Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Free to Die, Serve and Love


photo courtesy of sakhorn38 www.freedigitalphotos.net

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14


Sometimes I experience seasons of discouragement. Everything seems to come down upon my head and I feel more than overwhelmed – I feel defeated. During these seasons, I can become enamored with the idea of being “free” from my burdens. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I felt “free.”

There is always a need to be working toward a goal with my son. Oh, I know that everyone with children feels pressure to work on certain skills, but when your child is affected by disability the pressures seem heightened. Every therapist tells you that the work they are doing with your child must be reinforced at home (by you, by the way) if it is truly going to stick. You are untrained in this specialty profession, but you accept the pressure and do the best you can. You feel anything but free. Indeed, it can cause you to feel trapped and powerless to help your child or yourself.

Then there are the times when you are “taking a break” from the therapies and just doing it yourself because of financial constraints. Again, the pressures are tremendous and anything but freeing. More days than I feel liberty, freedom or victory, I feel defeat. My flesh cries out for respite and reprieve. More than anything, I would love to feel free.

All the freedom talk this time of year exacerbates my feelings of being imprisoned by my responsibilities. Oh, I know I’m not alone in these feelings. They are often familiar new to parents with very young typically developing children. I understand their fatigue and exhaustion all too well. But my son is 15 years out of infancy and I’m still running on the adrenaline I used when he was a newborn. And I’m tired.

Paul’s admonitions to the church at Galatia are great comfort to me during these seasons. When instructing against the teaching of the Judaizing teachers’ insistence on mandatory circumcision for full acceptance into the body of Christ, Paul counters this teaching with a freedom found only in Christ. While sharing that Christ following is open to all and releasing them from false burden, he also warns them of the dangers involved in embracing their newfound “freedom.”

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” [1]

I’ll admit that my ideas of being free from my troubles and worries are pretty “fleshly.” I don’t have any inclination that I would go nuts and abandon my family. I don’t wish away my child or even the limitations his disability brings. I just hear myself wishing that things weren't so intense all the time. I think of all the things I’d do if I had typical parental responsibilities. And they are all pretty flesh driven. One commentary writer describes my ideas about personal freedom this way, “Put differently, it is independence, autonomy, and personal sovereignty. Theologically, such a definition of one’s personal ambition smells of profound sinfulness. This view of life defines freedom as the absence of limitations and the presence of self-sufficiency and power.” [2]

Instead, Paul offers me the chance to embrace my liberty as a believer in Jesus Christ as a chance be free of myself, not for myself. He has offered me everything I need to release myself from the entitled longings and embrace a Spirit-filled existence, bearing my burdens with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [3] because alongside these things we can be crucified to ourselves and fully open to others.

And suddenly, freedom is looks a whole lot more like my every day than wishing for something I don’t have.

Father God, forgive me when I confuse personal freedom with what you offer me in Christ. Help me to embrace the freedom from my fleshly nature more with each passing day. Give me the strength to die to self, and live in your Spirit. In the name of Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.






[1] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Ga 5:13–14.
[2] Scot McKnight, Galatians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 254.
[3] The Revised Standard Version (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1971), Ga 5:22–23.

1 comment:

  1. I am so with you. I feel like you looked into the window of my heart and listened to my prayer. My caregiver responsibilities are heavy right now and are causing me to have my own health issues. Great encouragement and wisdom in this post. God bless you.

    ReplyDelete