Freedom to Do What?
Another celebration of our country’s freedoms will occur in just a few days. The focus is generally on friends, food, and fireworks. Our country’s freedoms somehow seem to get lost in the celebrations each year. This is a sad reality, but an even sadder reality occurs in our everyday life concerning freedoms. I tend to forget these freedoms and spent some time recently reminding myself of them. These freedoms seem to come on the flip side of some things I am naturally bound to do.
With the occurrence of COVID-19, I am more aware of my seemingly loss of personal freedoms during 2020. I am naturally bound to want to go into public spaces (businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, churches, parks, and other places) when I want to go and how I want to go (with or without a mask). However, if I believe God has called me to compassion (Philippians 2:3-4), then I will think of others’ needs when I make decisions about my public entries. Furthermore, I will be gracious and forgiving as God leads others to different decisions about when and how to go into public spaces (Ephesians 4:1-3, 29-32). These issues trigger some deep-seated opinions in people backed by personal experience, needs, and perspectives. I am divinely free to depend on God to give me wisdom to make my decisions (James 1:5) and put on humility, compassion, and love toward others (Colossians 3:12-14) as they make decisions contrary to mine.
Also, I am naturally bound to blame others when difficult things come my way. Ever looking to pin the blame on someone for the pain I suffer whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. However, if I believe that God does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3) and sustains everything (Colossians 1:17), then there is no human to blame for my difficult circumstances or relationships. This suffering could be a car wreck, broken relationships, loss of job, or another kind of hardship. I am divinely free to trust in God’s goodness, wisdom, power, and love.
I am naturally bound to feel sorry for myself for the hurtful events and relationships in my childhood, marriage, family, friends, and acquaintances. Life and relationships are painful and the pain needs to be acknowledged. And I am naturally bound to getting stuck in rehearsing and rehashing the lot I have had to suffer in life through others. However, if I believe that God has given me everything I need for life and godliness through which I am a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), then I can depend on Him to enable me to live out the life He has given me in a way that honors Him. I can move on and embrace the fact that I am His chosen instead of focusing on the shadowy side of events and relationships in my life. I am divinely free to trust in God’s transforming power (2 Corinthians 3:18) through the hurtful events and relationships in my life.
I am naturally bound to be afraid of devastating circumstances created by things such as an unexpected turn of events like a pandemic (COVID-19). Realistically, people have lost lives, jobs, finances, social freedoms, security, and more in recent months. Fear crouches at the door in many aspects of our lives these days. Racial injustices, rebel lootings, reoccurring protests plague our nation feeding fear in many. However, if I believe that God is present and takes care of His own as I take refuge in Him (Psalm 91), I have nothing to fear (Isaiah 41:10). I am divinely free to trust God to be eternally present for my good and His glory (Ephesians 1:11-14).
I have a choice each day in each circumstance and relationship to be bound to my natural feelings and actions, to be selfish, to blame, to whine, or to fear. Or I can choose to depend on God in each circumstance and relationship and be freed to my divine feelings and actions and to trust God and His goodness, wisdom, power, and love.
I don’t know about you, but I think it is time for me to stop being bound to what I naturally feel and do and depend on God to be freed to live out what He has divinely given me to feel and do. So, this Fourth of July, let’s be grateful for the freedoms we have in Christ as believers and live in them.
For your consideration: Jerry Bridges’ book, 31 Days toward Trusting God Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2013. Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.
- “The Seven Best Places In Pittsburgh For July 4th Fireworks,” 2020, accessed June 29, 2020, https://www.kennywood.com/pittsburgh-4th-of-july-celebrations. ↑
- Henri J. M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), 61. ↑