America is the land of the free and home of the brave. So we say.
But what is freedom when feeling constantly enslaved to sin? What is bravery when there is an overriding fear that sharing the gospel with our closest friends may leave us judged and abandoned?
We will fight for our country, but will we fight for our Lord? Will we preach his name to the point of death so that others around the world may call upon him as their savior?
Our country complains about the injustice in the world, but the real injustice is our sinful heart. We cry out about the election without realizing the president doesn’t rule this kingdom, the Lord does. And Jesus is on his throne reigning above. The Lord has appointed the president; he has ordained the circumstances we have fallen into. Perhaps they reflect the fallen state of our country, but we are not without hope. Our God is the one who sets us free, who took our shackles on himself so that we may not be bound but liberated.
This semester I have felt especially trapped by the world. I have felt the weight of my own selfishness. Instead of putting others before myself, I see myself putting my own preferences first. I desire to have my way in ministry, in friendship and in plans. I want him to renew my mind and strip me of these selfish desires, but I always feel like submission is a huge hurdle that I can never seem to leap.
The anxiety of the future is another strain. I long for security and success, but have found my life on earth may be anything but secure. I often feel I am wandering without any direction. I feel abandoned in loneliness from deceit by my own mind.
But I cry out to my Father and he rescues me from the roaring waves. The enemy may flood me with lies, but I harbor the spirit of the Lord in my soul and I cannot drown. Even when emptiness tries to bury itself inside me the Spirit casts it out. My one defense is to worship the Lord. My circumstances don’t always change, but once again I can recount his promises. He then leads me to the solid truth and foundation of my faith and suddenly my afflictions seem so small because he is so mighty.
My Father will never abandon me. And he indeed abandoned his own son so that he would never have to. The utter agony of abandonment Jesus felt during his last prayers before the cross and the pain of silence from God caused his capillaries to burst. So even when I feel far from him, I can rest knowing that he is as close as ever and I will never have to endure separation.
In fact, he is as much in the silence as he is in the fruit of our labor. In this time of uncertainty, he is preparing me in faithfulness and in obedience. He led the greatest of prophets into the wilderness of darkness to test their strength and reliance on him. The times he feels most distant, he is actually working in me more than ever.
Feelings are liars. They are always fluctuating based on mood, daily conditions and even the weather. Luckily his feelings for us never change. His love for us is more than a temporary emotion, but an eternal commitment. He decided before the foundation of the earth that he wanted an intimate relationship with us. He decided that he loved our souls so much he would do everything possible to secure we would never part. And he decided all of this knowing we would betray him, knowing we would spit in his face, knowing we would never be able to fully grasp the depth of his love for us. He chose us anyway.
How undeserving I am of this Father how much love and grace he pours onto me? He loves me more than I love myself. Through this grace, I can remember that I am set free from sin and death. Thankfully this is a promise that I obtain right now, I don’t have to wait.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” 2 Corinthians 3:17.
The Spirit is already in me. Eternity has already begun. His glory prevails through me and no one can ever capture me from him.
Jesus is not a political liberator. He is not a liberator of suffering or pain. He is not a liberator of our temptation to sin. We still feel all of those things, sometimes greater so. But through those things we learn to dependence on him.
He is our only comforter. He is our liberator from death. He is our freedom from stress. He is our holy, innocent, exalted king. He is our anchor in distress. He is the lens in which we see what everything else is.
So no, I am not free from sin. But I am able to resist sin by the Lord fighting temptation inside of me. I am able to look at him and see that he is a prize worth treasuring, that there is no greater freedom than the redemption that came from the blood of sweet Jesus.
Our freedom reigns not in liberation from oppression, but despite it. In our oppression, we find our freedom. We find the good God who works in the midst every moment. We find the good Father who cherishes his child and has already adopted us into the realms of eternity. We begin to realize the real meaning of God’s justice when we see the fallen Earth is just the opposite.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today,” Genesis 50:20. In our weakest moments, he prevails and his glory is shown. That way God is able to work through us as a vessel that points to him and not us. He strips our power so his power prevails. We could never accept Jesus’ gift of righteousness if we believe ourselves already righteous.
Therefore, we can lift our drooping hands, we can strengthen our weak knees because he has straightened our path and the reward will be here soon. Our flesh may be dying from the moment we are born, but our spirit is growing healthier and thriving each and every day.