Today is a day to celebrate freedom, but we are remiss as believers if we do not celebrate our freedom in Christ…freedom from sin and death, from things that hinder our growth, from fear, pride and shame, among other things. I have been freed from many sins, situations, and hardships over the years, and I’m sure you have as well. Celebrate that! Share your story! Over breakfast we were listening to this podcast with author Jeff Goins (whose work often encourages me to share my story), and he was talking about his new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. (I haven’t read it yet, but intend to and love all his books!) Artist or not, none of us are promised an easy life. Tolkein is mentioned in this podcast, which reminds me today of his book, The Hobbit. 

Bilbo Baggins is the main character and he reluctantly agrees to embark on a treacherous journey with some new acquaintances, 13 dwarves, and a wizard, Gandalf.  The goal?  To claim the treasure that has been passed on to the dwarves–if they can make it through Mirkwood forest and past the dragon.  At many points along the journey, Bilbo wishes that he never agreed to this.  But {spoiler alert!} once he acquires the ring, and learns that it will provide invisibility, he becomes quite a leader among his fellow travelers.  He is able to help them through many a pinch, and the incident we’ll discuss is no different.  The problem is that the dwarves are not that excited about his method of escape from their current dilemma:  capture by the Elvish King.

“Bilbo saw that the time had come to explain his idea, as far as he could; but he did not feel at all sure how the dwarves would take it.  His fears were quite justified, for they did not like it a bit, and started grumbling loudly in spite of their danger.  ‘We shall be bruised and battered to pieces, and drowned too, for certain”‘ they muttered.  ‘We thought you had got some sensible notion, when you managed to get hold of the keys.  This is a mad idea!’ ‘Very well’! said Bilbo very downcast, and also rather annoyed.  ‘Come along back to your nice cells, and I will lock you all in again, and you can sit there comfortably and think of a better plan–but don’t suppose I shall ever get hold of the keys again, even if I feel inclined to try.”

Perhaps you see the corollary?  At times, I see myself in the same situation as the dwarves….hearing the Lord’s voice leading me out of sin, shame, or another self-made prison, but not wanting to face the difficult road out. Isn’t it easier to remain trapped, than it is to risk freedom, and the treacherous path to get there?  We choose the comfortable, but deadly route, when freedom is right around the corner, beckoning us to come near.  I have chosen imprisonment far too many times.

As mentioned above, Jeff Goins shares a story of J.R.R. Tolkien being stuck as he was writing what we now know as The Lord of the Rings. C.S. Lewis was a contemporary of Tolkien, and in response to him feeling ‘stuck’, was able to help Tolkien get ‘unstuck’. You can listen in to hear more, but my point here is that freedom is not a solitary journey. We need fellow travelers to spur us on and lend a hand as Bilbo did for the dwarves and vice versa. Do you have a group of people doing this for you? Have you looked? Have you prayed for this? Don’t go it alone.

As Christians, we are all moving from death to life, through the process of sanctification, and we as a family have recently entered a new season of freedom. We have moved out of darkness into light. There will be hardships, for sure.  But these very trials and joys will all be a part of the story. Check out Steffany Gretzinger’s song Out of Hiding – I love this line -“and oh as you run, what hindered love, will only become part of the story…” What is holding you back?  Are you pressing on, pressing into the fight for freedom, or lingering in the comfy prison cell? On this day, in which we celebrate the freedoms that have been granted through the courage of our forefathers, may I challenge you to turn your mind to the battle that Christ won on the cross?

Galatians 5:1:  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom is yours, if you will accept the journey….even if reluctantly, like Bilbo 🙂

 

The journey to freedom in Christ

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