Right before the Canada Day long weekend, along with a sizeable crowd of hardcore people, I completed an exercise challenge called Rebellion. At the party to celebrate our achievement, I bought this t-shirt. The saying on the front resonates with me. The two obvious reasons are that it includes words from Canada’s national anthem (the country of which I officially became a citizen 33 years ago), and secondly, by working out and completing the challenge, I grew stronger and free from indulgences that might otherwise keep me off track. But a less obvious and deeper meaning for me began 29 years ago at age eighteen.
I had recently returned from several months of living in my birthplace, England. I had been wondering about God and why I couldn’t see any evidence of Him in the day-to-day. One day, not long after my return to Canada, I prayed a silent prayer on my way to church: If you exist God, you’re going to have to show me because I don’t feel anything. That day in church, the pastor was speaking about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and I was overcome by emotion and began to weep. Afterwards, I felt huge amounts of peace, joy, love, and yes…freedom.
Many come to Canada in seek of a new start, fresh hope, and freedom. This is just what I found in Christ: a new start, fresh hope, and ridiculous freedom. And just as many fought and died to protect the freedom we enjoy in Canada, our spiritual freedom also required sacrifice. We are only free because Jesus died to ensure it. Through Him we are offered forgiveness in place of sin, renewed hope, and a true north. No more uncertainty about our future destination, and freedom in the here and now.
Those who know what it is to live without freedom can appreciate it most fully. It isn’t until you are free that you realize how captive you were. Jesus breaks us free from the bondage of sin. You don’t even realize how beautiful soul freedom is until you experience it. It’s like taking off dark glasses and suddenly everything becomes brighter, more colourful. Or as though you were treading water wearing a weighted jacket, and now you are gliding along with a buoyant flotation device.
Some people are afraid of freedom. The unknown of it creates fears of a different kind of bondage. Because of that, many prefer to stay just where they are. At least it’s familiar. That’s where faith comes in. Faith to step forward even though you don’t have all the answers. Faith to love a God you can’t control and who won’t control you. Faith in a God who loved you first – who loves you now – no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Faith to believe that you matter so much that Jesus died to save you for eternity. Faith to believe in an invisible God who can be known and experienced spirit to spirit. Faith to accept that you are accepted. Faith to reach out and grasp hold of true freedom.
For many, freedom isn’t a choice, but the freedom found in Christ is. It requires recognition and a decision. I couldn’t save myself from my sin, neither could I be “good” enough for heaven. Jesus, through His death, purchased my freedom. I needed to recognize I needed a Saviour. Then, I made a simple yet significant decision to give my life to Him. I didn’t know where it would take me, but I recognized God’s love offer, and understood I’d be a fool not to accept it.
Knowing God hasn’t made life perfect, nor has it made me perfect, but it has allowed me to walk through this breathtaking, beautiful, and sometimes heart wrenching life beside the One who, despite the mountains and valleys, never lets us go. He strengthens us for the uphill climbs, and the freedom we find in Him allows us to enjoy the valleys more completely. He often gets blamed for many of the woes the humans He created exact on one another, but I’ve found Him to be, among other things, faithful, merciful, patient, gentle, kind, loving, just, and forgiving. I would rather go through life knowing and loving Him, than deny the day He reached out to answer my prayer, awaken my heart, and encircle me with His love.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
~ John 8:36
- Do you remember a time God nudged your heart? Did you accept His love offer? If so, how has it changed your life? I would love to hear your story!
- Maybe you have never accepted God’s gentle offer to walk with Him. It’s never too late this side of heaven.
- Here is a simple prayer: Lord God, I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die for my sins. I’m sorry for the wrongs I’ve done. Please forgive me and take away my sin. From this day forward, I choose to follow you.
- If you believe that in your heart, it’s that simple. Your sins are forgiven and your home in heaven is secure. Move forward getting to know Jesus better by finding a church, meeting with fellow Christ followers, and reading God’s word, the Bible.