Real freedom doesn’t come until we no longer have to prove our freedom.
I came across this statement in a commentary on the book of Acts this week and it just really hit home.
As I have probably mentioned before, I have not always been a Christian. For most of my life I would best be described as an agnostic although, to be honest, there were times when was an atheist and did not believe in God at all. These beliefs were based, to a degree on rebelliousness. I “rebelled” against what I saw as “the Leave It To Beaver” world my grandparents lived in. The focus on family, responsibility and the same sort of middle class American values that television shows like Leave It To Beaver seemed to portray (unrealistically).
Instead, I wanted to be a poet. I wanted to live without boundaries; flaming out in a handful of years with all my creativity spent and having lived a lifetime by the time I was thirty. A death past my thirtieth birthday seemed like a waste of oxygen, food and space. The humdrum daily existence of a “real job” and family life was as much a curse, as far as I saw it, as being a zombie; an animated corpse. It was the opposite of freedom and I wanted no part of it.
One day, three little faces came into my life. Each one was filled with promise and hope and love. Each one was also filled with pain and uncertainty and doubt from lives that had been, and were, much harder than anything I had ever faced. My goals of living the ultimate, hedonistic life of creativity suddenly seemed a little shallow and empty compared to helping these three little one fulfill their own potential, for nurturing and building on that hope and for sharing even the tiniest little bit of their love. Nothing in my sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle had made me feel as complete as that. My friends made fun of me and laughed at me for selling out. It hurt a little but it didn’t last and it never made me second guess my choices.
Over thirty years from that fateful meeting with the first three of my children I read the quote above and it struck me; I am free. My rebelliousness and lifestyle choices in my teens and early twenties were my efforts to “prove” my freedom. I have even seen each of my children try and prove their freedom in their own ways. My youngest even followed the exact same “rebellious” road I did.
Blind to all of this, I still fought to “prove” my freedom from God for several decades more; rejecting Him and His sacrifice for me and His grace. I fought to prove that I could do it on my own and that I didn’t really need Him. Somewhere along the way I quite trying to prove my independence and accepted a little help, then a little more and so it went for a really long time. Little by little I have broken the shackles that bind. Little by little I have given myself over to Him and I can honestly say that I have never felt more peace or more freedom.
As a man who one wanted to be a poet, I readily recognize how short these words fall in expressing this change, this miracle. I do pray that they touch someone’s heart and maybe help them a little along the way down the path to peace and salvation, along the path to the love and redemption found in Jesus Christ. Not because of any visions of fame and glory as I once would have hoped but in an earnest, honest and humble desire to help others; to love my neighbors…
God bless you all.