Saturday, 2 July 2011

Free indeed

I've just had a thought that has stopped me in my tracks. Not literally, as I was on the way to the bin with a large bag of smelly rubbish and was motivated in an olfactory kind of way to keep going, but in terms of my thought processes, I stopped in my tracks.

Sometimes I have a thought that I've had lots before and yet this time it seems special. This thought was one of those. This time it seemed to mean something more; have a new dimension. A glimpse.

I'm free.

I'm free in so many ways. I'm free in terms of not being in captivity. Nobody turns a key and prevents me from leaving. I can go to the supermarket, and I have a wealth of different food to eat. I can stay at home; I have a home to stay in. I can travel; I have a car and can buy a plane ticket to the other side of the world if I choose. I can sit in the garden and I can see the beauty of nature whenever I look out of the window. I can go for a walk; my legs and my heart and lungs work and on my doorstep is the magnificent Peak District. I can use the telephone and choose who to talk to.  I can sing and I can shout without anyone telling me to be quiet. I can choose what to do with my time, what to read without someone censoring me. I am free to say what I like without fear of someone coming to arrest me for my opinions. I can vote, I can abstain from voting. I can worship my God in public, in a comfortable church with a crowd of fellow believers. I can wear a symbol of the Christ who died for me round my neck without being persecuted or killed for it.

But tonight's revelation was more than those things, infinitely precious though they are.

I am free because nothing can confine me again. I could lose all the above and still be free. I am free. 

Nothing can separate me from your love. Nope, nothing.

'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

Romans 8:38-39

So all those years ago when I saw you for the first time and really saw you in your glory, when you tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Helen, there's something you need to know...' from then on I was free. For so long in my life I've ignored you and just done my own thing, and I've had happy times and duff times, but underneath it all I have known where I'm going when I die. Nothing can take that away from me.

It doesn't matter what's going on in my life. St Paul called the nightmares he lived through '...light and momentary troubles' and he was beaten and stoned, shipwrecked, kept prisoner, starved, homeless, robbed and persecuted. In the context of eternity, of what was to come, he saw that the rubbish all around him was nothing.

'We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.' 

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

I am not going through what Paul went through, and yet I am going through it with so much less grace, less faith. I do not think that the things on my plate are 'light and momentary troubles' because they weigh me down and worry me. They seem pretty big to me. I can't grasp the 'eternal glory' thing; maybe it takes a holier sort of person than me, like Paul. But the wonderful, amazing, breathtaking, stopping-in-my-tracks thing is that this doesn't matter because I know where I'm going when I die.

Bill Hybels said:

'If you knew that in fifteen minutes you would have to stand in judgment before the Holy God and learn your eternal destiny, what would your reaction be? Would you pace nervously? Would you say to yourself, I don't know what God's going to say - will it be "Welcome home, child," or will it be "Depart from me; I never knew you"?
Or would you drop to your knees and worship Jesus Christ?'

Behold, He comes, riding on a cloud...

I know what I would do. I would fall to my knees and I would worship you. There are days when I look up at the clouds and imagine you arriving back in glory and triumph; the whole earth would stand still and stare and then fall to it's collective knees and I would fall on my face in awe - but I would be smiling because I know that you would call my name because you know me. Everything I have done and not done has been forgiven and that will never change. I am your child and you will not forget me. 

So I am free. All the things that limit me here and confine me and stop me from feeling free; they are all a mirage. They don't matter in the eternal scheme of things. I have moments where I understand this; like today where I got a glimpse of what's important. Mostly I am so caught up in the world and my troubles and worries that I forget. I am holding my anxieties so close to my face that I can't see past them. I can't pretend that I am St Paul who rejoices in his hardships because of the payoff in the life to come. I'm far from being that saintly. 

But deep down I know that I am free. A friend said to me recently that even though life is hard and there are many things going wrong, she could not imagine going through these things without you. I can never hit the bottom because you will catch me. Your arms are waiting to stop my fall. I have no understanding of why life is difficult or why a specific prayer appears unanswered but I know that you have it under control. I suppose in that small way I'm with St Paul. I can't imagine going through all this without you. I'm glad you are there. 

John 8: 36

'So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'

Amen and Hallelujah! I am free indeed.

On the days when I feel free and the days when I don't, I am free indeed. Just because my mood or circumstances change, that fact doesn't.  There are times I feel free - like when I can escape from the children for a couple of hours and go to Curbar and stand on top of the world, or when I  play music very loud in the car and sing along, or when I am so wrapped up in you in worship that I feel as if the angels could appear around me and all I would do is sing - but there are many many more times when I feel weighted down by my worry. Far, far from free. 

But I am. Whether I recognise it or not, I am free. 

Help me to grasp that freedom and take my eyes off my troubles now and again so that I can see your gift more often. Help me to feel that freedom so that I can lose the fear and anxiety. The Son has set me free, and I am free indeed.

Thankyou for setting me free. 

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