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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Freedom from Self

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). This verse has been rolling around in my mind ever since I signed up for doing the blog chain. If my brain remembers correctly (this can be doubtful) I think one of the Freedom bloggers mentioned this, but I’m going to add my two pennies of sense or cents, whichever way you want to look at it. Here’s my take on freedom.

Ever since I came to really know the Son of God, he’s been setting me free—mainly from myself. As the adage goes, I am my own worst enemy, and maybe you are too, but I am in the process of being set free. So, what bound me? First, my own insecurities and selfishness. With an artist personality, I was riddled with insecurity, and so I withdrew into myself and my artwork. My own little world revolved around me, myself and I. I love that new song that mentions that own little world. That use to be me, even though by twenty I had traveled the world, and lived in Europe for a year. I wasn’t a spoiled rich brat, just a product of the sixties. In that world I found all the “freedoms” I wanted, but it wound me up so tightly I became so depressed, nearly suicidal.

I was living for myself, my experiences and “freedom” from everything I knew before—my family, God, religion, friends, school and society. It was a living hell. I remember sitting in a campground by self in Ibiza (Spain) thinking, well I’ve done it all; I might as well die now. I shudder to think what I would have missed—my husband, my children, my friends and career, if I ever carried though with that thought. That’s where Jesus came on the scene, albeit a number of years later. I still had to taste more of the world’s version of freedom, which finally became such a bitter taste I wanted to spit it out, but didn’t know how—until an ex-boyfriend convinced me to go to a prayer meeting.

Don’t worry, I’m not doing my testimony here, suffice is to say I came to know this Son of God, my first step into true freedom. Many of my outwardly sinful habits (all those “freedom child” lies like drugs and sex) fell off all at once. These first steps in learning to be set free were easy compared to what “freedom robbers” lay hidden inside me: bitterness, anger, self-hatred, jealousy, depression, and selfishness. Jesus worked overtime to release me from these, to set me free from self absorbed and self-defeating habits. He taught me how to rely on Him when I had nothing materially. He taught me how to pray and understand His promises when depression threw its blanket over me. He taught me how to speak freely, though I was considerably opinionated in my early days. He taught me to be content when others had more than me. These are freedoms I consider even more precious than the freedoms we enjoy here in America as a “free” country.

As I grew in this freedom that Christ offered, He opened my small little world into a vision for all humanity. I went on a number of mission trips around the world, joined Christian organizations and helped sponsor three children and missionaries from various organizations. This is a testimony not to myself, but to what God can do even with a self-centered artist turned writer. However because of these good works, I began to strive in this Christian walk and needed to be taught a deeper lesson about freedom.

In the last few years, this Son of God showed me that it’s not my works that sets me free. He taught me about releasing all of that—what better way than through my own child. I had to hand over my prodigal son to Jesus, and He brought me into a whole new arena of freedom: trusting Him with my very own flesh and blood, abandoning preconceived notions of God, and praying with more passion and praise. He set me free from judgmental attitudes and broadened my vision. He showed me that He doesn’t conform to our image of Him, but is way beyond what we can think or imagine. Then he turned around and answered prayers to a greater measure than I hoped and freed me from fear.

So what is this Jesus doing now to set me free? He’s teaching me how to regard others more highly than myself. This is not an easy task for Him because He needs to constantly revamp my way of thinking about myself and others. It is also not something I can achieve myself; only the Son of God can form this new freedom in me. He is the Master Potter—shaping me into the vessel He wants me to be. He will freely mold me as I allow Him to free me from myself. I no longer need to strive or resist, just allow God to work in me, now that is true freedom!