freedom

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Freedom, to me, is one of the most overused Americanized words. I grew up thinking that freedom meant doing whatever I wanted. “Its a free country” we say as we do something we probably shouldn’t. “Yay America- Land of the Free!” we shout and sing before retreating back to the confining chains we find have become sense of comfort in our own lives. What chains are these? They’re the secret things, binding us to sorrow and grief. They’re the things that if someone else knew, they’d call us fake. They’re the things that we outwardly judge others for with our friends, but go home and do the same when no one’s looking. They’re the things that we hate about ourselves, the things we wish we could stop, but we’re scared to break the chains because then we’d see how wounded and cut up they have made us. Because then, we’d have to deal with the issues that cause them. It can be scary, walking away from something that we’ve grown so used to. What if we have to face the issues that caused it?

When Jesus died for us on the cross, He did it to set us free and save our souls from all sin. Even the secret sin we don’t confess, but try to hide as though God isn’t with us when we commit it. When we choose to accept Jesus, to love Him, to make Him the Savior of our lives, the Bible tells us that we become a new creation. That our old self has passed away, and in Him a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Does this mean that as soon as we take this step of faith, that all of our chains are broken? YES. Does it mean that we may not realize this and put the chains back on ourselves? I would never put a limit on God, and I believe that for some of us, starting a new life in Christ means never relapsing into our old ways in some way or another. Lord, bless these people who see you so clearly and feel your love so strongly from the beginning of your relationship that they can live in freedom so quickly.

For me, it isn’t happening like this. God is chipping away little pieces of me that don’t reflect Him, and as He’s doing that, sometimes I flinch away. “No, God, that’s not really a big deal right now. Let’s work on something else first.” “Maybe if I set my mind on the fact that I’m free of it, I’ll actually just be free and won’t have to work on this at all.” These are actual thoughts that have gone through my mind. My mouth is saying, “Yes Lord, mold me into who You have created me to be,” while my heart is saying, “That seems too painful, too hard, let’s deal with that later.”

But the good news, the great news, is that Jesus died for ALL SIN. He didn’t just die for the white lies and gossip, He died for the murder and the adultery and the lust and the dishonesty and the greed and the impatience. He died for it all, because He loves us so much and desperately wants to spend eternity with us. And He wants us to accept that He broke our chains and wants us keep them off of our wrists! This is such a hard concept for me to grasp because I can’t figure out why I keep going back to the things that hurt God and hurt me. Every time God shows up for me, every time He does something wonderful or reveals something amazing to me, I always walk back to the wall and chain myself back up soon after. And I just keep asking myself, why? Galatians 5:1 tells us to stand firm and not let ourselves be burdened again by slavery. 

Its possible, the Bible tells us, to walk away from these chains for good. But how?

Earlier today, after I listened to a great message about freedom, I had a moment with God and knew I had to write it out. I pictured (as best I could) Jesus on the cross. I wanted to bring myself to that place, to really see His pain. I had one particular sin in mind that I still sometimes find myself walking back and chaining myself back up to. As I pictured the cross, I tried to picture myself nailing this sin to the cross. It was then that I realized, what does this sin look like? How big is it compared to the cross? Do I just write the word on an index card and nail it up there? The more I prayed through this visual, I began to realize that this isn’t easy because I let the sin become a part of me. And I felt God tell me:

When our sins become a part of us, it is hard to leave them on the cross. They’ve been a  part of us for so long. They’re stuck to us. But, they are literal dead weight, holding us back from all God has for us. Its painful to lose a part of ourselves, especially the parts that are so deeply (and painfully) rooted. But when we nail them to the cross, WE ARE FREE.

I realized then that though the chains have already been broken by Jesus, I pick them up because I have let them become a part of me. God didn’t do that, but I attached myself to them. In breaking them and shattering them so that I never put them back on, it may break other parts of me. It may mean resolving issues in myself I haven’t faced or have blocked out. But God desires brokenness, because that’s when He can mold us back together the way He created us to be. We can only do this with Him, in His name. I haven’t been able to truly find freedom because I haven’t given it completely to Him. He wants to take it, to deal with it, and live with us in freedom. The process might be long and messy (maybe it won’t be), but I’ve had a small taste of that freedom that comes from leaving that dead weight on the cross that God allowed for just this very purpose, and I never want to go back.

 

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