Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bittersweet Freedom

Yesterday was the 4th of July. Independence Day. A celebration of Freedom in the United States. Freedom means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

I thank God that I live in a free country. Some might say that our freedom is being stripped away from us, but as far as freedom goes, we've got it a lot better than some. The fact that I woke up this morning and had a choice to worship God or not, and if my choice was to worship God, I could choose where to do that - at the church down the street, in the park, in my home, in my car. Some Christ followers woke up this morning in fear of persecution - of being arrested, beaten, maybe even killed if they were caught worshiping Jesus Christ as Lord. Yes, I'm thankful that I had that choice this morning. (In case you are wondering, I did choose to worship, and I did go to the church down the street. And, I continued to worship as I went to the park, went to lunch, mowed the lawn weeds, and even as I write this. I will continue to worship as it is built into who I am. We all worship. I choose to worship Jesus... but I digress...)

Another theme overwhelmed me yesterday. It was 1 year ago yesterday that I experienced a different kind of freedom. I decided to leave the only church I ever really knew, the only church were I had ever served, the church where I was baptized, the church I learned what it meant to really have a relationship with Jesus. It may seem strange that walking away from something so familiar would bring freedom, but there's a problem when the familiar keeps you from experiencing the extraordinary.

I spent a lot of time yesterday looking over the last year - a bit of an inventory I suppose. At first glance, nothing has really changed in the last year, except my surroundings and the people around me. I expected this year to be a time of healing, a time of seeking God, a time of rediscovering God's plan and how he wants to use me in it.

I still have some healing to do. OK... a lot of healing to do. It's been hard to find the balance between letting go of the past and looking toward the future, and going through the process of forgiveness. There is freedom in forgiveness. His forgiveness of my sins, and my forgiveness of others.

I have spent more time seeking God in the last year than ever before. It's been exciting and challenging and frustrating, all at the same time. I love it. I've been beat up, broken, encouraged, loved, and confused, just about every day. I don't always understand what he's doing. I often don't understand what he did in the past. But I trust him. I trust him more than ever. In that... there is freedom.

The more I seek God through his Word, the more I uncover his ultimate plan. Not his plan for me (we get stuck on that way too much), but his his plan over all. One of the first things I learned as a new believer was that God is always working out his plan. It's up to us to be listening to him to see where we fit in. He's going to accomplish his plan with or without me, and I'd rather be in the midst of the excitement rather than on the sidelines.

Where do I fit in to that plan? That part, I'm still struggling with. There are many things that I am passionate about... situations that evoke compassion. I don't think God's "calling" is based solely on emotion, but a prompting into action. I'm ready to move into action. I'm ready to be moved into action. I'm scared, but I'm listening and I'm ready. There's a freedom that comes when you actively participate in the action.

I ran into an old friend yesterday... someone from the old church. We talked for a long time, like nothing had changed. A part of me wanted to go back, to how things used to be, but I've been learning lately that once things change, they can't really go back to how they were. You can return to the place you came from, but it won't be the same. That's been my experience anyway.

So yesterday was bittersweet. As I remember the things I left behind and how life would be so much easier if I had never made the change, I know that leaving was the best choice, because it honored God. It's good to look back on the last year and reflect. But it's better to forget what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13), because there's freedom in that.


  1. God knows the best. He is the Father, ya know.

    I love the verse, Phil 3:13, because God doesn't want you to dwell in the past of hurt, shame or whatever that may weigh you down in serving Him in the present and in the future.

    May God continue to bless ya, Sister!

  2. What a testimony... reminds me of the scene in Indiana Jones and the last Crusade that underlined faith. Taking that unknown step.

    Then, we, as christians need to re-appreciate freedom. The type the gospel gives us.

  3. I don't know what God has in store for you, and I wouldn't presume to speculate in that regard. But be open to all the possibilities God might have for you.

    In particular ... sometimes, God does call people to go back where they started. To be sure, it's not an easy call, and it's not for everyone. But God sometimes calls us to hard things, in order to show His greatness.

    It pains me to hear that you've been hurt. I wish it weren't so. But I'm glad that God is beginning works of healing and forgiveness in you, despite what's happened.

    We'll always leave a light on for you ... either to help you find your way back, or to lead you onward towards the next light.