Freedom to walk, run, or crawl

When my oldest was little she was a big fan of the army crawl.

First she rolled everywhere she needed to go, then she got determined enough to put elbows to carpet and chug along. Being a very new mom I had no idea this phenomenon existed. My husband and I would stand there cradling our mugs of some warm beverage and watch just for entertainment. She didn’t crawl in the traditional way for months. Who needs knees, when you can use your core and have abs of steel, right?

What struck me most in all this was her determination. She was undaunted.

She didn’t want help. She wanted freedom.

Freedom to roam.

Freedom to try and fail.

Freedom to use some grit.

Freedom to journey in her own way.

People have all kinds of opinions about how we should get to where we are going, don’t they? Our journey on Earth rarely looks like someone else’s but we all sure try to get there by someone else’s methods all the time.

Paul reminds the Galatians that they are Free with a capital F. Their freedom comes from God, not from man, not from manuals that tell them the “right way to do it,” not from generations of tradition, but from a God who loves, who forgives, who holds.

Paul proclaims to the Galatians in Galatians 5:7-8 –

 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Who cut in on you?

Whether it’s others or our own expectations, the “shoulds” of life, or persuasion from others, ideas of rightness – the freedom to fall flat on our faces and get up again comes from God and God alone.

He calls us to this life.

He calls us to walk, to run, or to crawl in this journey, and he calls all three of them Good in Christ.

Paul brings a little more insight and a little more wisdom in Galatians 5:16-18:

 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

“You were running, walking is good too,” Paul says, “but remember that all of it is done in the Spirit.” (Heidi’s paraphrase)

Why are we so convinced that we need to run, when God is telling us, “Go ahead and walk, sweet child”?

Why are we so convinced that we need to do it the right way, the non-existent and evasive only way, someone else’s way?

Whether these ideas are put on us by others or well up in our own hearts and minds to yoke us up, they aren’t from the One who called us, but Paul also tells us that the Spirit is alive and well.

Acts 17:27-28 is so reassuring I think we should post it on our foreheads for one another:

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

He is not far. He put Himself inside of us in His Holy Spirit. He lives there. He moves there. His desires begin to mesh with ours in a way that we can’t quite fathom. And when we mess up, when we yoke ourselves to those earthly desires, when we walk contrary, He doesn’t desert us. He doesn’t leave us on a whim. He watches us army crawl, and gently guides us away from the giant electrical sockets of life, sometimes letting us get that little jolt first, for useful teaching later.

I honestly think crawling is better. It gets us to that place of humility where Christ does His best work. The sting of pain, the consequences of failure, bring us before His feet, resting our burdens before Him, where they were intended to be anyway.

The freedom to crawl, to do life the imperfect way, sets our hearts on fire with grace and forgiveness in a way that propels us into a run, a sprint, a marathon, a good race in His love and His mercy in this abundant life.

So run, walk, crawl, or do it any other way knowing that the Spirit is alive, well, and active in your soul this day and every day.

Free in Christ!

Discussion questions:

What strange methods of crawling have you seen?

What places do crawling, walking, and running have in our faith walk?

When have you found God lifting you up in your journey to propel forward when you thought you were too tired, or you wanted to give up?

Refusing slavery, acting like sons

Slavery is a real thing.

It’s disgusting and it needs to end.

We fancy it up with complex names like human trafficking, but it is the same horrible system which existed before the American Civil War, before William Wilberforce boldly spoke out in England, and during the Roman Empire at the time of Paul.

Galatians Chapter Four opens with Paul’s well-known argument against slavery, not on the massive oppressive scale, but individually, the kind we submit ourselves to. Slavery is devastating and we should fight with all our might against it. The devil’s brand of slavery is eternally devastating, and it requires a fight too. We need a Savior in this, more than ever.

Paul uses the language of slavery because, I think, one of his main points throughout Galatians is a very simple:

“Why would you want that?!”

Given the option, real options, no one chooses slavery. Would you ever want to be a slave? No.

Read Galatians 4:1-7 and ask yourself this question:

Where in my life am I submitting to slavery that God did not intend for me?

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principleof the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

You are not a slave, but a son.

Through the Word, through Sunday School, through the Body of Christ, and through the Holy Spirit we know this. God lifts the scales from our eyes, and we know about Jesus. We know what He gives us. Praise the Lord! Now…

it’s time to grow up.

I mean this in love.

Paul means this in love.

This is sweet Gospel, friend. This is not the weight of law the Judaizers were handing out.

We need Christ and we need one another. We can know something so well that we become a slave to the knowledge of it. We let knowledge rule and forget that we were meant to grow. We let knowledge take the place of real and true intimate relationship with God. We stop at elementary principles (v.3), content to be a slave, rather than sitting in our true role as heir, son, letting God mold and shape us in back-and-forth relationship, conversing with Him in His Love and Truth each day.

This may seem far removed from human trafficking, but it unfortunately isn’t. Satan uses our desire to remain children in the faith, in so many ways in life.

When my faith remains only as knowledge, it is difficult for my soul to be touched by the struggle around me. My eyes remain closed to people, including modern slavery, broken marriages, and all hurting faces of different griefs.

The beauty is, God loves children too. He doesn’t love us less when we’re immature or more when we’re grown.

God through Paul assures us that we do have relationship with God, no matter what Satan would say. We can cry out –

“Abba! Father!”

It doesn’t completely make sense, this growing up, this moving past elementary principles and into deep and meaningful relationship with God, but it’s not necessarily supposed to. There’s the freedom in that too.

“Abba! Father!”

You take the reins, dear Savior. I am no longer a slave, but Your child, I give You control to maneuver this ship that is my life. Free me a little more each day, to continue living in this growing relationship with You. 

And in relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior, we rest in our salvation, our relationship with Him, just enough to care about everyone else’s.

Freedom from slavery, freedom as children, freedom to grow.

I want all the freedom in Christ.

#lifetogether – Connect and send someone this week’s free downloadable Dear 52 card or order the whole set here

Discussion questions:

What do growth and knowledge have in common? What differences exist between growth and knowledge?

In what ways do you think knowledge of Christ gets in the way of relationship with Christ?

What “Abba, Father” concerns would you bring before God today in freedom?

Dear Girls, He is Not Your Savior: Addressing our desire, our value and our worth

I’ll be honest, middle school was not my finest.

It was so difficult for me that when I started coaching a very fine group of 5-8th grade cheerleaders on a whim, I felt like I was stepping back into my 8th grade year and my internal anxiety was through the roof.

Who really wants to walk back into middle school?

No one, ever.

I have a theory that middle school is hard because we desperately want one of two things:

To be noticed or to be not noticed. Or the third option…a little bit of both.

In middle school we don’t know our desires, as girls, as budding women, or as people, but as we grow we begin to identify them more clearly.

We want to be loved.

We want to know we’re valued, worthwhile.

We want to feel safe, physically, emotionally, and relationally.

There’s probably more, but I think those are the big three, particularly for girls.

Some thing weird happens too, sometimes we have no idea where to find them. We start searching, searching, and searching some more…we look every where, but we mostly look at men to tell us, what only God can –

We are loved.

We are valued.

We are safely held by Him for eternity.

A few months ago, I wrote this article for Concordia Publishing House –

Dear Girls, He is Not Your Savior

It’s about our deepest desires, the problem of sin, the struggle of Satan trying to hide what is good from us, and the weight of expectations in relationships.

As the months passed, I wanted to hash all this out a bit more; to understand why my wild, young, and rebellious heart looked everywhere but to God for fulfillment in this life, and why it’s a struggle still today.

Why do I so often want a man to fill me, when I know good and well that only God can?

You’ll find a few of the answers I found here, in this new podcast episode: Dear Girls, He is Not Your Savior.

It present 5 things I think we’re searching for, a few good questions for evaluating our expectations in our relationships, and also offers encouragement, whether you’re single, married, young, old, wild, or tame – to run to God, run. He’s already got you anyway.

You are loved by Him.

You are valued by Him.

You are safe in His arms.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me your experiences, your thoughts, or send your questions. We’re all figuring our this life together, led, and fully filled up by our Savior.