Freedom Isn’t Even Freedom, 04Jul
We love saying we are free in America, don’t we?. And it’s true that we are uber blessed to live in America, live the American dream and have so many freedoms not afforded to the world’s populations. BLESSED!
We also remember the phrase: “Freedom isn’t Free” knowing, but barely knowing, how intensely sacrificing our soldiers have fought for us to have the lifestyles that we are accustomed to. Likewise, in all free countries we will never completely understand how amazingly BLESSED we are for our ancestors sacrifice. And oppressed countries as well, those who fight and have fought for freedom pay heavy prices, endanger and sacrifice their own lives for the sake of those who come after them. My immigrant great-grandparents even left their whole lives behind to give me my future. Sacrifice.
So, freedom for me, for mankind, is earned thru blood, sweat and tears. Sound familiar? Whose blood, sweat and tears have been sacrificed to bring us into ETERNAL freedom? You know this – ETERNAL FREEDOM IS FROM JESUS.
Jesus was ransomed. Jesus sacrificed and was sacrificed for each and every one of us. Jesus lived day to day by praying and living by His Father’s instructions. So should we. Jesus showed obedience… Light came into the world. Follow the Light. We should live as the servants of our Father, like Jesus. Find Light in darkness. We should realize the level of sacrifice we can and must make to follow our Lord. We are His!
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.”
My life phrase should not be “I need freedom to be me!” should it? My personal phrase should be: “I am the servant of the Lord” – “Live as God’s slaves” – ask Mary, ask Paul, ask anyone who drops their nets and follows Jesus if they regretted their decision to Follow Jesus – NEVER. It is not easy to sacrifice what we are called to sacrifice but if you have “tasted and seen of the sweetest of Loves” (a song lyric streaming thru my ears) then you know servant life is the only choice. Complete obedience – NO LUKEWARM FAITH. You must trust that the Lord Himself has your best interests at heart even when you can’t fathom reasons. You must also accept and embrace your humanness and mistake-sin-prone ways and REACH FOR JESUS.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1Peter 2
I know I can personally witness to this “hunted down by the Lord for my own good” feeling, a Psalm 139 existence, that Freedom isn’t Freedom… Faith means Following. “I am the handmaiden of the Lord”…. Oh yes, I see it, I have been picked up and moved by the Lord in unbelievable ways… especially recently… If I forget that I work FOR HIM, He will remind me. I have seen situations go down that I have no control over, but HE DOES. We all work for the Lord, are blessed servants/slaves to His Plan.
PEOPLE WORK THRU THE SPIRIT even if they don’t know it.
I have seen situations where I have been picked up by my ears and transported into life experiences – I have lived the VBS theme “Shipwrecked Rescued by Jesus” over and over – I have seen myself transported in hyper-speed like Philip called to paraclete-alongside to teach and baptize the Ethiopian along the road, then INSTANTLY be transported by God into another place. ZAPPED OUT of one scene and into another. Yeah, that’s me. I work for the Lord. Therefore, I best learn to buckle up, get ready for the ride of my life. PUT MY LIFE LAST, HIS LIFE MISSION FIRST: to work to bring all to eternal life. SERVE
Postscript – SERVE.
While writing this, I am up at my childhood home. My Dad is declining in health but still commands respect and has points to make. His slowed processing from his strokes make him upset when he can’t get a word in edgewise in our VERY talkative family. He came into a break of the dinner conversation with a story that seemingly didn’t fit the current conversation (strokes do that, steal the quickness of processing – Plus we are REALLY talkative, hard for ANYONE to get in a word edgewise)… My Dad retold a story that made him chuckle – at the end, my brother asked what prompted that story at that time (seemingly out of place) my Dad pointed to me. I got it. My brother understood only that my Dad wanted to relate a church story knowing about my devotion to church work. Late to conversation but spot on to my processing, I understood what the Spirit was telling me (and retelling me) deep in my soul at that very moment. My faith, my work, my non-freedom, my servant role, my gratitude to how the Lord uses me, ALL that rolled into a small detail within the story my Dad told…. I could see the connection.
Here is the story that connects: my Dad in life and in his volunteer work for the Lions Club (motto is WE SERVE) knows/knew many people. Howard, was a Lion from Long Island, fellow volunteer, gregarious man, loved and loving, was a great friend to my father. Jovial, larger than life, fun, giving. He and his family were camping near the camp that is a Lion’s work project. My father already started laughing at the thought of his dear friend. Howard was Jewish and called my Dad “Saint James”. So, one summer my father needed a minister for the Lions camp worship service. Howard mentions: “my camp neighbor is a priest or retired priest, but he doesn’t have vestments to wear”. My father in all his connections locates and borrows vestments in a slim compact case and carries them to the Lions camp and hands them to Howard. A third Lion, Tony Renzi, shockingly says: where did you get those! My father and Howard start pulling his chain about my father having been a Monseigneur before getting married. (Pause for my father’s rolling laughter). The story is so funny to my father, one would have to know the characters to understand the laughter, but I KNEW the connection the Spirit had made with me at that very moment – in that box – in that small box.
See, I have heard the story many times. It is the part where my father describes how compact and unique these vestments were. That’s it. That’s my connection – in my church work I remind people that we are called to serve in singing and dance and teaching children, in leading worship, dinners and committees, IN JOY!!! We are personally NOT having to serve in foxholes, with bullets flying, mortars crumbling lives and at battle fronts. (Actually, many traditional and new warzones still exist but we are in a first-world cushioned life). We get the joy in living because of the sacrifices of our battle-brave warriors.
AND eternally-minded, we are to serve ALREADY knowing WE ARE FREE from death. Christ, ransomed for us, has given us His life in exchange for ours. Therefore, we give ours in honor and sacrifice for His. We must continue to run the good race.
My Dad pointed to me, that story was relating to me. I needed to hear my own advice – to remember the intense JOY in how I get to serve the Lord and the opportunities that I am given. It was a story retold for me – deeply – much much further than even my Dad could know… but the Spirit does see in and thru my head heart soul. The Spirit flowing inside my exhausted self knew I needed to rehear how blessed I was to be in His service with the gifts He gave me and the knowledge of how to use them. My gift to Him in that moment was presence. My gift to my Dad and Mom and my family was to bring my children back up North to connect over dinner and monopoly and fireworks. To be the meat in the logistical sandwich generation of children and aging parents. To recognize the opportunity… To be the opportunist He has made me… To serve…
Our Father, our all-knowing Father is pointing to us. Are we ready to hear what He is saying? Where are the opportunities to serve? What obstacles is He asking us to find tactful ways thru? Are we ready to serve Him and His mission in thick and thin? Our challenges in serving are definitely NOT as grueling as jumping into and out of foxholes. How could we even compare our stress of organizing music and singing, children’s activities, church services and small groups to jumping into foxholes. We don’t know how BLESSED we are with our “first-world problems”… Yes, we have serious issues, plagues of our time, but we have to HUMBLY put it ALL into perspective and SERVE. So yes, in addition, we need to do what we can in teaching others to find their own chariots, their own paraclete moments, their own mission fields. These activities and war-fronts and joy-fronts will change. God stays the same. We must change and allow God to zap us like paraclete Philip into the new scenes. Go ahead, ask Moses if it was easy moving a nation of people. It is NOT always easy work is it? But God is there. It is still our duty to serve Him. Moses picked up a snake, by its tail no less. So surely, we can pick up the work that God commands us to do. We can even move away from our comfort zones into compliance with His Plan.
Our freedom is not freedom and our service to Him is required. Thank the warriors for our future. Thank Jesus for being the Way the Truth the Life. Thankfully we can be living our lives for Him.
Snap in your seatbelts, my paraclete friends, God has us on the move.
Find and pack your service tools for travel. Hold onto Him. It is time for us to GO SERVE.
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3