In our 21 days with Jesus series (find out all about it and sign up for next month’s here!), we’re talking about freedom. So today, I’m sharing a conversation I had with my dad about what freedom looks like as a Christian. His insights into freedom were ones that I wouldn’t have thought of, and at the end of the conversation I looked at freedom in a whole new light, and I think you’ll leave doing the same.
Okay ready? Let’s chat about freedom.
C.S. Lewis once wrote,
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world”.
Made for another world.
We’ll spend our whole lives longing for something. As Christians, we know that longing is only fulfilled by Jesus, and the place we are longing for is Heaven; but every human has the hole that they try to fill with things that merely temporarily satisfy.
Made for another world.
I knew when I was outlining this month’s topic that I had to look at freedom as someone who lives in this world but isn’t of it. To share it through a Biblical lens– because that’s exactly how we should view everything.
But I was struggling. I won’t lie and say that I sat down and wrote nonstop without a second thought– because it’s so far from the truth. The truth is I tweaked the timeline of release because I was drawing a blank.
As a United States citizen, who has the freedom to believe how I choose without fear, what freedom looks like as a Christian was something that I didn’t really consider. And still it’s the topic that Jesus led me to.
So I did what I do when I need to hear from Him, I headed to the beach to catch the sunset– this time, I took my dad.
Meet My Dad
I need to introduce you to my dad before I dive into our conversation about freedom, because well, I want to introduce you to him.
My dad was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. The fifth of seven kids to his parents– both who were pastors of a small church. He left home at 15 working as a taxi driver in the city, and other odds and ends jobs. He left New York at 21 to cross the country to California where he spent the last 40 years of his life. Falling in love, raising a family, doing what he loves in aerospace. My dad built a great life. It’s not without its ups and downs of course, but he won’t hesitate to tell you that it’s all because of God.
His aerospace background gives him a unique outlook on this world, especially when you pair it with his relationship with the Lord. And his wisdom? I decided to hide him somewhere the government will never find him because the number of times he’s predicted something– it’s just as much as the Simpsons I promise.
But here’s the thing I really need you to know about my dad – he’s always joyful. I could probably count the number of times I’ve seen him upset on one hand. His initial reaction is almost always, “Okay Papa (that’s how he addresses God), what are we going to do?”
That’s my dad in a nutshell. Most kids have a love-hate relationship with their parents– I hit the jackpot with both and I don’t bother even trying to deny it.
So it may come as no surprise that when I struggled with what to write– I went straight to him.
“What does freedom as a Christian who lives in this world look like?”
His response came quickly and without thought. Meanwhile, I had to sit on it for a minute because it wasn’t what I was expecting. So when I looked at him, a question on my face, he followed up with,
“Freedom as a Christian looks like having joy in the heart, no matter the circumstance. We can have joy– we should have joy in our hearts.”
He goes on to tell me that joy is a sense of calmness in the spirit and an assurance of God’s love and protection– no matter what’s going on around us.
True freedom is having joy.
And then he reminded me about Paul in prison.
While Paul sat chained in prison, after being brutally beaten in public without trial– he sang hymns and talked about the goodness of God to the other prisoners. (Acts 16:16-40)
He remained joyful.
Choosing joy, no matter the circumstance, is a sign of true freedom. When your spirit isn’t being manipulated or enslaved or constrained by the things of this world– whether they are material items or events that take you away from the calm and peace that the Lord gives – that’s when you experience freedom.
He said more– a few other things that I’ll have him expand on to share at a later date. But for now I want to settle in here with the idea of freedom being tied to joy. Because after listening to him, and pondering on it for a few days, it actually makes sense to me.
With Jesus’ sacrifice we have so much freedom; but how we show the world what freedom in Christ looks like is choosing to look for God in everything and be joyful no matter what life brings.
Will it be easy? Goodness no.
Should we strive for it? Absolutely.
Freedom in Christ in Action
If you follow along on Instagram, you’ll know that I released the 21 days with Jesus series a day early because I was sitting stranded in a Missouri airport. While I tried to maintain a calm, “God’s Got This” attitude– when my flight was canceled at 2:30 in the morning after being at the airport for nearly 10 hours, and an automatically rebooked flight going out two days later with no available hotel room– I lost it.
The anger, frustration, and exhaustion took over and joy was nowhere to be found. And I could see how freedom ties into joy. Because instead of resting in the peace that He gives, my heart was wrapped in anger and anxiety. My mind completely off of God and solely on this world.
In those moments, at the airport, I wasn’t free. I was enslaved to worry, and I realize now, that’s where the enemy wants us. Doubting the goodness of God. Anger, frustration, anxiety, worry – it’s all a foothold that the enemy uses to steal our freedom from us.
See, joy is the outward appearance of what freedom looks like as a Christian. Inwardly, it’s the power of being able to rest and see the good, even in the midst of adversity, struggle, and calamity. When we’re able to do that, when we’re able to keep our gaze on Him and not on ourselves or the frustrations of this world– it’s easy to be joyful. Because He is so, so good to us.
As I dropped my dad off back at home and went to leave, he told me,
“The song that goes, ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim…’ listen to that song on your way home. It speaks of freedom– because when the things of this world are not our focus- it’s easy to be joyful”.
So friend, look it up and hit play. Let the lyrics hit you with a fresh sense of freedom the same way they did to me.
I’ll see ya soon.