Thursday, February 2, 2017

Freedom, falling and the fowler's snare...

"We escaped like a bird from the fowler's snare. 
The trap is broken, and we are free!"
Psalm 127:4

A little over two years ago, I participated in a trust fall exercise with my mission trip team.  Each of us, one by one, stood at the top of the ledge and confessed our biggest fear.  Then, we turned around and holding our bodies stiff as boards, one by one, fell backwards and downwards into the arms of our team below.  It was meant to be an exercise in both trust - and letting go.    

My biggest fear, in that moment, was that they wouldn't catch me - that they would try, but that the sheer force of my fall would cause me to crash right through their arms and onto the ground below, broken.

Because sin is like this.

We find ourselves free falling, fast and hard.  Grace breaks our fall, but sometimes, the force of the collision leaves us with broken bones - and bruised hearts.

I intended to write about the tattoo on my wrist soon after I made the decision to get it.  It was the week of my fortieth birthday and I had thought about it long and hard, this marking that meant so much to me - while simultaneously facing two of my biggest fears in life: regret and permanency.  

I wish I would've taken the time to write more about it then, in that moment, because I would need more than a one word reminder etched on my wrist to remind me of the truth that God had long-since etched in my heart.

"So Christ has truly set us free. 
Now make sure that you stay free, 
and don't get tied up again in slavery..." 
Galatians 5:1 NLT 

Because the truth is, at any given time, I am either walking in freedom or free-falling.  There doesn't seem to be much in between.  After all, the concepts of balance and moderation have never really been my thing.  I'm either all in or I'm all out - many times to my detriment, in all of the things.  

Someone asked me if the tattoo was a Lynyrd Skynyrd reference.  I laughed, and then was immediately horrified that I hadn't even thought of the song "Free Bird" even though that could be the literal translation for what was now a permanent part of my body.  I didn't have an answer at the time for why I'd chosen the bird, I just liked the way it looked.  I liked what it symbolized to me.  There were a half dozen verses on freedom that I'd thought about when choosing the word "free", so when asked, I couldn't give a definitive verse, but several: 

Galatians 5:13: For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 

John 8:32: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:36: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 

2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
All I really knew is that I'd finally felt free - not to be myself - but from myself, from my past and from my who I'd been.  As David Platt once said, regarding the verse in Galatians, "We are not free to sin, we are free from sin."

But what about when we're free falling?  It was as though getting the word free etched on my arm was more of an invitation for the enemy than a declaration.  Because even when we are free, "there is not a place beneath which a believer walks that is free from snares" (Spurgeon).  
God delivers his people, even when they get into the snare. Alas! my hearer, you and I know something about the net; we have been inside it, we have; we have not only seen it spread, we have been in its folds. We know something about the cage, for we have, unfortunately, been in the cage ourselves, even since we have known the Lord. The fowler's hand has been upon our neck; it has only been the sovereign grace of God that has prevented him from utterly destroying us.  ~ Spurgeon, 1857

I, too, know something about the net - the smooth steel bars of the cage, the fowler's hands gripping my neck - and my heart.  But I also know the whisper of my Savior, the one who sets me free over and over and over again, through His word.  

And I knew why I'd chosen the word free.  I knew why I'd chosen the bird. I've escaped like a bird from the fowler's snare.  The trap is broken, and I am free.  Psalm 127:4.

Over and over again.  

"For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler" (Psalm 91:3). 

I love you, Lord.  
You rescued me. 

You are all that I want
You're all that I need
In your freedom I will live. 

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