Thursday, July 19, 2012
Toward Freedom I
A few weeks ago my mountain bike finished a lengthy stay in the shop for major repairs. I'd parked it the year before because of the expense of needed repairs, but in February I finally realized how much I missed riding in the mountains. The expense would be worth it.
This was part of a larger pattern. Freedom is hard to do, even for one who has a reputation as an iconoclast. When God plucked me from the edge of the terminal hole, I figured freedom was gone. If he were going to save me he'd expect obedience. Something wouldn't allow me to kill myself--life does cling--and anything seemed better than more days amid the dust of a failed life. Even slavery.
God created the world in all its range from small to large, subtle to overwhelming. Surely he'd have no trouble breaking a single man to the harness. That isn't what he did. He plays a deep game, our God, and my experience has been one of ongoing mystery and subtlety.
The first few years I couldn't figure out which way we were headed. Too much going on, too many of my assumptions in the way (which I recognize now), too strong a grip on my own self-definition. I gradually learned that God's intent isn't to break me, but to give me freedom to grow beyond self-definition.
This is deeply frightening. Never before have I been free to grow, simply grow, as light and opportunity lead. The freedom to ride a bicycle into the local mountains to hear the owls, to see the flowers, to feel the wind, it all seems simple but it isn't. I'm used to boundaries, self-drawn. God gently suggests I can move beyond them. Yikes.
Which brings up the question: if belief in God is a response to crisis, a life not worth living, what happens when everything changes? Crisis lived through, life worth living. Will I forget God? I could, but God has gentle ways to remind me: he simply withdraws some of his ongoing protection, to remind me of what life without him is like.
2012 July 19