Freedom in Christ
"Freedom is just another word, for nothing left to lose..." -Janis Joplin
What is freedom? Nothing left to lose? Strange concept. So if there is nothing left to lose, then you are just going for broke? Nothing matters but the choice? As the song continues, the only thing that matters is feeling good when Bobby plays the blues? How existential!
1. a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.
As humans, we have a free will and have choices. But the key to true satisfaction is making the right choices.
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." -Romans 6:22
Singing the blues with Bobby McGee may be fun and somewhat therapeutic - the blues are cathartic - but there's more to life than that.
A train runs best when it stays on the track. If Engine number nine runs off the track, people ask if they can get their money back.
Likewise, when we follow the right path in life, we run best. Abusing drugs and alcohol, constantly being angry at people where you blow up, seek revenge, harbor resentment, are anxious and depressed are ways we get off the track and become dysfunctional.
Take the world of drug abusers, dopers. Please! Lives are ruined. People overdose. People steal. A reformed druggie said that there is no honor among drug abusers – people lie, are cutthroat. There is alienation, no love between people.
I read in Narcotics Anonymous a testimony from a former drug abuser that a druggie cares for nobody but him or herself. Getting high is the only goal. Druggies will steal from their own family for drug money.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
A few years back, I did not engage in drug or alcohol abuse, but I got off the tracks and headed down a siding towards a dead end where the tracks went to the edge of a steep cliff. Years before I walked away from God, and decided I would be the engineer. I was headed for disaster, engaging in destructive, ungodly behavior. I kept going, full speed ahead, in reckless abandonment. Just before I was about to plunge over the cliff, I came to a screeching stop, as though God had put on the brakes by remote control.
Being sovereign, God created situations and brought people into my life that brought me closer to him. I gradually released control of the train to God. The Prodigal Son returned home.
After I returned to God, I ended up keeping company with the homeless in Bucks County, PA. I became part of this community, after a time becoming homeless myself for a season, living in my car with Sandi, who had cancer. About three years ago, I took her to the ER, where she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to the liver and the brain. It was a rough three years having to deal with her illness, and her attitude, and my attitude. Early on, I had a puppy love for her. But as Sandi used to say, "the fizzle" fades away.
Over the years, after going through trials, we became committed to one another. Sandi was brought back to church and the fellowship of the saints until she got chronically too tired to go out. I took the Word home to her, where we spent most of our time together. I was tempted to bail out a few times, but I couldn't do it. God put in my heart the compassion to stand by Sandi, sacrifice and take care of her. We both got closer to God and to each other.
Sandi went home to the Lord on December 4, 2017. I miss her, grieve my loss, but she belongs to God. The Lord gave her to me for a time. She's told me "Jesus is in my heart." As one of the hosts at a shared meal told me, God has things for me to do. I need to move forward.
On Saturday, February 3 Abie, my pastor, and I honored Sandi and glorified God at a memorial service for Sandi and her friends in the homeless community, at the normally scheduled shared meal. People there reached out with their moral support. Abie shared the Word, using Sandi's faith as an example. She had her flaws, but knew she was a sinner saved by grace and she never lost her faith. Sandi had wanted to give up on life, and wanted the Lord to take her, even trying to do it on her own. But as I decided to spend more time to minister to and encourage her, Sandi came around. "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
This is why God put us together - to edify one another. As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
With God at the control, I've been blessed by submitting to Him.
As a friend recently said, there is always some trial that comes up. But God gets us through the storms in life, and is with His children in the midst of them. My friend asked me how do we know Jesus is in us. I've gone through situations where God has given me the grace to do the right thing. I don't get everything I want when I want it, but I'm learning to wait on God and trust Him that He has my back and has my best interests in mind. Although my train sometimes wobbles from side to side, I wobble but I don't fall down, I don't come off the track. God won't let me!
I still associate with the homeless in Bucks County. I strive to get closer to God so I can better serve people in this situation. One thing on my heart is the book on homelessness, that focuses on Bucks County, that I've been working on. I have written a draft that I've been editing which I plan to send to a publisher I have lined up. In the book, I strive to, as the 60s saying goes, "tell it like it is."
As Christian author and pastor Max Lucado wrote, as Christians, we need to do what pleases God. We should reflect God. This is where we find true freedom.
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20
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