Today, July 4th, we celebrate the declaration of independence of those who wished to be free of the tyranny of King George III. They wished to no longer be ruled by those who did not have their best interest in mind, but used their subjects to promote their own agenda in Europe at the expense of those who had nothing to gain by it. They were declaring that they wanted to be free, but I can assure you they did not know at what cost it would come. They did not know what freedom truly was even when they longed for it with such desperation. They had no idea of the way, just that it was key to their ability to live forward without fear of what their future held if they did not – more and more tyranny.
So many years ago I, too, wished to be free. I had an idea in my head of what it would feel like to be free:
To wake up and not be driven to protect. To live with an assurance of who I was as a woman. To be free to love my kids and be fearlessly and passionately in my love with my husband. To believe God truly cared about my life.
I knew it was in the Word of God – Jesus alone had the words of life. And yet, the want did not bring the freedom I craved. Freedom from the anger of being wounded by someone and knowing God had the ability to protect – and DID NOT! Fear of being wounded again or having those I loved also hurt. Bitterness from the loss I had of who I was as a woman – at the lust of another. No justice seemed to come for me. No peace. Just destruction. Misunderstanding. Insecurity.
Up was down. Down was up. Left was right. Right was left. Nothing made sense. I wanted freedom, but the way I was currently pursuing it was costing me my identity, my marriage, my talents, my children, my sanity. I prayed and cried out with face on the kitchen floor, sobbing, exhausted from crying. Why this grief? Why this loss? What did I do to deserve such loss? Lord, help me! Please show me the way! I want to be free – show me how!!!
I headed off to Bible study after Bible study. I read so many good Christian authors explain ways to find peace, heal relationships, have a beautiful intimate marriage. I was so worn out from the striving, wearied by the struggle. I loved the Lord. I was faithful to follow Him. I was sure to teach my kids His ways and make sure they learned His Word. But they TOO struggled under the weight of a momma who was wounded and did not know how to be free of her past. I was beating myself up and sacrificing my life for the Lord to set me free, thinking it was in the incessant DOING that the Lord would heal me. It just HAD to work as I had no other answer!
When I finally found the answer, my own declaration of independence , it was not signed with my own blood at the hands of a soldier, but by the blood of my Savior Jesus Christ on my behalf.
I was a sinner.
My abuser was a sinner.
My husband was a sinner. My kids were sinners.
We did not need more religion.
We did not need more “doing”.
We needed surrender.
We needed mercy.
We needed grace -God’s grace.
The work was done by Christ on the cross. HIS work is applied to those who surrender and believe that what HE did for them was all that needed to be done. Freedom was found NOT in the words of the Bible alone, but in the very ONE who is the Word of God Himself. He who knew no sin, became sin itself, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The answer is Jesus.
Freedom is the sacrifice of my way for something higher, better, eternal – Him. It was never about DOING. That is why I was unable to find my way through to peace, knowing He was my avenger, believing He loved me and was good – working ALL things for my good, whether I understood or not. I needed to rest in His work FOR me. And then extend that to all other sinners, letting Him set them free as He did me. I now know my role is not avenger, protector and chief worrier of what could happen. It is to trust Him who made me, knows me, died to save me, and lives to enable me to let HIM heal what is broken in me, believing He is with me in the valley and will create beauty from what the world has made ashes.
Those men centuries ago who signed a paper declaring their independence had to fight for their own freedom from tyranny in the hopes of living free. I need to stop fighting and surrender my heart to the One who is my Lord and Savior, releasing the hurt, the fear, and the justice to He who alone can make me truly free. HE died for me and fights for me. Not just in this world with healed relationships, trust in His care, sharing the Gospel with other hurting and lost people, but with hope in the wholeness of an eternity where we are free forever from sin’s cursed consequences of sin and shame. That is a freedom worth the surrender – worth the momentary pain of this world’s hurt.
Jesus sets us free!
Here is to a truly freeing and eternal Independence Day for you too!