Freedom in Surrender

Shackles

When I ask people to share what Freedom means to them, some answer with a negative “freedom FROM” something:  freedom from prison, freedom from religion, freedom from hunger, freedom from fear or anxiety, freedom from some form oppressive external control.  Others will answer with a positive “freedom TO” something:  freedom to do what I want when I want.  Here in the United States, our whole society is built on the concept of freedom. We expect the freedom to choose what we will or will not do, and when that freedom is constrained, anger and blatant outrage erupt.

Bill of RightsMost people would agree to limit their pursuit of freedom if that pursuit were to cause harm to another. However, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, why not do as we please? Our economy is based on the capitalistic freedom to earn unlimited income by merging creativity, hard work and risk, with focused time and effort. Even the Bill of Rights that is central to our very Constitution in the United States begins with the freedoms that every American enjoys just by living in this country. Everything that sets us apart as a nation is based on our freedoms.

When God calls us to freedom, He calls with a different intention; He calls us to a “freedom IN.” We find freedom IN something that appears by its very nature to contradict freedom: surrender. We are free to surrender our own agenda in favor of His greater agenda for us. We find freedom when we are found in Him (Gal. 2:20). We find freedom when we are tethered to Him at the plow of daily life (Matt. 11:29-30). We find freedom when we relinquish our rights for the sake of another (I Cor. 8:9, 13). We find freedom to embrace life.

Surrender

Freedom IN is contrasted with slavery. We used to be slaves to all kinds of anxieties, worries, resentments, guilts, even shame. But in God we have freedom when we surrender those things to Him. We don’t have to carry those burdens around anymore. We can choose to hold on to these enslavements for the seeming power gains we may believe they provide us, like the power of unforgiveness or bitterness. In the end, however, it is we who become enslaved by the unforgiveness and bitterness, not those over whom we believe we hold power. When we take His yoke, His burden on ourselves, we share in the freedom to live with unburdened joy and life-giving peace. I believe these are things worth surrendering for!

Exercise your freedom to stop living in the past or future. Give up the false sense of power in slavery. Choose instead to embrace love, joy and peace by surrendering to His will for you this very moment. Welcome the peace of real freedom in surrender.

Advertisements
Standard

The “Grass is Greener” Game

Image

“I’m tired of being shy & timid…I wish I were bolder, like my friend so and so.”  This is how the conversation started on one particular day.  Other days it began with, “I’m not as good at doing this particular thing as she is.”  or  “I’m not as gifted/talented as that person is.”  or  “I’m not as pretty as she is.”  or  “I wish I were more like her.”  These put-downs are common in many women I see.

A similar variation on this theme goes like this:  “Her life is better.”  “Her husband is more loving.”  “She’s better/prettier/happier… than I am.”  “Her circumstances are better than mine.”  “She’s so fortunate/lucky.”  These are all adaptations of one thing:  the risky game of coveting.

Webster’s dictionary defines coveting as: “To want something earnestly that you do not have; to feel an inordinate desire for what belongs to another…to own or to enjoy.”  The thesaurus gives several synonyms for covet:  ache, crave, die for, hunger for, itch for, long for, lust after, pant after, pine for, want, wish for, yearn for.

Coveting someone else’s life circumstances is a dangerous preoccupation.  Not only is it one of the “Big 10” (the 10 Commandments:  “Thou shall not covet!”), but it’s totally dissatisfying and unrewarding, and you’re always guaranteed to lose.  There is no way to ever win the game of coveting or comparing.  We always end up falling short in our own eyes.

Image

One of my favorite responses to this game is to point out that “grass grows greener over septic tanks” and also in conditions of deep fertilization (i.e. manure!).  Additionally, sometimes what appears to be green grass is merely a different type of weed than what we find in our own lives, and we have not been prepared to deal with that particular weed.

Yet other times grass is indeed lush and green elsewhere, but at the cost of intense micro-managing, persistent practice, patient attention, or limited focus (doing one thing well while all else is merely adequate).

Image   Image   Image

God did not create you to be anyone but YOU.  He created you lovely and unique.  No one else has your specific combination of character strengths & weaknesses, interests & dislikes, hobbies & habits, quirkinesses, joys & miseries, your past, your genetics.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  Also, no one has been given the particular piece of ground you have:  your family members, your job, your friends and relationships, your life circumstances.

God created you uniquely and specifically to be THE most effective person in your particular sphere of influence (your patch of grass) for a particular reason and season.  You were not created to be more suited than anyone else in THEIR circumstances (or in their yard); you were created to excel in your own particular plot of ground, and to make it the loveliest tract within your control.  It’s your choice how you will tend and care for the garden you have been given.  Will you make your patch of ground into a flower garden? a vegetable garden? a theme garden?  Or will you refuse to tend your own patch of ground and allow it to get overgrown with weeds of all kinds by looking over the fence at everyone else’s garden and wishing yours was like theirs?

Image

The choice is yours.  Remain distracted by comparing your life to everyone else’s life, or get busy making the most out of the life God has given you to live.

Choose wisely!

Standard