It’s a tricky thing.
It can be a goal to achieve or a privilege to enjoy or something that you never had. People have died for it and for lack of it. It can be a gift or a curse. Jesus thought it was important enough to die for so that we could live in it. And yet, I have wondered how many Christians truly experience it on a daily basis. Because I certainly did not. Peace and freedom from anxiety and depression seem impossible at times, to be frank. I am wired to make things more difficult than they have to be, and overthink all situations to be sure I am hitting my daily level of strife. (If I cared as much about my steps, I would experience more freedom in my waistline for sure! 🙄)
This is where the enemy likes to isolate me and fill my head with thoughts of shame, guilt and failure in all aspects of both my personal and professional life. I will fight with my husband about something minor and feel like I am Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men and I am determined to prove my case to, well, someone. I try to navigate waters I have never been in before and feel like a failure when I realize I am LOST. Anybody else ever been there?!
Then, I actually spend time with God because I know I need it, regardless of my feelings or circumstances; and realize my perspective is being provided by a deep shade of resentment. I have a job, a family and I am blessed. I begin to see that there is something better and deeper in this relationship with Jesus that I am missing out on.
I learned something this summer and fall and well, about two and half years now. The enemy will wait you out to see how far he can push you. And he doesn’t get tired. Not of trying to destroy you, anyway. He will put thoughts in your head that make you think, surely this season will be over, soon. Surely this is the max of my meter that God knows I can handle. Where is God, anyway? Is this real? He loves to plant seeds of doubt over a short or extended period. I have worked these fields of bitterness and fear long enough.
The Lord has been working deep roots of control and unforgiveness out of my soul. It is so freeing and yet, very unpleasant. I have gotten too used to “comfortable.” I don’t want to exercise because it isn’t comfortable. I am an emotional eater because it feels comfortable. Yet, those two things could be potentially lethal for me. And I choose them, because I have the freedom to. It leads to more anxiety and strife but I do what I hate. Sound familiar?
I like the apostle Paul way more as an adult. I appreciate some of his writings much more now than I did as a teen. He was a hardcore team player for any team he chose to play for. I can relate. I understand the all or nothing mentality and how it can be a huge motivating force or a hindrance… depending on my choice. God woke me up at 4 am in the form of my daughter’s stirring because she isn’t feeling great right now. I read and heard something in a new way that my soul was ready to hear, finally. I wanted to share it with you.
Galatians 5:13-26 The Message (MSG)
13-15 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.
If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
I love the visionary comparison to an orchard. Working it out in our daily lives, through each monotonous motion some days. I saw Melissa Helser speak about the importance of growing roots in freedom and love. (Podcast here and worth the 40 minutes or so to hear her drop some powerful truth bombs Growing Roots – Melissa Helser)
My favorite part is when she talks about how any fool can count the number of seeds in an apple, but no one can count the number of apple trees in the seeds. When we choose hourly, daily, to live in the Spirit, He takes care of sowing those seeds in our hearts. Sometimes, in spite of us, He will do it and move us on a heart level that we cannot deny it was anything other than Him.
I felt like someone other than myself needed to hear this today. ❤️