I just turned 48, and I just got my first tattoo. It reads “called to freedom,” and it’s awesome.
Galatians 5:13 (NLT) says, “For you have been called to live in freedom — not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.”
This speaks so many things to my heart. We are to live our lives free in Christ. Paul began Galatians 5 with, “So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free.”
There is nothing like freedom in Christ! “For the Lord is Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NLT). We are free in Christ simply because we belong to Him. That all seems pretty straightforward, right? But I don’t want to be free only in my spirit; I want to be free in my soul.
Enter the real struggle.
How do we attain, and then retain, freedom in our soul? How do we stay free? What does that even look like? Have you ever gained freedom in an area of your life, only to seemingly lose it? And what does that really even mean?
If we’re not careful, we can fall into a frustrating cycle of soul vs. spirit, past vs. present, lies vs. truth. It’s a battle that often leaves us wondering, “What’s wrong with me?!” And while no one can snatch us from God’s hand, we can belong to Him and yet choose to live in bondage. We can lose the freedom in our soul – our healing, our peace, our joy – when we give it up to the enemy.
You see, the one whose sole purpose is to kill, steal and destroy us never rests. He never gives up the fight, and so we mustn’t either. And, yes, the only way he can steal from us is if we let him. So let’s not.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. –Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
I believe that Paul’s “pressing on” had more to do with his soul than his spirit. Heaven is the ultimate goal for later. But what about now? What will your life be now?
I worked very hard for the freedom I have today. I spent many years in the prison of an abusive marriage, and when God rescued me, I knew that letting Him heal me of the wounds of my past was crucial to my future. I knew that if I didn’t run after freedom and let God bring healing to my soul, my past would continue to control and manipulate every aspect of my life.
I didn’t really have a concept at the time of what I was getting myself into; I just knew I wanted to be free. Make no mistake, the healing process can be brutal. We’ve all heard the saying, “You have to feel to heal.” It’s so true! But the pain of healing — which facilitates freedom — is so, so worth it!
I dove into murky waters, and God met me there.
I read books on healing and freedom. I listened to teachings and sought good counsel. I let God speak, and I listened. I let Him dredge up things from deep within my heart that needed some attention. I let Him heal and restore.
Little by little, the waters became clear, and soon I wasn’t drowning in pain and regret. I learned of my identity in Christ more every day. I am who and what God says I am. I am not what the enemy has accused me of. I am not my past. I am the here and now and the future that God, in all of His goodness, has planned for me.
And that was only the beginning. We must “make sure that we stay free.”
This was the inspiration for my tattoo. It’s my reminder that I’m free in Christ.
I am free from the hurts of my past.
I’m free from regret.
I’m free from religion.
My relationship with God is not about rules and regulations. He didn’t come and die so that we would follow a list of do’s and don’ts. He came to restore our relationship with the Father.
He came to set us free.
This freedom, this love, is not only for me. It’s also for those around me. I am free to love and let God love through me. I am free to be vulnerable. I’m free to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly before God” (Micah 6:8 NKJV).
And I’m free to stay free.
I choose freedom in this life. I choose peace and joy. I choose to trust God who knows me and loves me more than I can imagine.
This journey of freedom is ever ongoing. When we fully trust in God, there is always a higher place, a deeper love and a deeper level of freedom. There is always new mercy and grace. God is a good Daddy, and we are safe in His arms.
My challenge to you today is this: Let God speak to you. What do you need to be free from? Are there any areas in which you have received freedom only to release it back to the enemy?
God, I surrender my heart to You today. I surrender the hurts of the past. I surrender my then, my now and my what is to come. Release freedom in me today. Amen.
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