To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
I have been spending a good bit of time the past week or so thinking about freedom, and what it really means, and how it really happens. Jesus was very clear in telling us that if we want to be truly free, it will only come through him. In fact, a little later in John's gospel, Jesus tells us that he is the truth; as well as the way and the life. So he is not only the truth, but he is the way to truth as well. Therefore, the only way to truth, and thus the only way to freedom, is through relationship with him. And, conversely, if we are not free, it must be because we are believing something that is not true.
My guess is that we even need to consider our definition of the word freedom to begin with. Maybe our very definition of freedom is not true. How would you define it? If you look up the word free in dictionary it is defined as personal liberty. But I'm not at all sure that this is a true definition. At least it wouldn't seem to be true given Jesus' definition. One of the biggest lies that we tend to believe is that freedom means getting to do whatever we want to. And if we are not able to do whatever we want, then we must not be free. But in reality, freedom does not have to do with being able to do whatever we want, it has to do with being who we were intended/created to be. When we are being the person that God made us to be, then, and only then, is there any possibility that we can actually be free.
For example, I was on a day of solitude the other day at one of my favorite places in the world with two dear friends. We spent most of the day by ourselves being with God in silence, coming together for lunch to talk a little about what God was up to and how he was meeting us. Early on in our time alone with God I noticed a couple of hawks enjoying the beautiful day by riding the winds and soaring through the blue summer sky. They are regular companions on my days of solitude at this particular retreat center. And for some reason, this day they really caught my attention. I began to watch them float and glide and soar. And as I watched them, I realized that God was giving me a perfect picture of the beautiful freedom I had been reflecting on all week long. Here's what came next:
you ride the currents of the wind
so smoothly, so effortlessly, so naturally
no work or toil or strain
yours is just to be
content with wherever the breezes
may lead or guide or direct
not fighting against
but joining with
the created order
you glide and ride and float
you circle and spiral and soar
offering no resistance, only cooperation
with the forces much larger than yourself
you are but a small piece
of a much larger beauty
which you so gracefully surrender to
going only where the winds take you
being only who you are
now that's freedom!
That's when it hit me: going wherever you want is not freedom; going where you were intended is. It is the truth that sets us free.
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