I read something this summer, and I couldn't get it out of my head. It was a "light switch-flipped-on" moment. You know the ones. Where the truth of it sinks into your inner soul while simultaneously making you wonder how you never saw it before. Here were the light switch words:
"Our freedom of choice is so valuable to Him that He restrains Himself from manifesting His presence in a way where our freedom of choice would be removed…when He reveals Himself in fullness, even the devil and his demons will declare that Jesus Christ is Lord." —Bill Johnson, Encountering the Goodness of God
He restrains himself. Wow. That's how important our freedom is to him. How important it is that we choose him.
It makes sense though, doesn't it? We are made in his image and don't we want to be chosen as well? And don't we want to choose?
Isn't that the underlying beauty of a wedding? That underneath the wood arches, flickering through the white candle flames, breathing amongst the fragrant floral, and swirling around the beautiful white taffeta, organza and lace, are two people making a passionate public declaration before everyone: "I choose you."
And we know God already chose us. He had us each in mind before the formation of the world and molded us intricately and uniquely (Psalm 139); he sent his son to die for us, his shed blood payment for our sins to help reunite us to holy Father God (John 3:16). But we have the freedom whether or not to choose him.
I think of the impactful portrayal in the Bible of the wayward son and how the Father welcomed him back with outstretched arms and a celebration when he decided to return home. (Luke 15:11-32) He does the same with us. He waits for us to come home.
That drive in us to have the right to choose is pretty strong as well. We want to choose our entre from the restaurant, what college we will go to, how many children we will have, what career we will pursue, how to spend our money, where we live, what church to worship at… (I mean who hasn't been a tad irritated when our boyfriend or husband comes home with his favorite ice cream flavor to share. Come on girlfriend. You know what I'm talking about.)
I'd also like to think that is one of the reasons something inside me rises up when I see a government growing their scope of control over my personal life decisions, my friends', and even my enemys'. Not only do I understand the danger in it, it feels wrong. Not how it was meant to be. I believe it is also the reason why a person in bondage to another person or to a group, mentally or physically, in our country or throughout the world, hurts our hearts. This is not how we were created to be.
Freedom is important when we raise our kiddos too. My parents, thankfully, understood the value of freedom. They were masters at learning how to let go and give me and my siblings more freedom to make our own choices as we got older, while simultaneously guiding and speaking wisdom. Even if our choices led us down some undesirable paths with some less than great consequences. I'd like to think we adopted some of those same strategies with our kids. And as a parent, it isn't always easy to watch. I'm sure God's heart hurts sometimes too. But he pays that price for the beauty of our freedom to choose. To choose him. To choose rightness. And for the beauty of relationship, what he created us for.
My guess is, too, that when we choose to be more like Christ, it warms his heart. Like we feel when we see our kiddo share with the other child that is without. On their own.
God values our freedom and relationship so much he withholds his glory. So I think it's okay if we value freedom as well. And I pray that in your freedom, you will be so drawn to God's love that you will choose relationship with him, the lover of your soul.
"He is there for anyone humble enough to recognize his or her personal need. He is also subtle enough to be ignored by those who are filled with themselves." —Bill Johnson
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. —Galatians 5:1
You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. —Galatians 5:13