Firm in Freedom

This is a piece that I wrote last week for the Otter Creek Stir blog (http://ocstir.wordpress.com):

If you’re like me, you’re nostalgic. When I’m with my friends, I could go on and on about the times we’ve had. I know everyone thinks this, but I have the best memory when it comes to details of a funny moment. I love to tell stories.

Occasionally, I find myself with those who I went to high school with. We can tell all kinds of stories about playing jokes on each other, messing with our teachers, and ridiculous memories from the football locker room. And in those moments (which are becoming fewer), there is a slight wish to go back. To get to experience pep rallies, football games, and the many fun times once again. See, because when I’m with my friends laughing and catching up, I’m not thinking about the arguments with my parents over my grades or the difficult teachers. I’m not thinking about those times when I wanted to pull my hair out over the dumbest things, but rather I’m thinking about when I had hair to pull. The way we remember things is often seen through a rose-tinted lens. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” has a lot of merit to it. Anyone and anything can seem appealing from afar, and we as people are so often tricked into believing that the grass is greener on the other side. I believe this is a trap we often fall into in our faith.

In Exodus 14, we find the story of Israel immediately after being freed from the Egyptians. They are encamped next to the sea, and Pharaoh, realizing what he had done, takes his army to go get them back. Of course as this huge number of angry Egyptians is rapidly approaching, the Israelites look up and are terrified. They say to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” At the first sign of trouble, these people who had just been delivered by the HAND OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY doubted Moses. After seeing the Lord’s faithfulness play out firsthand in a way that no one else in the world had seen, they still doubted, believing that at this point, Egypt doesn’t sound that bad. Moses answered, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” and the Lord did just that by parting the waters for Israel and crushing Egypt under the crashing waves.

Maybe we’re not backed up against a sea with an army racing towards us, but maybe we feel like that sometimes. In those moments of fear when maybe following God isn’t as easy as we anticipated, the road is exhausting, and temptation looms, don’t our old selves look enticing? The Lord’s deliverance isn’t always swift, and it certainly isn’t without some worrisome times along the way. In those moments of fear, temptation, or sorrow, STAND FIRM. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance of the Lord.

As Christ-followers, we are always being drawn back to what the Lord has called us out of. Rejoice because the Lord has given us new life! The Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, saw us as we were and said, “You are not that person anymore, YOU ARE MINE.” While we were still slaves, sinners with no hope, Christ died for us! Our chains have been crushed by grace, and we have been set free! We cannot choose to return to slavery.

We are constantly tempted to return to what God has called us out of.

So today and everyday, choose freedom. He has led us to greener pastures and beside far quieter waters.

Even when everything is going wrong and I feel discouraged…

Even when a life of surrender is tough and I want to quit…

I will trust in Your unfailing love;

My heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,

For He has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6

-MC

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