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Galatians 5: 1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free.

I recently read How to Stop the Pain by Dr. Jim Richards. Though my copy of this book is highlighted throughout and hand-written notes garnish every chapter, there was one page, one paragraph that was so loud to my Pastor’s heart that I determined I must share it with you.

It is from this premise that Jesus came to set us free that Dr. Richards writes, “Following Him (Jesus) wholeheartedly is the safest life in the world. It has the greatest peace; it has the emotional freedom we all desire. To follow Him wholeheartedly, though, requires that we trust Him enough to apply His truth to our lives” (P. 94). Therein lies the rub. The freedom Jesus bought for us on Calvary is wrapped in the cloak of trust. If we put on this cloak and enfold ourselves in it we will absolutely be protected from the storms but how do we trust Jesus to the extent that we are willing to take those first tentative steps? For some people it comes from desperation. When we get ourselves in a deep enough mess, sometimes that is enough to allow us to make that leap of faith. Dr. Richards continues, “We must walk in love. We must discard our former way of finding safety and happiness and follow His teachings.” This requires us to do things differently and that can be a challenge.

Truthfully, most of us are not making cognitive choices about our interaction with the world. We just do what we have always done or what we were taught to do. This freedom in Jesus requires us to abandon our ways and live according to his ways. Even if we know the difference rarely do we make contemplative choices. We live according to reactionary patterns. It is possible, though, for his ways to become so ingrained in us that they surface without cognitive thought. In order for that to become our reality, though, we must spend quiet, meditative time with Jesus and with his word. It is not enough for us to merely read a chapter a day. That is good and fine but what we are talking about here is that word getting down in your heart. Whatever is in your heart will come out when faced with a situation. Many times we do not even have the luxury of thinking about our choices. Sometimes we just react and those reactions come from whatever we have sown in our hearts.

Truly the freedom that Dr. Richards encourages is from following Jesus wholeheartedly. As we spend time with Jesus, talking with him and listening to him, and as we observe him through the scriptures we gain a new reality in him. His ways become our ways and the chains that he came to set us free from fall away. There is freedom in Jesus. It is in trusting him and following him. It is in putting our feet in his footsteps instead of following the ways we have learned in the world. Knowing Jesus, not just knowing about him but knowing him is to know freedom. Trust him and be free.

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