Thursday, February 24, 2011

What It Really Means To Be Free

I was tempted to start another blog yesterday, but I didn't give in to the urge. I've gone that route before, and it's too hard to try and compartmentalize my life, when what is on this blog should represent a whole, all of me. Lately I have been "foraging" for greens and such to accompany our meals. I thought I would start a blog about forage finds, but then I decided that I would just make a foraging label on this blog!

Anyhow, I went out to the stubble of last year's garden and was pleasantly surprised to find some Arugula poking up through the brush. There wasn't much, but enough to make a small February, no less!

Earlier I had ground some wheat kernels to make our daily bread, and I had the venison from Autumn's hunt, thawing in a bowl. I was inspired to take a picture of this bountiful trio. I find there is so much beauty, so much art in the daily living of life.

A little later I was making tea from the mint gathered in Summer's ebb. How generous is a God that lavishes us with herbs and spices to perfume our days.

Isn't that what life needs to be? We need to find the green in winter's bleak, know the mirth of starkness and vulnerability.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading  Lysa TerKeurst's book, Made To Crave. One of the Bible verses Lysa mentions throughout the book is this:

 " 'Everything is permissible for me' "--but not everything is beneficial. " 'Everything is permissible for me' "--but I will not be mastered by anything. (1Corinthians 6:12)

I have thought a lot about that verse lately, and I experienced the weight, the empowerment, the freedom of it - this morning. I was preparing pancakes for the children, and I was just dying to have one. OK, two..maybe three? Small ones? I thought- "I'll just have them without the's fine. They're so warm and fluffy- and cooked in bacon grease to boot."

Now I like pancakes, but I don't die for them; I mean they're good, but they're not GOOD! But isn't it funny how the moment we feel deprived of something, we long for it- pine for it!?

I found this in our computer's photo library...fits the post, huh? Emily took it one day when she and mary Margaret were having a "photo shoot."

 I wanted those pancakes in the worst way! I have been praying for God to help me make better food choices, and in the midst of pancakes and syrup I had a grace moment. I thought of the verse mentioned above, and it suddenly dawned on me :  I am not being deprived of these pancakes. I am making the choice to forgo pancakes and make a healthier breakfast choice to benefit and sustain my body until the next meal.

Making choices is not about deprivation. Making choices is empowerment. God has given us free will to make decisions that will fortify and edify our souls.

Can a simple act of choosing whether or not to have pancakes for breakfast be a spiritual decision? As Lysa explains so eloquently in her book...YES!!!

Every moment is made of choices, Every hour is made of moments, Every day is made of hours, every year is made of days, every life is made of years.....Every lifetime is built upon the choices we make, moment to moment.

I have wondered " How in the world did these pounds creep up on me the last ten years?" Creep is the right word. Think about it: If you only gained three pounds a year, ten years later you would be thirty pounds heavier. Three pounds a year averages out to only be 1/4 pound a month, but ten years later you're thirty pounds heavier. This scares me! But what it tells me is that gaining weight doesn't happen all at once; it's an accumulation of moment to moment poor choices and bad habits over a long period of time. Conversely, losing weight will be a matter of making good choices over and over, moment to moment- for a long period of time, for a lifetime!

Sam's Leggo creation

Jean- Pierre De Caussade, in his book, Abandonment To Divine Providence, writes:

"Take away from the senses what they worship and they will weep like deserted children, but faith must triumph, for nothing can destroy the will of God. When the senses are really attacked, starved and stripped they collapse, and faith becomes stronger and more alive than ever." (p41)

Isn't that so true? Our senses, our cravings, plead sometimes to be satisfied. It may be wanting to buy something, or physical lust, or unsatiated appetites for food. Even more serious addicitons: alcohol, drugs, pornography-  all have the same root. All these temptations and addictions are attractive to us because they promise to fill a longing deep within our souls. The sadness, the irony, is that none will.

The only way to satisfy our souls is to drink from the living well, to satiate with God.

Caussade writes:

"Neither reason nor the senses are ever satisfied, for they never see the sufficiency of grace. To hallow the name of God is, according to the scriptures, to recognize his holiness and to love and adore it in all things which proceed like words from the mouth of God. For what God creates each moment is a divine thought which is expressed by a thing, and so all these things are so many names and words through which He makes known His wishes." (p.51)

It's not that choosing whether or not to eat pancakes determines a person's spirituality. But if God cares about our lives (which He does!), and our lives are made up of moments, and moments are made up of choices, then God must care about the smallest choices, the most seemingly inconsequential decisions we make every moment!

We could be overwhelmed by the weight of having to make good choices all the time- but that would be missing the point. The beauty of having small count, is that every moment is anew. Every poor choice is passing, and there is a good choice right now, in the present moment. Every moment you are given the freedom to choose God.


One of our priests was speaking about freedom (in his wonderful Scottish accent), and he gave us a life illustration to explain how God's commands, His boundaries actually give us freedom. He said:

There were two men going to a football game in different cars. Neither of the men knew the way to the stadium. One of the men was given directions on how to get to the stadium. The other man was given no directions to the stadium, but he could drive around wherever he wanted.. Which of the men was more free to choose whether or not to go to the game?

Obviously, the man who knew the way was more free to choose whether or not he would go. In the same way, God's boundaries, His will for us enables us to have unsurpassed freedom and joy in our lives.

God's will for us is to live in freedom:
"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." (Galations 5:1)

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthains 3:17)
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

"In him [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. "
(Ephesians 3:12)

My prayer for you today, my prayer for all of us, is that through the difficult choices we must make each moment we sense God's abundant grace leading us to freedom and life in Christ.

"Our only satisfaction must be to live in the present moment as if there were nothing to expect beyond it."
(Jean-Pierre De Caussade)