“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.” ~ The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:1
I have not preached in two weeks, which means I have had some extra time to read and reflect in ways and on subjects that I often overlook. One subject is me. My soul. Self-care.
Recently, within one hour, three people told me that I looked very tired. Not just physically tired, but a deeper, soul tired. Exausted. It was true. One way I’ve tried to describe it is “hitting the wall.” In marathons, runners usually “hit the wall” around mile 18 or so, when all the glycogen has been depleted from their muscles. If glycogen is not replenished, the legs just shut down. Race over.
After two thrilling years of church planting with crowds attending and ministries flouishing, I hit the wall. With the “you look tired” wake up call, I ordered and read two helpful books, The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress and The Introverted Church. Both books spoke to me in pesonal, profound and much needed ways.
Like a combustible chemical compound, these books have opened a fissure in my soul. And through that fissure, liberation—a genuine existential freedom in the gospel. In fact, I am feeling unexpectedly refreshed and gratefully reinvigorated for the next leg of the race.
So what is it that feels so liberated? Here are some areas off the top of my head.
- I am free from guilt and condemnation.
- I am free to be an introverted church planter/pastor (much more on this in future posts!).
- I am free to laugh (especially at myself).
- I am free to not have all the answers.
- I am free to fail.
- I am free to dance.
- I am free to be wrong.
- I am free to tell dumb jokes.
- I am free to lead out of weakness.
- I am free to take off my mask of hypocrisy, being radically real as the chief of sinners.
- I am free to not have to fix people (and free not to be fixed myself).
- I am free to not have to please people.
- I am free to say no so that I can be free to say yes.
- I am free to be misunderstood, criticized, maligned and despised.
- I am free to design my life in a way that will most effectively bless the church.
- I am free to delight in being an adopted, forgiven, accepted and righteous son.
- I am free to forgive.
- I am free to live with the faith of a child, filled with wonder, trust and thankfulness.
- I am free to act radically generous in light of the gospel.
- I am free to ask hard, penetrating, personal, uncomfortable questions of people who need them asked.
- I am free to offend the religious.
- I am free to love the unlovable.
- Sadly, I am not free from paying my mortgage. 🙂
Anyway, all of this is possible because of the cross, where my freedom was purchased and liberty lives. My Father is the sovereign King. I have been given the robe of perfect righteousness from the ultimate elder brother, Jesus. The Spirit has sealed me for heaven and indwells me, continually convincing me that I am accepted in the Beloved.
Yet I confess that living a life unshackled from the condemnation of the law and from human expectations will be a struggle. Every morning and throughout the day I will be tempted to put on various yokes of slavery. For, while preaching grace, I have lived (quite unconsciously) under the yoke of legalism, worry and the fear of man for so long that I really don’t know how to be free, walking in the light of the gospel. So pray for me if you think about it, because living as a liberated pastor is one of the best things I can do as a husband and father, pastor and friend.
I trust that there are areas in your life where you could use some freedom, too. How are you bound? What do you think it would look like for you to be free?