Is Freedom Worth it? Or, Do We Have it Already?

This picture sums up better than I’ve ever been able to with words, how God’s word, His law, and His expectations are lovingly freeing to those obedient to Him.

God doesn’t desire to put us in a boring box.  He yearns to be near us.  To protect us.  And even those that fully understand this start to feel trapped at times.  “I can’t do this, I can’t do that.  Why is God smothering me and keeping me from fun?”  It doesn’t happen overnight.  But eventually, it makes sense to us that we need to get out of that cage.

Look back at that picture again.  This is more like God’s point of view.  He will allow people to come and go… but He really, really wants you to stay.  He loves you, wants to keep you safe, and knows that predators literally hide above, below, and on all sides of your life.  The enemy is ruthless, cunning, and knows how to work through friends, family, loved ones, businesses, and even strangers on the road.

What is life like inside of the cage?  It’s wonderful.  I’m safe.  I’m loved.  I’m accepted.  I gave up bad habits that were only holding me back.  Now I can go farther.  Did you catch that?  I have MORE freedom in God’s embrace.  He is with me wherever I go.  Like children learning to walk, we aim to get further away from the parents that want to keep us on the ground.  Do they hate us?  No, but they don’t want us to fall either.  They construct cages and barriers of all kinds for our safety.  If it were up to us, we’d wander into traffic out of sheer curiosity.

Sadly, we never grow out of this reflex.  To test our limits and see how far, high, and fast we can go is seemingly born within us.  Helmets weren’t invented before the first fall.  They were thought up after incident after incident.  Eventually someone thought, there has to be a better way.  Wear this!  It will protect you.  God’s love and protection is little different.  It’s not just in case… It’s to save eternal lives.

Consider what Jesus has done for you.  What lengths He went through to save you.  Measure that against His wisdom.  It really is freeing to forgive others.  It truly is satisfying to not judge others.  Telling the truth?  Why, its the healthiest thing I’ve ever done.  I don’t have to bother with alibi’s, details I may have forgotten, or cross checking stories with others.  I’m hoping the next time I’m tempted to wander outside of the cage, I remember how wonderful it really is inside.  That Satan wants us out and he will tell any lie he can to get us out from under God’s shield.

And if I can’t remember that, I hope this picture helps. It’s a reminder of how ridiculous the thought is of trying to leave in the first place.  And for what?  So I can gossip a bit more?  Or to make sure my politics are heard?  Or I just don’t feel like anyone in here gets who I am?  lies, lies, lies.  This picture tells the truth of what is outside.  I hope you can see it too.

Don’t Throw it all out

Imagine you are a restaurant owner and you serve food on trays.  Guess what happens when people throw their trash away at the end of the meal?  The tray goes in.  Either accidentally or sometimes even on purpose… you just lost revenue because you have to buy another tray that should have been reusable.  Or worse, you get to go dumpster diving.

How do you solve this problem?  You can post signs.  “Please don’t throw away the trays!”.  That won’t work.  Both groups of aforementioned people will continue to do this as a sign won’t prevent mistakes or evil intentions.

You could keep buying trays, sift through trash, hire staff to bus tables, start buying disposable trays… all of this costs a lot of money and none of it solves the root problem.  The trash can is too accessible to the consumer.

Someone had a brilliant idea.  Make the hole to the trash can smaller than the tray.  Genius!  Now, even if you want to, you can’t dispose of the tray.

trash-chute-drop-in-s-s

Think about how we deal with problems.

When something troublesome comes our way, we generally handle it in a few different ways based on the issue.  We dump everything in the trash and leave it all behind, running from the issue.  We react too quickly, making mistakes and leaving a mess.  Or we ignore it and let it all build up.  All of this was the trash before the small hole was added.  In other words, there was no filter, and trash piled up either in or outside of the can.

Jesus said, give me your trash!  OK, it wasn’t worded exactly like that, but it was close.  He installed Himself as our filter.  He not only takes our sins, but He takes our burdens and our everyday pains.  He listens, He cares, He comforts.  He provided a way to allow us to clean up our lives without getting lost in the process.  If you’ve ever encountered an honest, God loving, Christ following, Bible obeying Christian, you’ve most likely wondered what makes them so happy.  How can they smile during crisis mode?  Do they ever have bad days?

The answer to all of those questions and more is that they live under an umbrella of blessings that come from God.  He makes all things good and right.  It doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen.  Even in the can, the trash still stinks.  But, He provides peace, understanding, security, and most importantly, help during those times.  We could take the trash directly to the incinerator.  Hopefully, you clearly see the problem there.  We don’t need that kind of access.  We need boundaries.  We need guidance.  Otherwise, we would burn up with the trash.  Many people see the Bible as a book of rules.  If you read a little more carefully, there are few “rules” included.  I would say the majority of the book is either directly detailing, or referencing God’s love for us.  And because He loves us, He guides us.  He shapes us.  He makes us into useful, purposeful, joyful people.

Even some of that very ‘guiding’ can be painful.  Becoming a Christian is like a form of detox all on its own.  We sacrifice things, we leave things behind, we change habits.  Because they are rules?  No!  Let me answer that another way… NOOOO!!!!  We do it because its the best thing for us.  It brings us closer to God and our Savior.  It makes us complete.  Our eyes are opening to the trappings of the world and how certain things can hold us down and entangle us in unimportant issues, attach us to worthless trinkets, or bombard us in meaningless character attacks.  One by one, we crumple up the garbage that was never intended for man to carry with them… and we toss it out.  God speaks to us and we have learned, He knows best.  So we yearn to listen to Him and obey.

How does it feel?  Fantastic!  Weight lifted.  Sites narrowed.  Purpose defined.  And when you develop that relationship with Jesus, it feels so good to answer that age old question that parents and spouses love to ask… “Did you take the trash out?”  We can say, “yes”, but we know Jesus did it for us.