Anything But Free
I woke up and went downstairs just as I did every morning. I stepped on the scale just as I did (almost) every morning. But the number on the scale was something I hadn’t seen until that morning. I officially weighed the most I ever had in my life. It was a moment that was incredibly eye-opening, life-changing, and discouraging.
I love to eat. I know everyone loves to eat, but it can become more than that for me. At some point in my life, eating became one of the ways I dealt with stress and found comfort. I loved the feeling of being free to eat whatever I wanted (chips, chocolate, and Cheerios for example) whenever I wanted (morning, midday, or midnight). The problem was that living with that type of freedom is what caused me to have a wake-up call that morning. It turned out that what I thought was the freedom to choose what to eat was actually what kept me in bondage to overeating.
Thankfully though, that morning is what started my journey towards weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. It meant that I tracked how much I ate every day, which also means that I didn’t have the freedom to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. However, it did mean that I was free to still eat while losing weight and feeling better. As a friend told me when I began my weight loss journey, each type of freedom comes with a cost. I could either keep the freedom to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but the cost would be my health and confidence. Or I could choose the cost of restricting my food intake while experiencing the freedom of better health and greater confidence. It taught me an important truth. Anything worth anything is anything but free.
I may be wrong, but I don’t think I’m the only one who has fallen into the trap of misunderstanding what freedom really is. For some of us, it might mean wanting to be free to live beyond our means when doing so actually puts us in unending debt. For others, it might mean wanting to be free to unwind after a long week by having a couple drinks on the weekend when doing so actually opens us up to an uncontrollable addiction. Charles Kingsley wrote, “There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought.” Why is it so easy to do what we like instead of what we ought even when we know it’s not the best way to live? Why do we fall for false freedom so often?
This past weekend Pastor Mike shared how living life in Christ is the best way to live. We have true freedom when we make Him our foundation. The problem is we get so stuck in the false freedom Kingsley mentions that we end up choosing false freedom and bondage rather than true freedom and discomfort. In Exodus 16, we see the Israelites just after God brought them out of Egypt. Even though they had just experienced an escape from captivity in Egypt, life in the wilderness wasn’t what they had hoped. They were thirsty and didn’t have the same food they enjoyed in Egypt. In verses 2-3, they actually wish they had died in the captivity because at least the food was better (I guess they were all out of chocolate and Cheerios in the wilderness). They wanted to eat whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and were willing to go back to captivity to do so. Does that sound familiar or is it just me? ☺
It may be weird to admit, but captivity can feel comfortable. Sometimes the bondage we know can feel more comfortable than the freedom we don’t. That doesn’t sound like the best way to live to me. Jesus said that He came to set the captives free. May we leave behind the captivity of false freedom and embrace true freedom. May we remember that there is a cost to true freedom and that Jesus already paid it. May we take hold of the truth that anything worth anything is anything but free. And may this may be a moment that is incredibly eye-opening, life-changing, and encouraging. Perhaps, like me on the scale a few years ago, you need something vitally important: a wake-up call.
Throughout the week:
This weekend Pastor Mike emphasized how building our foundation on Jesus is the best way to live.
- Read Exodus 14:26-31. What an amazing experience for the Israelites to see God move in such a mighty way! When have you had an amazing experience of seeing God move in your life?
- Now read Exodus 16:1-3. Why do you think their experience went from amazing to grumbling so quickly? Have you gone through a similar situation after your amazing experience?
- In what area of your life have you bought into seeking false freedom? What is keeping you from experiencing the true freedom Jesus offers?
- Take some time this week to memorize Galatians 5:1 which states, “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.”