Happy fourth of July.
Today, I figured I could write a short and easy paragraph about our freedom in Christ with some inspiring quotes. The demand for a new blog post comes with alarming regularity, so I get pretty excited when I can figure out a mindless formula for a post.
But God interrupted my day with pressure to be transparent and real. Ever since I woke up this morning, I’ve felt Him stalking me in that sweet tender way he does and nagging and tugging on my soul until I sit down here and stop and think and write about what is true.
I can’t type some cute little blog about how great it feels that we are free in Christ when the truth is – most of the minutes of most of my day I feel like a slave to a million different hungers that I don’t know how to satisfy.
I can’t post a blog that says ‘YAY I’m FREE IN CHRIST!’ when each word I type is sandwiched between irritation and anxiety and hardness of heart.
So, on this fourth of July, I’m going to share a little monkey story with you:
One time I made the mistake of going to the Austin Rescue Zoo with a friend of mine. It is probably the most depressing way you could spend a day; each of the animals has been rescued from a terrible environment.
I was excited to see the monkeys because (a) I like monkeys and (b) because these monkeys had been trapped in tiny containers (barely the size of their bodies) their entire lives and now they had this huge enclosure with room to swing in the trees and finally act like monkeys.
I scanned every branch, but there were no monkeys to be seen. Then I saw a little girl pointing to the corner of the enclosure, and sure enough, there they were. The monkeys sat with hunched bodies in the corners of the cage with their faces pressed up against the bars.
It was as if they didn’t know that they had been set free and behind them lay this huge open space. I guess they felt more comfortable in the position they had known their entire lives. They didn’t know how to move their bodies the way they were made; it hurt to stretch and move their muscles.
So they just sat – looking at the exact same view they’d had before they were ever rescued.
And I can’t stop thinking about those monkeys today.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that the world suddenly looks different. Being a Christian means that we believe that everything is different even when it looks exactly the same to us. That’s what sanctification is: learning to live in what is already true. My body is trained to submit to sin. It is painful to do things differently. It’s going to be a process to learn to move the way I was made to move.
If the Son has set us free, we are free indeed. That’s the reality. But it’s going to take a whole lot of faith for us to live in what’s real.
Despite what this day stands for, independence has little to do with freedom. In Christ, we have been set free from all the entanglements that have blinded us to how much we need God. We’re free to be dependent – to lean on God to teach us what’s true, to teach us how to move the way we were made to move.
Gang. Today I feel…weird; wearied by the way that every day feels the same as the one before and scared that tomorrow might feel the same as today and desperate for a vacation that lasts longer than a lifetime.
I feel like this life is a cage and I feel trapped, but I’m not. 2000 years ago, Jesus paid a great price to buy me out of slavery. And He didn’t leave it there. He purchased for me His Spirit to dwell inside of me and teach me how to walk in freedom.
My God is parted the Red Sea to lead the Israelites into freedom that felt like death to them. My God is the God of Abraham; He talked with Noah and walked with Enoch. And He is here today in this contemporary world in this crazy coffee shop and He is mine.
Thank God for God. Happy dependence day.