People are constantly looking for freedom. Freedom from money. Freedom from routine. Freedom from boredom. Freedom from a 9-to-5 job, or micro-managing boss. Freedom from shame, guilt, sin, fear, ridicule. Freedom from the limits we put on ourselves.
I live in the United States. By law, I am free. I am free to express myself within a certain set of parameters.
But I don’t.
I fit in so not to stand out. I try to not draw attention to myself a vast majority of the time, because I am generally insecure. I step out some when I am comfortable around family or friends. I mostly stay in a bubble of comfort, though.
I don’t arrive too early to a place or event so not to be first and waiting for others to show up. I wouldn’t want to look out of place. I limit the political articles I share to Facebook in an effort to not annoy my friends too much (even though some of you may argue otherwise). I even have a secret social media profile that I sometimes use to post either “too extreme” ideas, or jokes some of my Christian friends might be offended by.
The place I should have the most freedom, though, but feel the most restricted by: church.
It isn’t the church’s fault, though, or it isn’t all church’s fault. It is me. It’s in my head. I cannot, or I have trouble, raising my hands to God in praise during worship. I am too worried about what people behind me might be thinking about having my hands up. MIGHT think. Chances are they are not thinking anything about what I am doing and just wondering what to have for lunch after service. Or that the music is too loud.
I also worry about sounding terrible since I am tone deaf, but that is less of a concern because the church I attend is relatively large and worship is like a rock concert so no one can hear me anyway. But my arms and hands raised! People can see that, so keep those things down!
I wouldn’t want someone to think I am one of those Jesus Freaks. In church. Full of other Jesus Freaks.
I am not free, even though I could be or should be. I have never been the guy randomly at work say to his coworkers “Hey, let me tell you about Jesus!” type. I have stayed in my comfort zone. I still do. Even writing posts like this sometimes scare me that I might offend non-Christian friends of mine. It’s what the devil wants. But I still want and ask for God’s blessing. He died for me-I can’t lift my hands in praise in His house.
I will get stronger, better, and more confident.
Do you know what true freedom is? True freedom is throwing every ounce of everything you have at God’s feet and shouting all your love and praise and pain at knowing He hears a joyous noise, a sweet sound. Freedom is also knowing that when you do that, when you throw all your crap, and all your good, which is crap to God, He takes you in. All of it. He accepts you and loves you as a perfectly imperfect being.
True freedom can be seen and heard in the faces and voices of members of a church’s Disabilities Choir leading in worship. I witnessed this, and I cried.
I cried as these men and women with various disabilities sang the song “Good, good Father.” I cried as I remembered the verse that Jesus died for all. I cried as I thought about that verse, because I have been trying to think of it in the frame of labels culture or society put on people, but Jesus meant it in a human-for-human frame. A mindset of “we are ALL created in the image of God” way. I cried as the chorus was sung, “You are perfect in all of your ways,” filled the auditorium.
God is perfect? Even to people with disabilities?
Yes. Yes He is.
God can bring perfect freedom. He can bring freedom to me. He can bring freedom to you. Surrender of control is an ongoing activity. I pray to do it every day. I have to make a conscious effort to remind God I want to surrender and let Him have control of my life. Freedom is an active act that can also be yours.
Here is a version of the song the choir was singing:
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