Rely on God's guidance

It’s a matter of control and I don’t intend to embrace any religion. That’s because I know what’ll happen…it’ll become dictatorial and take over my independence. I value my freedom too much.

I ran across these comments this week as I organized the free-lance writing files I house in my den—files bulging with notes and articles I regularly collect. This particular quote was hastily scribbbled onto the back of a discarded envelope. Written in my handwriting, I found it shoved into an old, discolored manilla folder labeled, “Ideas to Remember.” After holding it in my hand for a few moments, I recalled recording these words following a conversation I once shared with a neighbor, shortly after my marriage.

She had noticed that my husband and I hurried out the door very early most Sunday mornings and asked where we headed so regularly. When I told her we taught Sunday school and attended a worship service, she hastily presented her views on “religion,” punctuated with strong emotion, before hurrying away in her car. I suppose she believed I needed some explanation as to her whereabouts on Sunday mornings, but she did not stay long enough to learn I did not.

Thinking back to that long-ago conversation, I suppose I could have taken offence at her unsolicited comments, but I felt strangely honored, instead. I liked her spunkiness and assummed she had picked up on the fact that she could speak her mind and I would patiently listen. As time progressed we became good friends and I made a promise to myself that I would never forget her sentiments, for they powerfully remind me what a lousy job we Christians sometimes do when portraying the results of living a faith-filled life. Too often we appear regimented, uptight, and tentative.

It’s a far cry from what God hopes will result from the gifts of faith: awareness of His love, forgiveness, and freedom. When you discover faith you realize that you are free to be yourself because God created you exactly the way He intended. And when you feel free, gathering the energy and confidence to go after your dreams may be scary and challenging, but it is also enticing and probable. What God asks is that we incorporate Him at every turn and be willing to do a bit of honest soul searching and self reflection.

It was way back then, in that old neighborhood of ours, that my understanding of faith and freedom began. It started with a daily experience with God. It continued with a restlessness and a need for change. My husband and I asked God for energy and wisdom and a clear vision. In time we moved to Western Washington and onto a parcel of forrested land that we knew could be wonderful--decorated with time, effort, and children.

It was downright scary at moments, for we left a hometown filled with family and friends, continuity and familiarity. But we had developed a desire for new adventures and accepted the freedom to express ourselves in new ways. We asked God to allow our decisions to fall into place if these fresh opportunities proved to be the right ones for our growing family. God listened and responded through the events of our lives. We sensed His presence every step of the way.

This week, while I contemplated the concept of freedom in Christ from my den, I watched out my bay window as our golden lab puppy repeatedly carried out onto the lawn the new cushion I recently purchased for the white wicker chair that sits on the porch. I watched as my daughter, who was just shy of 2 years old when we moved into our house, today expertly back the truck to hitch up her horse trailer. I smiled as my eldest daughter reported that she got just the classes she wanted to begin her sophomore year of college.

I sat in the den, amazed. Amazed that the vision God had given us years ago fills my days. Amazed that as the kids grow in their independence and the kind of support they need from my husband and me changes, He is continuing to build new visions for our life together. It is a life that looks different from the one we’ve lived thus far, but it continues to be filled with adventures where we can express new interests and passions.

“You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have set my feet in a spacious place,” I read in Psalm 31. The Christian life can be creative and flexible. Let’s each ask God for a vision and the courage to run with it.

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