There are so many ways to understand the word freedom. According to the good ole Webster Dictionary, freedom is:
liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.
Liberation. Not constrained. The state of being free. Spiritually speaking, Christians understand this as being free from the bondage of sin. We experience liberation from the “passions of our flesh” and are invited to take part in the “beautiful inheritance” that David sings about in the Psalms.
But, how? How do we experience this kind of freedom? How do we rid ourselves of these worldly passions and enter into the beautiful inheritance that God has intended for us to enjoy?
Not having the answer to that question has left me dissatisfied. My life lately has become a quest to find this “freedom,” if it even exists. I long to find myself standing in a spiritual field of spiritual flowers, spinning around in my spiritual flowing skirt, just enjoying my spiritual freedom. It seems a little far-fetched to me. The idea of complete freedom simply sounds too good to be true.
I thought, “I must rid myself of all other possible distractions in my life.” I began stripping away things that were taking away from my freedom. That must be the answer. If I have nothing to get in the way of my freedom, then I obviously am free. Unfortunately, removing the few things that I considered a hinderance only left room for more distraction. Maybe my heart is not meant for this freedom. Maybe I am meant to chase after momentary satisfactions and distractions for the rest of my life…yikes.
When you are left alone with your thoughts, and without distraction, you get a glimpse of who you truly are. And most of the time (in my case), it is ugly. Instead of turning to the Lord with my loneliness, insecurity, anxiety, etc., I turn once again to momentary satisfaction.
Does God really offer freedom from these things? Can he really liberate my loneliness, heal my clinical anxiety, and provide relief for my relational insecurities? I don’t know that I believe he can. Or maybe, that’s not actual freedom.
I want tangible answers to my problems. I want God to fix it now. I know that He has the ability to move a freaking mountain, so he must have the ability to make my life perfect, right?
I confuse spiritual freedom with physical freedom. Unfortunately, there are no recorded promises (that I know of) in the Bible that offer healing for my anxiety. God never spoke through the authors of the Word to declare that I will find myself in a happy, committed relationship. There are no verses that promise an end to my insecurities. But if there were, I’d be on top of that. Believe me.
I want to believe that God is here for me. He will fix my problems and let me do my thing. That does sound like some kind of freedom, I guess. But I will always need this “fixing” to occur. I don’t know of anything that lasts forever. I will be “OK” until the relationship hits a hard spot, my anxiety starts getting bad again, or something happens to make me feel insecure. The cycle of anger and bitterness toward God for not repairing my brokenness will never end. That doesn’t really sound like freedom anymore. It sounds like I have become a slave to momentary satisfaction.
Spiritual freedom offers something much different. It looks to something much greater than today; it looks to eternity. It operates under this idea that our physical, and even emotional, ailments and circumstances are not the biggest thing in our lives. That’s a foreign thought. There’s an idea that a God exists who created the entire universe, and that he wants a relationship with me. There is a God that you can turn to and never experience rejection. Spiritual freedom also presents the idea that I can’t do any of this on my own. I cannot rid myself of desires and feelings and emotions. I cannot look to myself or any other human to find some kind of comfort. It has to come from the Creator of comfort. That makes sense, I guess.
What spiritual freedom does is remove burdens. There’s an idea that you don’t have to worry about finding the right relationship. You don’t have to stress about trying to control the outcome of situations; the reality is that you can’t do those things anyway. But once that realization is made, the pressure can come off. The result is freedom. The belief is that this God, who created everything, can take care of your life. This means that things won’t necessarily happen the way you expect them to; it does mean that things will happen the way that this God sees fit, and we can rest assured that He has the best intentions for our lives.
Of course, just because I don’t have to stress doesn’t mean I won’t. The idea of spiritual freedom also suggests that while we are not promised “healing” of our earthly burdens, we can turn them over to this God, who promises to comfort us in our circumstances. He promises to comfort us with the reminder that we have a beautiful inheritance with Him; He comforts us with the promise that one day, suffering will meet its end and we will reach a perfect beginning. The suffering and anxiety and insecurity that we experience on this earth becomes less burdensome and more trivial as our perspective slowly shifts to eternity.
That sounds like a freedom worth seeking. This liberation that I have been seeking after so diligently should not be liberation from my worldly problems like I originally thought, but liberation from myself. I need freedom from myself. I have become trapped in this heart of pride, control, anxiety, insecurity, and loneliness. There can be no physical freedom from myself. Spiritual freedom is the solution. Only One can free my soul. O Lord, free my soul.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [Romans 8:14-17]