Most of us know the feeling of being all tied up inside. We get stuck in sin or just stuck in turmoil. And when we've tried to conquer something for a long time, it feels impossible to conquer it by ourselves.
God grants us moments when we get to taste freedom. Those of us who have tasted what it feels like not to be free know this is supernatural. It's affirmation that there is a God, because how could we set ourselves free from bondage?
Jesus Sets Us Free
When Jesus was on earth, he just touched people and they would change. They would receive freedom from sickness or fear or even death. It was mind-blowing. People would come from all over to be around Jesus because he had this power to change people's lives. It's a constant theme in Scripture: It's Christ who sets us free. It's his blood. It's what he did at the Cross, and what he continues to do for us in giving us hope for the future and setting us apart for good works here.
Romans 8 explains that we are influenced by two spirits. There's a spirit of sin and death and a spirit of life and peace. I feel both of them on any given day. I feel dark, selfish, angry, and disillusioned, and I run from God and toward sin and the things I love on this earth, the things I'm trying to make work for me. At the same time, God calls me to this other way that feels costly and in some ways requires death.
I think that's why we miss so much freedom from God: we're not willing to lay down our lives. Because we're afraid, we're not willing to say, God, you have me completely, whatever that means. We think there's life in making everybody okay with us, in becoming financially secure, in having obedient children and a happy marriage. So we fight for those things, and we think if we can get all of them taken care of, we're going to taste freedom. We're going to get that feeling we've been looking for. Anyone who has had all that knows freedom is not in these things. We can get the things we're striving after, but then we start striving for something else.
What God offers is life and peace. Everything about him is life and peace. So he tells us to run to him. It goes against everything worldly and human, against pragmatic thinking and the wisdom of this world. But he, in essence, says, "Run to me, from everything you think is going to make you happy here, and I will fill your soul. I will give you peace and patience when you need it. I will give you everything you need."
Lay It Down
We're so afraid to give up building this life. We all work hard to arrive, yet it just seems completely unattainable. Sometimes we don't even know it, but we are exhausted from trying to find happiness. It's ironic. We're fighting for happiness and it's stealing all our joy. God basically says, "I offer you something you don't have to work for. It will fill every crevice in your soul that hurts. It's real. But to get it, you have to quit fighting for everything you're fighting for." Giving it up is a prerequisite to experiencing God, but we don't want to do it.
I want to lay down my fight for this life, but I don't always know how. It feels like a war. And that's the way Scripture lays it out. It is a war—a fight for our emotions, affections, thoughts, time, actions, money. All of this has the potential to display God on earth, to further his kingdom and glory. But we sell out to the lie that we are going to find happiness in this world.