Monday, January 27, 2014
Toward Freedom XVI
1. Freedom is the Revolution
It's simple, right? You become free, and everything is fine thereafter. Becoming free seems to be the main challenge, but once that's done we link hands and walk peacefully toward the expanding horizon.
I'm not so sure. The day after the revolution is... the day after the revolution. The conditions that led to the need for revolution are still there but masked by euphoria caused by throwing off the obvious chains. Life goes on, and habits formed before the revolution are much more deeply rooted than anything that has sprouted since.
There's also the fact that removing fetters changes everything. What was once clear and simple--choices are limited when one is bound in iron--is now fogged in multiple grey areas. Slavery in Egypt begins to look very attractive after peering into the strange wilderness, eye to mountain range.
Becoming free is complex enough. Staying free is a bigger challenge.
2. I Am That I Am
I am sick unto death of apologizing for who I am. I am made in God's image; everything that I am came from him. From the day I was born I grew up believing I'd never been good enough. When told something, even non-verbally, often enough, one can't help but take it in.
God has his own message for me. I seldom hear him because of my own strident beliefs and expectations. I know what life is like. I've lived it. God patiently keeps whispering, never raising his voice. It took years to dig the hole and it's taking years to climb out.
The process isn't helped by how strange everything looks outside. My survival has always depended upon me, and strangeness is the major enemy; steps into new territory, no matter how kindly guided, still are strange and I lack the internal confidence that I can meet strangeness without hiding behind resistant walls. I have tried to force myself to live beyond the walls, and, like many historical revolutions this works for a short time. Then there's a reaction that violently pulls me back into safety.
No amount of force is strong enough. No one forced Peter to climb over the railing and step onto the storm-thrashed sea. His personal revolution was coming to a very personal end, and then he experienced a miracle. Peter didn't have to apologize for his impetuosity, nor for the results of his humanity. He's Peter. That's how he was made. Jesus reached out and picked him up as he had picked up so many other individual people during his ministry. By grace we were made, and grace enables each day.
3. Eternal Kindness
One night I was feeling especially burdened. Why is it that Christians, who have been promised that Jesus' burden is light, so often act and talk as if they're carrying boulders heavier than anyone else can pick up? Where does the burden come from? If Jesus promises that his yoke is light, then it's not coming from him.
Looking at the alternative is frighteningly freeing.
"Where would you like me to go today, God?"
"But.. what if I make a mistake?"
Can I really count on him offering me water beside the well on a hot, heavy day? Did Peter earn that hand out of the encroaching sea? How long will God be patient with my fears? If I ask him for comfort for the 777th time and he responds, what happens on number 778?
By God's grace I am holy. I will be comforted, will experience kindness, as much as I allow. The revolution begins now, and in an eternity of next moments. Everything changes while what matters stays the same.
Writing implies confidence. Words must be combined in a way that makes sense, and that often presents a stronger face to the world than actually exists. My days are up and down, as I learn the subtleties of life without chains.
2014 January 27