It was a beautiful day and, oddly, rather than writing, I felt inspired to do a thorough ‘spring cleaning’ in our bedroom—except It wasn’t’ spring. Life is too short to do spring and fall cleaning. I do it when it needs doing… Granted, it may have needed it for a while. To make the task more pleasurable, I decided to put on some music.
Rooting through my nightstand drawer, where I keep cards, notebooks, a blood pressure kit and some CD’s, I discovered a forgotten gift someone had given me. It was a book entitled, “Freedom”. That’s all it said. Nothing more. As if Freedom itself is as simple as all that.
The cover, a pretty blue with an angelic white dove on it, wings spread out, as if effortlessly floating through the sky, belied my experience and my quest for freedom. Anger welled up inside of me. “Why do they always make it look so easy?”
I took the book, raised it high above my head and threw it to the floor with all the strength I could muster. In one instant that shiny, new, long-forgotten book, looked worn and crumpled.
“There–that’s more like it!” I thought to myself. “And until I believe that freedom is more than an illusion, you can stay there!” Tears poured down my cheeks. I desperately wanted to believe it was real, but for all my searching and fighting, I wasn’t convinced.
Don’t get me wrong, I believed in the, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed”, kind of freedom, with the interpretation that Jesus saves us from our sins if we accept Him as our Saviour. I believed that I was going to heaven. That freedom I had. It was the inner freedom from the bondage of painful memories, from the grip of low self-esteem, from my own behaviours, that I struggled to believe in. I longed for my spirit to feel weightless, not because I somehow attained perfection, or because I had done so much good that it somehow out-weighed the bad. I wanted to be free ‘in spite of’ life’s reality—past and present.
I carefully worked around the book as I cleaned and every time I saw it, I did a little ‘humph’ inside, as if to say, “Prove yourself!”
God lets us throw our fits but, with time, He opens the topic again. The book stayed on the floor for a few days before it happened. I had explained to Tim that the book needed to stay untouched, right in our walking path, until I believed in freedom.
Eventually one of our children vacuumed our master bedroom and, when she finished, she reported back. “Oh, by the way, Mommy, there was a book in the middle of your room. I put it on your bed.”
I almost laughed out loud. God has a way of getting the truth back in your face… gently. For all my stubbornness, I had not been able to keep freedom down. I picked up the book and started to read. Nothing had changed in my world since the moment I had thrown the book to the floor–everything was the same as it had been, but now my mind was open to hearing, and my spirit was ready to receive truth .
When we think of freedom, we think our world should be different somehow–that freedom should remove our sturggles. But freedom is an illusion as long as we have the notion that it will transform our circumstances and make life easy, or pleasant.
In reality freedom doesn’t do that at all. Freedom goes to that place that really counts—our hearts—and begins to transform us inside out, so that the way we see our circumstances changes. We find ourselves suddenly seeing the same dark past, but with the awareness that good can come from it. We see the same pain, but with the hope for inner healing. We feel the same emptiness, but with the awareness that we will be filled with something better than we had before.
And the key to that inner ‘freedom transformation’ is Jesus. I could have looked at the crumpled book on the floor and thought to myself, “Girl, you need to grow up! That will set you free. Don’t throw books on the floor!” But that wouldn’t have brought freedom. Freedom is more than that.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.” If I dare to invite Him into the mess of my life—the crumpled books, the struggle against sin, the hurt I’ve been through—then I will be free. The secret isn’t in making life perfect, but in sharing our imperfect selves and circumstances with God. He not only brings us freedom, He is our freedom!
This incident took place quite a few years ago. I thank God that He has brought experiential freedom into my life so that, when the world seems all wrong, I can face life with joy, knowing that I don’t have to surrender to my circumstances.