Friday, March 21, 2014

Freedom: Our Best and Worst Enemy

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.      ~ Abraham Lincoln

I couldn't help but throw in a historical quote. Sometimes it's better to let the historian in me get its way from time to time.

Lately I've been reading through the Old Testament and haven't been able to dismiss the numerous present day applications this ancient text contains. Stories of great faith, incredible courage, epic failures and triumphant comebacks spring from the pages and shout "Listen and Learn."

Over and over I read about God's people, who were given Freedom but chose bondage. Why? Because God's Freedom comes with guidelines. If God's people would obey His commands, and live their lives in ways meant for their own benefit, then they would remain free, but if they turned from God and lived in disobedience then they would find themselves in bondage. Oh, they would choose God's way, but then soon choose their own watered down, sad replacement version of Freedom. Their way always ended up in their emotional, physical and spiritual captivity.

How are we, the people of this nation and this world, any different from the Israelites of the Bible (God's people)? We want freedom on our own terms. We shake our fists at God's Word like temperamental toddlers telling him we're going to live the way we want because it makes us happy, or we can't help the way we are. The truth is, we just want our way. We want like-minded people to rally around us with affirmation for our life choices. The truth is, God loves us (John 3:16). He has a plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11), and what better person to give us direction than the one who made us, and knows everything--past, present and future? It's a no brainer, but we still persist on living life on our own terms.

Some may say, "It's not true freedom if there are stipulations." You're right, but this world isn't equipped to handle true freedom and neither are we, hence the heinous nightly news reports. That's why God provides the way we should go, and even when He takes us through the mire of life, He shows us how to handle it.

Some may say, "It's not fair for God to discipline His people. That's cruelty, not love." I have to be honest and say that the Old Testament is FREAKY at times, but I've developed a healthy respect for God and I'm learning just how serious sin is. At the same time, this God who disciplines and allows bad things to happen is the same God who would rather pull in the reigns, and set guidelines in hopes that not one of His people would self-destruct. God wants to save us from ourselves as we live out our version of freedom.

Here's the thing: we all may think we're right; that our truth is true, that it's the choice we should make, and we're not hurting anyone else etc. But Proverbs 14:12 says "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

My husband fights for our country's freedom, as do many of my friend's spouses. It's worth fighting for, but it can be our best or worst enemy, so let's choose God's path and His stipulations for liberty.