Freedom is a choice. While our current life circumstance may limit some of our liberties, we are still left with options. The question that comes to mind “Do we exercise the freedoms we have?”
Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” God’s Word encourages us and promises freedom through Christ “It is for freedom Christ has set us free.” It continues not with a suggestion, but with a command to “stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Still many times we refuse the freedom we’ve been given.
As I began my personal faith walk it was clear there were areas in my life that called for some changes. Some were simple and required little effort. Others spawned internal battles between the old and the new, and often took me to that “stuck” place. A place where I would recycle through the same issues—incarcerated by my own rebellion. In An Enemy Called Average John Mason wrote, “When you refuse to change, you end up in chains.” Even those of us who embrace and look forward to change have those areas in our lives where we struggle to change. I often say “to get to where you’re going, you must leave where you’ve been.” Are you wondering, what area of your life is calling you to break free and accept the freedom you’ve been given?
Often times we allow what others think or say to affect our choices. Perhaps it’s our environment, culture, traditions or social status that we blame? Trapped in our excuses, we lose sight of God’s purpose for our lives. We forget, while others simply don’t know that Christ’s gift of freedom is for everyone. He didn’t exclude you or me. If we could just run away for a season, take some time to find out who we really are and what we believe, the external pressuring voices would be silenced and we could then focus on listening to our own heart.
Sometimes life makes the decision to change for us. Wrong choices have caused many to lose their civil liberties taking them to a different kind of prison. Behind the razor wire many struggle with the consequences of their actions—isolated from the world, they are forced to face their own identity and life choices. I’ve been blessed to serve in prison ministry for over 12 years and during this time I’ve witnessed many flavors of freedom.
Freedom to forgive. Freedom to overcome addictions. Freedom to separate from the negative influences. Freedom to choose your friends and your visitors. Freedom to explore spiritual beliefs and participate in faith-based services. Freedom to learn something practical—a trade: public speaking, leadership. Freedom to complete their education. Freedom to walk in their faith seeking God’s purpose for this place and time. Freedom to help someone else overcome their struggles, and so much more…
Today I asked one of the residents that I mentor at a women’s state prison what freedom meant to her. Her response, “Freedom to experience joy and peace!” Another resident said, “I may be in prison but they haven’t incarcerated my soul.” Both ladies enjoying the same freedom for which Christ set us free.
For more of Freedom is a Choice, order your copy of the Spring 2016 issue here.