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Does Freedom Frighten You?

July means summer is in full swing! Let Freedom Ring!


We enjoy barbeques, pool parties, camping trips, vacations and, more than anything, loosened schedules. It’s like everyone is lowering themselves - with a refreshing beverage - into a lawn chair, turning their faces to the warm sun and taking a collective exhale. Aaahhhh. . .


Ok, wait! It’s hot. I’m sweating. And there are bugs. What’s next?!


Anyone relate? I think I enjoyed summer much more as a child when an open schedule was an invitation to relaxed playdates and longer evenings to linger. But, even then, seeing the return of Back-to-School ads brought me the most glee. Now that I’m an adult, I realize why. Schedules and structure are safe for me. Assessing expectations + fulfilling them = approval and reward. Simple math, earning A’s, Law living. I’m good at that, but….


Freedom frightens me.


It’s too loose, too free-form, too wide and too left open to the imagination. There are no rules or guidelines, no expectations explicitly laid out to tell me how to “freedom” correctly. What if I take a risk and something awful happens? Or something wonderfully unexpected happens? Or what if neither anything awful nor wonderfully unexpected happens and I have spent time and energy anticipating both in vain? Either my pessimism is rewarded or my hopes are dashed. Neither option sounds awesome.


So, somewhere along the way, I decided freedom isn’t for me. But what I didn’t realize I was actually saying to God was that even though I know He says life with Him is freedom, I don't know how I can trust Him because I can’t control the outcome.


Recently, this is what God has been showing me as I asked him with tears and lament, “God! Why do I STILL struggle with this habitual issue?! I’ve tried everything!! Why haven’t you chosen to free me from it yet?!” He gently replied, “Child, I declared ‘It is finished’ unlocking the shackle on that chain once and for all, but you prefer the familiarity of your chains to freedom with Me.”


After the initial shock of that revelation, I felt him kindly continue, “You know each of your chain’s links, the self-righteous martyrdom of living under its weight and the risk-free safety of its restriction. But that is not the life I ever intended for you. A free life with Me is abundant and wild, unknown and sweet, fulfilling but risk-filled, for you but for others, uncomfortable but enough. I am not a tidy trinket you can put on your chain like a charm bracelet. I am The Almighty God of the universe! I am faithful, trustworthy and for your good. But, child, you cannot have both chains and freedom. I will let you choose Who or what you want most.”


Full stop. Heart check.


It was as if Jesus himself asked me the same question He asked the man at the pool of Bethesda who had spent 38 years in the agonizing bondage of bodily paralysis, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:2-6.


Eyes closed. Deep breathing. Soul searching...I really do want to get well, God.


So, He told my heart to begin the journey. To take only the next step. To keep choosing Him instead of the chain. To trust Him fully.


And so here I am in the second year of a new adventure. A return to studying and exams at 40+ years of age pursuing a completely different career. Going into the unknown without the whole picture, but sharp confirmation of this next step to take, in the area of fitness and wellness no less-- a place of my deepest pain, failures, shame, insecurities and habitual struggles. God doesn’t play, y’all! This is uncomfortable for sure.


BUT, it is also a space where God is giving me the grace to choose freedom over bondage. Not that I have already attained it. My healing is coming in the going.


Here, God says I am no longer bound to strive for approval through performance or achievement. He says because of the cross I am approved.


God says my value is no longer determined by the number on the scale or the size of my jeans. He says my value lies simply in His making me in His image.


I am free to take up more space with my voice, thoughts and actions instead of spending every waking moment feeling like I’d be taken more seriously if I was skinnier. God says I matter, right now. And He says others need this freedom, too. Right now!


He is opening doors into spaces - and with people - I would dare not risk to enter previously for fear of rejection or inadequacy. But He says, “I want to be in that room with them. You go and carry Me with you. Speak for Me. Love like Me.” This new freedom constantly feels like we’re ticking together up the hill of a roller coaster in preparation for…ZOOMING to launch forward again into this freedom work. It is uneasy, queasy, uncontrollable, exhilarating, soul-touching and unmistakable. It is to see God work.


Freedom still frightens me.


But walking daily in freedom by God's faithful love is overcoming that fear. The chains are losing their power and appeal.


Galatians 5:1 (Passion Translation) says, “At last we have freedom, for Christ has set us free! We must always cherish this truth and firmly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”


Each day I can choose. Friend, you can choose also. Bondage or freedom. Fear or love. Self or God.


God is willing. Freedom is waiting.


Do you want to get well?


 


Jill Chrusciel is a good friend of the A&F Ministry Friend, has written about what freedom in Christ looks like for her. She is a guest blogger this month and will join us at the WHOLE conference in September to share her passion for integrating physical and spiritual wellness.

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