Saturday, March 11, 2017

Unlimited

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

The Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place. - 2 Samuel 22:19-20 (NKJV)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. - 2 Corinthians 3:17

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 35:1-10; Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; Romans 2:17-3:2

Reading today's scriptures makes me wonder whether we often have more freedom than we think. We can spend time cooped up and waiting for someone (God?) to swoop in and make things better. We may pine away for the change we're waiting for, thinking, "Then, I'll be able to ..."

I do believe that in general, waiting for God is a good thing. Our human souls can be impatient and impulsive, always wanting something, and chasing after it rashly. It's good to take the time to pray and consider what God would have us do.

But there are other times when we truly are free, rescued from a bad situation by the grace of God, and "brought out into a broad place" where we have many options. What holds us back? What stands in the way of us claiming this freedom and doing something new and life-giving?

As the book of Nehemiah opens, Nehemiah isn't free at all by the standards of the world. He's in exile, a servant under the Persian king Artaxerxes. But when he hears of the need to rebuild Jerusalem, and after he takes time to pray about it, he decides that it's up to him to rebuild the city. The king asks him what's troubling him, and then, "What do you request?" Nehemiah takes a deep breath, prays again, then asks for permission to go and rebuild, as well as for the king's provision and protection. His requests are granted, and the rebuilding begins. Nehemiah the exiled servant becomes a leader of free people.

In the Romans passage, as Paul starts to explain how faith and obedience are all that's needed to claim God's free gift of grace, he gives us some examples showing that our status, and our external markers of standing, make no difference at all. God is not limited by the things we think are denying us our freedom!

Both examples, from Nehemiah and from Romans, make it clear that this freedom doesn't come by our own efforts. We can't claim it, earn it, seize it, or manufacture it. Instead, freedom is a gift from God. As such, we don't take it for granted, or abuse it. It would be self-defeating to use God's gift of freedom to start doing things that cut us off from the source of our freedom and strength! But within our faith and obedience, God opens up a "broad place" where there are many possible choices of directions to go and moves to make that still keep us connected to God and aligned with God's will.

What's holding you back? What stands in the way of your claiming your God-given freedom and doing something new and life-giving? If there's something you're waiting for ... imagine that you already have it. What now? What would you do?

And are you so sure you can't already do it, right here and right now? Today?

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