I’ve always rebelled against rules, maybe not always outwardly, but definitely inwardly, especially the kind of rules that don’t make any sense.  I grew up with a lot of rules and then I went to a college that inflicted even more than I grew up with…that was quite shocking…to be a young adult but treated once again like a 5 year old, being told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to clean my room, what to wear, and the list goes on for pages, a whole handbook or so. I became hardened and bitter, and I learned how to play the system. It seems like people who are under a rule system want everyone else to be under the same set of rules, because that’s where the power is. If you can convince a bunch of people to live under the rules that you have established and to be fearful of all things outside that system, then you can keep everyone in line…mostly. 


I’m not much for hierarchy…I think I’ve become too post-modern for that…at least that’s what Jeff tells me.  I dislike systems and institutions where the people “in charge” impose a bunch of rules they have made up. I think Jesus might have disliked these kinds of hierarchies too…maybe that’s why He picked a bunch of ragamuffin losers to be His disciples. In Matthew 23:4, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and scribes, who were the religious leaders of the day, who “bind heavy burdens hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.” They had their own set of rules…they didn’t need Jesus.


Rules typically do just the opposite of what they’re meant to do. The law actually makes a person want to sin more, and that’s when our need for Christ is exposed. The passage in I Cor.15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” The next verse goes on to say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice it doesn’t say we have victory by following more rules; rules don’t give life…Jesus does. Rules kill relationships because the rules become the focus, and someone other than God becomes the judge.


When I was in these kind of systems, the rules in no way made me want to follow Jesus because that’s not what rules do; they instead made me focus on how good I was at keeping the rules or how far I could go without getting caught, but fear was always involved either way.  Back in those days, I didn’t even know Jesus all that well…I didn’t have to. If I did and said the right things, Jesus didn’t have to be a factor.


When we moved to Alabama almost 7 years ago, we didn’t know anyone there.  For the first time in my life, I was under no rule system. There was no institution to rebel against. There was nothing to prove. There was no one telling me how to live. It was freeing, but it was also scary…no boundaries as such. I’d always been told how to live, what to do, and now I had to listen to Abba’s voice and really allow Him to rule my life.  Ever since then, Abba in his graciousness gives me a song for each difficult time in my life. At that time, my song was “Painting Pictures of Egypt” by Sara G.  As I drove to school to teach each morning, I would play it as loudly as I could (I’ve busted out a couple of speakers this way) and would sing at the top of my lungs, while the tears would pour down my face…this was probably a little scary for my boys in the back of the van…they’ve since grown accustomed to my crazy outbursts.


“The past is so tangible, I know it by heart, familiar things are never easy to discard. I was longing for some freedom, but now I hesitate to go, I am caught between the promise and the things I know. I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt leaving out what it lacked. The future feels so hard and I want to go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”


I was losing whatever sense of self I had had up to that point, and I was crying out to Abba in the only way I knew how. He answered that cry. He had already ripped away everything I knew, set us down in the middle of nowhere, and made us realize we truly did need Him. Then, He led us to a church body where the people loved on us and accepted us for who we were; we didn’t have to pretend. They let us lick our wounds without standing in judgment of us. And there were no rules to keep or standards to follow…somehow these people had not gotten a copy of the handbook that I had lived under for 30 years. So, this was what freedom in Christ actually looked like…the freedom to truly love other people without strings and expectations attached.


So, we moved to Nashville this past summer. Nashville is where Jeff grew up, and there are all kind of expectations in that, especially when you have family around. People think you are a certain way, or they think you should be a certain way…hence the conflict I’m now finding within myself. Personally, I’m not worried about getting out of line. Out of experience, I know that Abba will correct…not punish… me when I go too far. I certainly don’t need some holier-than-thou person to be my Holy Spirit. Isn’t that what the Pharisees tried to be? And Jesus was constantly getting in their faces about it.


Right now, I know I’m not walking in freedom…I have it, I’m just not walking in it…I really want to walk in love and grace these days, but I find I’m being the prickly, unloving one, and I hate that. So am I back to focusing on people and the rules they make, instead of Christ? The enemy loves using anything that will take my eyes off of Christ…I really hate that.


I just got back from being in Tuscaloosa for a couple days, where I was loved on once again. The people there accept me for who I am, no matter what mess I sometimes bring to the table…I felt freedom and joy like I haven’t felt in a while.  Right now, I just want my sense of freedom back; I feel like it was swiped from me when I wasn’t looking…enter the prickly, angry person with the chip on her shoulder.  I think my focus lately has been on rebelling against people who I think are judging me instead of embracing Christ with my whole being and allowing His love to wash over me once again. I know He is the Way, the Truth, the Life…His life lived through me. The Truth shall set you free…yes, He already has…




2 Responses to “Freedom”

  1. April 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I am so right there with you on this Kim.

  2. 2 Julie Herman
    April 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Amen sister! I completely understand your thoughts here. Only in the last 4 years have I seen myself grow in grace and mercy (without being around anyone who has known me all my life). Again, I think I grew immune to things of the spirit when I was younger.

    I think it’s very hard to grow as a Christian when it feels like others are constantly staring down their noses at you. I too found a wonderful church family where we were also welcomed with open arms and not judged for who we are, where we came from, or what we did in our pasts. I miss that familiarity very much since we moved last summer.

    It’s amazing the FREEDOM, grace, and outpouring of love you can feel when you know that only God the Father is the only one in this world that we will stand before to be judged!

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