we are until we’ve been set free. And sometimes we understand too well how captive we are but have no idea how to get the key for release.
I spent several years longing for that key, not realizing how close it was. Then there would be times that I stopped looking, believing that I was just fine. But then a collision would reveal there were still prison bars in the way.
It was a horrible cycle, and there did not appear to be any hope of any kind of real release.
Until at last I understood what true freedom was, not just a temporary escape that would end up re-routing back to the beginning.
What was that key?
Or perhaps the better question would be, who was the key?
It was Jesus. He’d been there all along, I just took a long time to see it. He gives the only lasting freedom. As He said,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Now I want to make an important distinction. It was not a religious act that set me free. It is a relationship with Jesus – that is what true Christianity is all about, and what the bible teaches. (I’m not going to go any deeper into that topic now but will save it for another post.)
I’m going to get a bit more personal just to show that I’m not simply trying to throw out some Sunday school fluff or a religious bandaid.
I really do get the difference between captivity and freedom and have gone through both. I went from being an A and B student to getting on academic probation one semester because of skipping classes and not doing the assignments – which was a result of depression. One semester after college let out I spent a month holed up in my room at my parent’s house, hardly stepping foot outside because of anxiety and depression.
I have been so depressed that all I had energy for was lying in bed crying. I have been under such anxiety that it caused pain that felt like a knife ripping apart my soul. I have been in such fear that all I could do was curl in a fetal position and whimper.
And I have yelled at God and hated Him and told Him to leave me alone.
But when I got to where all other options were empty and no answers were satisfying, I looked for God and cried out to Him, and He was waiting, ready to save me.
Jesus Christ has given me true, lasting freedom. Do I still get depressed? Yes. Anxious? Yes. Fearful? Yes. But that is because life is a battle, even as a Christian. Christians go through stress just like everyone else. But there is a difference.
By being set free in Christ, even in difficult circumstances, I am able to rest when I trust Him. My soul can have peace. If I am stressing out then it is because I have taken my focus off of God.
“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
Jesus has indeed set me free, but I have to look to Him, keep up my relationship with Him, to keep living in that freedom.
And how does one keep up a relationship with an invisible God? I'm glad you asked. Just as you would keep up any relationship, stay in contact. Listen to Him - through His Word and His Holy Spirit, which you have if you are a true believer in Christ. Talk to Him - pray. It doesn't have to be poetic or impressive, just honest. And in keeping such lines of communication open you will find strength, peace, freedom and joy given by God's Spirit. He may be invisible, but His power and presence are very real.
Will it always be easy to trust God and remain in this relationship? No, because the stresses of life get in the way. But even when it gets difficult, it's not burdensome. What is burdensome is giving someone or something other than God the place of master. That is being subject again to a yoke of slavery, as in the verse above. Jesus is the only master who grants freedom as you serve Him.
Don’t just settle for escape. Grab a hold of freedom. Escape is temporary. It can be found in money, drugs, other people, and other things. But it never solves anything and it never lasts. God gives the only permanent freedom.
© Seeking Life Beyond
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Hi, I am Angela, and welcome to my blog. I am a woman trying to rise above the tides of this life, seeking to grow closer to God and share His love in the process.