God’s sense of process and timing creates a toothy grin across my face! It’s been seven years since I began studying with ladies in the city jail and those in a nearby drug rehab facility. Before I could effectively begin teaching others I had to sort through a lifetime of beliefs, break them into bite-size pieces, and select only the ones that offered the clearest picture of Jesus. I give God all the praise for His mercy and grace in allowing me the opportunity to begin looking at Scripture through the eyes of those who knew nothing of the Bible, God’s grace, Jesus’ love, or the Holy Spirit’s power. This process resuscitated my self-centered heart and blew fresh air through my spirit. If you’ve never taken the time to read through the Bible as though you have no predetermined theology, you should try it sometime – and brace yourself for freedom.
These have been seven of the most intensely grueling, but magnificently freeing years I’ve ever experienced. The number seven in Scripture is the number of completeness and divine perfection. Though I’ve been a Christian since I was thirteen, it’s taken every minute of these last seven years to bring me to complete freedom.
Realizing just how much God loves me changed my have-to to want-to. It helped me see that even when I mess up He still loves me with a love that is greater than the love I have for my grandchildren. I have blessed assurance that just as I would never let anything keep me from loving them, absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of God.
Jesus taught in Matthew 22 that He had only two important commandments: love God and love others. All other commandments hang on those two. Loving God and others means we eagerly look for ways to bless because that’s what God does for us.
In John 14, Jesus tenderly says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” He didn’t say, “If you love me you’ll prove it by obeying.” He said, “If you love me, you will.” You’ll obey out of a thankful heart that’s fallen in love with Jesus. That’s changing your have-to to want-to. When love is our motivation, obedience is just what we do. We have nothing to prove.
Knowing that we are incapable of doing enough good to outweigh our bad convinces us that we need help to live abundantly. Receiving God’s lavish grace creates a jumping-out-of-our-shoes thankfulness that can’t be contained. But what’s even better is that grace tandems with the Holy Spirit to become our teacher. Titus 2 says “grace teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.” Grace humbly received teaches us to give it to others, while the Holy Spirit leads us to those who need it most.
It’s taken seven years for me to experience true freedom in Christ so I could begin laying down my pride and the need I felt to be always be right. However, had I not experienced it for myself, the difference I’ve witnessed in my husband would have ignited that quest inside me. The changes I’ve seen in him inspire me to stay on freedom’s path. He gets up before me to read in his One Year Bible. He writes out his prayers in his prayer journal and plays praise music while he gets ready for work. He can’t wait to get to church and eagerly volunteers to serve. He loves our Freedom small group and is considering leading one. We attended the marriage conference, and he’s looking forward to the men’s conference. But before anything visible could be noticed, his heart experienced a makeover. Perhaps only the one who lives with him can see all the many intricacies of his newfound freedom. His thinking, speaking, and priorities have undergone a subtle, but profound renovation. He looks for ways to help others. His contagious generosity and joy has magnetized his life. I’m definitely in love! (Note to all husbands: finding freedom not only benefits your walk with God, but helps you look very good in the eyes of your woman! Just sayin’.)
The best part about freedom is that it helps maintain your sense of security when mistakes are made. When the Holy Spirit points out something you need to change, you welcome the advice wholeheartedly because you enjoy being on the road to becoming more and more like Jesus. I’m praying we all relish our time on Perfection Road until we meet Jesus face to face. I can’t wait for that day!
If you’ve not experienced freedom yet, it doesn’t have to take you seven years to find it – but it might. It could only take you seven weeks or seven days. But I do know, it will only take you about seven seconds to make up your mind to get started. 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7!!
I’m already praying about next week’s blog. Please say a prayer for me to speak only what glorifies God and encourages you. Please don’t be shy about letting me know if this series is benefitting you. (I have my armor on, so I can take the good, the bad, and the ugly.) Have a great week, and let freedom sing!!