Monday, July 07, 2008

Freedom to choose

Today’s Reading: John 13:21-22(NIV)

21 After He had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” 22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them He meant.

Good morning!

From the balcony of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, I could see outside through the large windows at the top of their Family Life Center. I watched the people passing by the church in a big hurry on this beautiful, sunny Sunday morning. There were four large windows, each of them bearing a cross in its frame. The pastor’s words echoed throughout the room, “Today, we are declaring our total dependence upon Jesus Christ!” And as I listened, I saw lots of independent people asserting their freedom to choose, while driving their automobiles in the opposite direction from the church’s parking lot. I couldn’t help but wonder where they were headed. It was a long weekend – Americans were celebrating the Independence Day holiday in high style. Many had made plans with family and friends. Some of the SUVs and pickup trucks were pulling skiing boats and camper trailers behind them. I guessed they were probably headed to Lake Taneycomo for a day of frolicking in the sun. Sometimes, we all tend to leave the Lord of life behind as we place our personal priorities ahead of commitment to Christ and kingdom work. We leave Him hanging there on the cross while we do as we please, knowing He will be there waiting for us to come home. “Where were they going,” I thought to myself, disappointed these cars were not turning into the church parking lot to spend an hour thanking God for the freedom to choose.

I saw the smiling face of a happy little girl swinging on the swing set in the church’s playground. I could barely see her, except when she pumped her legs and the swing took her higher, towards the edge of the picture window. Her blond curly hair was flying in the breeze, and she looked peaceful in her new found freedom on that swing set. It was as if her childlike faith had simply set her free! She would appear in that window every five seconds or so, her frame shadowed just behind the cross. It was in that rare and holy moment when God began to reveal why Jesus Christ cared so much for humanity that He would lay down His life for even someone like me.

You see, Jesus knew that we would all betray Him at some point in time. Christ knew we might break our promises to make Him our first priority – the Lord and Savior of our lives. Jesus believes that every heart is worth dying for – every person is of infinite worth and value to the Father’s heart. He came in the flesh over 2,000 years ago to free that little girl who was swinging on the playground, so that she might fly higher in faith. He came to save the ones who were driving in the opposite direction from the church on Sunday morning, waiting patiently for them to turn their hearts around and follow Him. Jesus came to save the woman standing in the church balcony, peering out the window, thinking about what it means to be truly free in total dependence upon Jesus Christ. And if I had been the only one to betray Him, He would have died just to save me.

The disciples were at a loss for words when Jesus said that someone there would betray Him. He knew, even before He went to the cross that every heart would turn away, but it did not deter Him from submitting in obedience to the Father’s plan of salvation. As we reflect this week upon our independence as an American nation, one nation, under God, may Christ reveal to each of us our desperate need to place our total dependence upon His Word. This is not just for the freedoms we enjoy in the US, but for our freedom from sin and eternal separation: for the mistakes of our past, for the present of today, which is truly a gift, and for every tomorrow. Please turn around now and come back to the Lord.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


© Copyright 2008, Deb Spaulding

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