I mentioned at the start of 2016 that my word for this year is F R E E, the goal being that I would wake up every morning with the belief, knowledge, and joy that I am F R E E and that I already have everything I need to live F R E E. Beginning in 2016, I no longer want to live under the weights of guilt, insecurity, pressure and shame that keeps me focused on things that don’t really matter and striving toward something that is unattainable. I want my life to be less about what is seen and more about what is unseen – the deeper and richer things of Him and His kingdom.
I’ve been participating in this 10 week Freedom Class offered by our church and I’m about three-quarters of the way through the material. All I can say is, “WOAH.” My mind has been absolutely blown by what it means to break free and live free each and every day.
You see, freedom isn’t exactly like what I thought it would be. If I were to show you my vision of freedom at the beginning of this year, it would be a picture of me standing at the top of a mountain, hands outstretched, face held high up to the sun, taking in a deep breath and basking in the wide open spaciousness of creation and the blessings of God all around me.
While I do believe this is an awesome and inspiring picture of what freedom CAN be, I’m learning that this isn’t ALL that it is. Because in order to get to that epic mountain peak, guess what? We have to walk through the valley and up some pretty dangerous terrain.
So if I was going to re-do the picture of freedom, this is what you could envision – me climbing up that mountain with the sting of tears in my eyes and sweat on my brow, with stops along the way to sometimes cry, and other times laugh, and to reflect, repent, and turn to God for help over and over and over again. Not as pretty as the first picture. A lot more messy, frankly, but honest and raw and vulnerable and more transforming than it would be to skip all of it and go straight to the top.
See, I think the first picture I had in mind captures what I’ll feel at the end of my life when I finally enter eternity. But the second picture is what freedom looks like for me in the here and now, and for the duration of my days here on earth.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize:
Breaking free isn’t just a one-time event, it’s something that will happen throughout the course of my life as I seek to live like and love Jesus with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Freedom is a lifestyle of leaning into God, letting Him tear down the walls I’ve built up, and breaking the chains of the sins and strongholds in my life through repentance and walking in the opposite spirit of those things I’ve put before Him.
Freedom looks like experiencing Christ’s love and being filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from Him.
Every. Single. Day.
As I was sitting in class following our Sunday service a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself how different my life would have been if I had heard and understood and put into practice the freedom available to me in Christ when I was younger, specifically during my teenage years when things were a bit turbulent at home and I was seeking to know God (as the only believer in my family) and find myself and fit in with the other kids in my school. Those were difficult days, friends, and I feel like if I had known this – if I had really understood this – a lot of the lies I believed about myself and the world, and the behaviors I engaged in would never have happened. I also thought to myself how different everything would be too, if generations back in my family had understood this concept as well. Who knows – I may not even be here now if even some of my family members embraced and lived in freedom long ago.
But we can’t go back. And that’s okay. What we can do is learn from those experiences, acknowledging them for what they are, renouncing what is not of Him, and following Him for what He desires and dreams for our lives.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m climbing the mountain, day-by-day. I’m reading His Word so I can know Him more and know who I am in Him (His original design for my life). I’m recognizing the thought patterns and the actions I’ve exhibited that are not of Him and confessing these things, asking Him to replace them with what is of Him. I’m choosing to believe that He truly does live in me and that I have access to His power at any moment of any day or night. And I’m trusting Him to give me opportunities to rest in Him and praise Him for the work He’s done at smaller peaks along the way to the big peak I’ll reach at the end of this journey.
Freedom isn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, we serve a God who gives us everything that we need and makes us mighty warriors, able to do all things through Him who gives us strength. Amen.
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