Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
i know you’re not supposed to tell people this, but i recently completed a season of fasting. heart and motives check out as ok so we will continue.
i’ve done this fast the past two years to consecrate the year, setting it apart and giving it to Jesus and inviting Him to speak new life and words into it, so my heart has some navigation and orientation on which directions to sail towards and what to expect. i pay attention to what i want and need, what i am hopeful for, what i believe is to come. it also becomes a physical cleanse, and my body is reset. incredible incredible things are revealed during this time of intense discipline, habits, and self-control, which i am going to start calling flesh-control.
one of the things that i became abundantly aware of is this:
hunger drives me.
my hunger for deep abundant overflowing life. my hunger for love and passion. my hunger for sensations and tastes. my hunger for beauty and pleasure.
these are all found in Jesus, but how often do i try to satisfy these apart from Him? when i’m not chasing less-wild lovers – things that i think can fulfill me and things that i am trying to get life from apart from Jesus – i am distracting from my true hunger.
for me, these distractions look like looking up food blogs and recipes. pinterest planning for “one day”. day dreaming about my future. none of these are inherently bad, but my use of them is not from where i want it to be.
as i thought to myself a few days after the fast had ended (aka after a few days of eating everything in sight and shopping and looking up millions of things to pin, and feeling incredibly burnt out on consumption) i felt that discipline and habit and living under strict rules was feeling much easier than full freedom. i felt out of control, i felt that my fallen-hunger was running me again, i felt that i was taking steps backward and in the cockpit controlling my steps instead of dependence, surrender, and awareness. i wanted to go back. i wanted to go back to the rules and the restrictions. the weight of freedom felt too heavy and that i was abusing it.
but i know that i am not meant to live there. it is for freedom that i have been set free.
my sister and i share a brain in a million ways. one of them being that we want to figure out, analyze, and walk in the right way, the way of truth. this is extremely hard to do under faith, mystery, and walking with Jesus. so many paradoxes arise. we are constantly asking each other or ourselves “we see these two things are opposites, yet we are called to both, what the heck and what is the balance?”
walking with Jesus.
walking with Him and leaning into discernment and dependence for the honor and weight of freedom is always the balance.
so i was struggling with: what is the balance between flesh-control/habit/discipline and freedom? what is the balance between things we have to do that are good for us, and freedom to choose and not be penalized and live under grace
i am learning a new definition of freedom that encompasses the paradox:
i am only as free as i am dependent on Jesus.
i am only as free as i choose to take my deep hunger to Him to satisfy, instead of less-wild lovers or distractions.
i am only as free as i choose to live in seasons of flesh-control, habit, and discipline.
i am only as free as i choose to surrender what i think are my rights to come under the will of another.
because now with no guard rails i need dependence, a guide, a relationship, and outside wisdom to let me know what is ok and what leads to death. freedom is no longer doing whatever i want whenever i want for myself without hindrance or restraint, because i am now under grace and no law and a new covenant, freed from the penalty of sin… when i use my freedom on and for myself i feel death because it was never intended to be used in that way.
but if i choose to trust that i have everything i need, i have enough, and if i choose holiness and flesh-control freedom, keeping my hunger alive, i am walking in how i was made to live: awake and alive and full of intimacy and connectedness and dependence on God and others
Galatians 5 has to be one of the most powerful and life-giving scriptures ever to have been written. my favorite part is when Paul says to choose to be led by The Spirit, the Life of The Spirit. i am learning that that looks like abiding. it looks like relationship. it looks like getting to Love-Know and learn His voice and try out and exercise this new life as i trust it to be true. abiding, settled quiet trust and time set apart, just showing up. any relationship requires sacrifice of self-freedom. i think it was beautifully designed to do so: making room for another in your space, choosing someone and giving time, love, resources to them. and this choosing of relationship, that’s what transforms. that is where true freedom comes from.
even though living in habits and disciplines is easier, it’s not how i was meant to live. that’s not the new covenant. going back to old covenant feels easier and better because there is no mystery or trust needed in bondage, only control, self-sufficiency, rules, and structure, familiar.
true freedom is scary because there is always a chance i will wind back up in bondage, fear of doing it wrong, because my hunger is wild and alive because i was made for constantly more, more of Him satisfying and fulfilling me at all times, walking in the garden, not in the fallen partial, the “already and not yet” of the present time. i was created for fullness and constant satisfaction. like the Brooks from the movie Shawshank Redemption, if i don’t know how to live in true freedom i will sabotage in order to return to some form of incarceration. it is harder to trust the wonderful unknown and no longer a life of self-protection and self-reliance.
choosing holiness and flesh control. this is part of exercising my new life and trying it on and out. it’s not rules and bondage. it’s habit that leads to freedom. it’s choosing to live in the awareness that this is not my home, this is not how things were intended. so stay hungry. do what i have to, habits and discipline and flesh control, to keep my hunger alive and not try to satisfy it with distractions and less wild lovers.
so i can choose some of my personal flesh-controls and disciplines, unique to me: waking up early for abundant time with Jesus in the morning, not eating foods that my body rejects, choosing others instead of isolating, reading the word every day, praying the daily prayer every single morning even when i falsely think i don’t need it, fasting every once and a while, trying to sit still and clear out all my thoughts to listen to His Voice and not run the show, keeping my eyes open to opportunities to choose someone else’s needs over my own. these are what lead to the true experiences of freedom and abundant life in my life.
and when i am walking this way, i will always mess up and come up short, there is so much Grace that says “don’t be afraid, Ash, you didn’t take two steps back. you’re not behind. don’t start striving. don’t try to get it together. you have unlimited chances. just keep doing this WITH Me”
this is my motive. this love is what allows me to overflow and come under the One Who Loves. it allows me to want to serve others. it allows me to ask how can i meet needs and limit my rights, tastes, perfection, sensational pleasures for the sake of love and giving my life away. it allows me to keep my hunger alive and keep walking. it allows me to experience true freedom.
to becoming Love and becoming Free,