Poster by Gretchen Roberts
As I ponder a new year, I want there to be more freedom--more grace--more life, for me and for my sweet friends.
I ask you, humbly today, to bear with a ramble of thoughts and words, for so it is.
Being immersed in beauty, pink sunsets, crisp breezes blowing in the trees, walking in the quiet of my mountains is almost a craving, a necessity of my soul. Free-spirited from birth, I love the wild, the vast color of God in creation. It matches my personality and suits my soul. I have to get away from the grasp that culture sometimes has on me, to be able to breathe in God's presence.
Now in my 60's, I am reflecting more on what really matters in life and reflect on what is really true.
Today in church, I spent half of my time making faces at the baby in front of me in the arms of a parent to see if I could keep her happy--her little smiles gave me such pleasure.
A few days ago, I came upon an unsuspecting child of mine who was singing at lung-tops and dancing around the living room--I joined in enthusiastically.
As I survey the landscape of people I have known, very few really seem to have stilled their soul enough before Him to be amazed, and to live in the freedom and generous love He provides every day--to have that excitement bubbling up because of the fun, life, beauty that comes from knowing Him and living fully alive in His creation.
To dance, sing, laugh uncontrollably, to love deeply, to drink from the pleasure of life He has allowed, even in the midst of the fallen places-this is to know Him and His presence every day.
Yet, surrounded by people who know how to be good but who seem uptight and judgmental, kills my soul; who know many rules they live by and talk about them; who pressure their children to behave by forcing themselves upon them because they are bigger--but these parents seem to lose their children's hearts or neglect to enjoy the antics of their childish personalities. The priority, instead, is to have their children fit into the box of their preconceived expectations--and that just does not work.
Some define themselves by the name of their church, but Jesus will define them by how much they loved.
These, who energetically espouse what their brand of Christianity is; or the boxes they live by; or stand in judgment the people that don't live by their rules,
condemning the lost for being lost, when only God can do so--
I have been there, done that--but legalism kills the heart and spirit of life. Rules are broken because we can never be perfect--and neither can anyone that we love, be perfect.
So living by works, and then the circle of disappointment that ensues, only creates more of a sense of failure and hopelessness.
But I long to be with those who live in mystery and have learned a little about it over the years. The mystery of His infinite wisdom, glory, power, and willingness to do miracles through those who are looking and listening for Him. This is what I love, long for and wanted to pass to my own children-
not laws about Him, but the Love, wisdom and beauty that moves Him.
I do not look at limited me--but I live, as His toddler, growing little by little, and knowing He will hold me, protect me, love me, because it is His nature and he is a good Father who will see to the well-being of his immature toddler.
Religion does not satisfy
But, really, no wonder Christianity has not had an impact in our generation--we are offering a religion but not a person; things to do, but not one who transforms and heals hearts.
What a waste of time. God is not impressed by how well we know the rules or by how hard we try to keep the law. He came so that we did not have to strive so hard, because He knew we would never succeed in life without His power and redemption.
But, when I am in the presence of one who has been with Him, whose life has been changed by His unconditional, gentle, generous love, then my soul is fueled to be in that company.
When one has walked in the presence of the Servant King and been loved and served by Him, one is different.
When I am in the presence of one who is filled with His life, it causes a burning and excitement in my own soul.
What troubles my heart greatly.......
However, I am deeply troubled by the people I am surrounded by who seem to live in bondage--unnecessary bondage of inadequacy, and always feeling the weight of their own shortcomings and sin upon their own back.
Bondage of fear of what might happen in life, or to children, or to finances.
Bondage to flesh--trying to put more effort into doing it right, striving to achieve a holy life, trying to be a perfect mom or wife or friend and failing again and again.
Bondage of the expectations of others--performing by other's standards and boxes and opinions or the bitterness of others who have wounded them.
Such a waste of energy and life for precious people who do not have to live that way.
And living in the bondage of performance and works makes living through marriage, friendship, mothering children--from young, teens to adulthood, impossibly difficult, because there is no formula that covers all the possibilities, temptations and experiences, so formulas and rules will always disappoint and confuse.
It is only faith in the One who knows, that gives freedom to live apart from bondage.
Jesus just does not want us to live in defeat.
At 60, I I know more than ever before, I still can't be perfect--but I am more grateful for His provision and love and seek to live in His grace and deep gratitude for what He gives.
All of these things flurry around and create voices in our heads and weigh down souls and leave darkness, unless we choose to live in the light.
But where He is, there is unimaginable splendor and light. He came because the people living in darkness needed a great light.
He is the light and sparkle of the world.
I call the Christians who live by so many rules and isms and pressure, the ones in the Christian Bubble.
My children have laughed at me this week because they noticed so often I say, "I just hate the bubble." and they know what I mean.
So, though I could write volumes and thousands of words some day and be more organized with these thoughts, but I am off to celebrate life with my sweet ones present in my home.
But this year, this new year, I wish you, and pray for you peace--rest--grace--freedom.
I am going to spend some time today putting my finger on those things that steal my joy, that take from my love, faith and freedom and then make a new plan to be in the mystery and glory of His presence and joy more often every day, so that when people are in my presence, they may draw from Him who is there, alive and fresh and powerful and mysterious.
"It was for freedom that Christ has set us free, therefore keep standing firm that you may not be subject to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
May this new year, mark a beginning of a new time, when you and I invest in Him, and in the reality of His kingdom. And daily may we celebrate His magnificent love, that others may be blessed in the shadow of our lives that crosses their paths
And stand firm in the freedom that we were meant to experience.