It’s So Much More

One of the things that I love most about being a Professor’s wife is being able to build relationships outside of the classroom with students.  Teaching in the classroom is one thing, but there’s something even more valuable when you sit down to a cup of coffee with someone and just hear their heart.  You learn and they learn.  It’s like my high school basketball coach used to say, “You’ll learn far more about life on the court than in the classroom.”  Recently, my husband and a couple of his former students went to coffee.

They discussed all sorts of stuff. These kids are about 20 years old.  They are solid and I’m confident that they’re going to go far in life. At times, I feel like they are much wiser than I was at 20. One of these young men recounted a conversation between himself and a person with whom we mutually are acquainted.  This man of 30 some years had just gotten out of prison.  As the student was chatting with him about how God had worked in his life, the former prisoner said something to the degree of, “Yeah, I gave my life to Jesus and now I don’t do {x, x, x, and x}.” The recent graduate responded with one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard a young 20 something say, “Well, I’ve known quite a few people who’ve gotten out of jail.  They all seem to find Jesus in Jail and list the very things you said you don’t do anymore.  But do you know what I’ve found about following Jesus? It’s so much more than that.”

You know what? He is so right.  When you find Jesus (better yet….when Jesus finds you), there are some things that you’ll probably quit doing.  But finding Jesus isn’t just about subtraction.  It’s about addition.  You may be walking the line because He calls you, “mine”, but He’s come to offer you so much more than you’ve ever had.  He’s come to invite you to do more and experience more than you ever could have as a prisoner to sin.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NASB). 

Like the 30 something year old man, when you’re behind bars, all you can think about is getting out.  All you can think about is freedom. Sadly, some of the things you feel you are free to do are the very things that have been holding you captive. Without taking the chains of imprisonment off, you’ll be stuck in the cell yearning for fresh air and the ability to move freely.  When we accept the passage to freedom, the chains are removed and we are given the opportunity to add the benefits of liberty to our lives, rather the restrictions of bondage.

Whether it’s robbing a liquor store or robbing someone of their time; possession of crack cocaine or possession of too many calories; murdering someone with your hands or murdering someone with the hatred of your heart; lying under oath or lying to a friend; abusing someone physically or marring someone with words; cheating on your taxes or cheating on your spouse… all of us have things that have held us captive as we moved upon freedom of choice.

When Christ comes to set you free from captivity, He comes to set you free from the things that held you hostage after you got in bed with them.  Further than that, He comes to give you freedom in abundance.  Not just to walk around sober, drug free, or violence free, but free to do bigger and better things.  While the life you were living was for a robber, killer, and destroyer of life; your new life is for a restorer, resuscitator, and destroyer of death.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,”  John 10:10 ESV.

What does it mean to have life and to have it abundantly?  I’ve got to say that I’m learning more about that every day.  When I signed up for freedom, all I knew was I wanted to be set free from the bondage that was destined to kill me otherwise.  From each day forward, I have discovered a little more about freedom with each step I walk with Christ.

True freedom means living with no guilt and shame.  Whatever feelings of grief over what I once did and was have been replaced with the truth that I am a new creation and that my future is full of the hope of eternity with Jesus.

True freedom means coming into a new fellowship with a body of people who have been set free just like me. No matter what got us each in the clink, we all have been radically set free.  We all have been given another chance.  We’ve been given the chance to walk in the cloak of Christ’s perfection, which is promised to keep us out of the penitentiary of doom.

True freedom goes further than fellowship and guarantees adoption into a beautifully diverse family, full of ordinary people rescued to become extraordinary children of their Father.

True freedom means being able to throw rescue ropes to those who are drowning in incarceration.  It means shining a light in the darkest of dungeons to point them to The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

True freedom means breathing in peace after suffocating in sorrow.

True freedom means not worrying about what you will eat or drink because your rescuer owns the cattle on a thousand hills who happens to be preparing a banquet for you in the mansion He is building for you in the neighborhood who’s streets are paved with gold.

True freedom is so much more.

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV.)

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