Our pre-school aged granddaughter MacKayla recently graduated to a “big girl bed.” Free of the restrictions of her crib it wasn’t long before she took advantage of the situation. Instead of taking her midday nap which is very important -not just for the child but equally important for the mother (I speak from experience here folks)- she began to roam about her room. The lack of rest created some difficulties in the family such as a tired and cranky toddler. The unintended consequences of her moving from crib to bed affected not only MacKayla, but her family members as well. After a while her mother decided it best for all involved to return the youngster to the crib or as they refer to it, her “bird cage.”. The truth of the matter is MacKayla can’t be trusted with her freedom.
And neither can I.
Much of the time I don’t handle my freedom any better than this precious, precocious preschooler. As far back as I can remember I have longed to be free. As a child I wanted to be free from the restraints of living on a farm so far from town, from the rules of my parents, church and school. Like MacKayla, when I became free from the restrictions of what or whomever I began to roam and take advantage of the situation, I just didn’t want to be caged in. As I look back I think I confused freedom with rebellion. I had it wrong from the git go thinking my folks and others (but especially God) were trying to box me in, when in fact they were giving me boundaries to ensure my freedom (not to mention my safety and joy). Oftentimes the more rope I got the more I hung myself with it. Wandering outside of the boundaries, like sweet little MacKayla, created difficulties for myself and others. Worst of all many of the choices I made did nothing to fill the craving for the something that I was searching for that I could couldn’t name and that seemed perpetually just beyond my grasp, which today I can identify as a personal relationship with God.
Like my preschool aged granddaughter, I had (have) not a clue what was (is) best for me. Paul said it best in one of his letters to the Corinthians, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. “I tend to confuse the truth for a lie. It’s not the boundaries that cage me in, it is the pleasures and things of this world and the freedom to assert my own will. Don’t misunderstand me please, pleasures aren’t bad. But they are the things that can and do trap and keep us in a box. Here is a brief list: food, drugs, alcohol, things, money, sugar, handbags (my personal favorite), relationships, gambling, sex, social media, freedom to say and do as I wish without regard for consequence and so on and so forth. Choice is at the same time both a wonderful and a terrible gift. Like snowflakes we are alike, and yet we are all different. We crave the space be the unique creations that we are and to be free to be ourselves. And yet, deep down inside at a heart level, like little children we crave the very boundaries we fight against. In the end I have concluded going my own way keeps me caged and freedom is found in obedience to the unenforceable.
At last report, MacKayla is launching the diaper she is supposed to be wearing across the room in rebellion from the “bird cage.” ©
Be joy filled always,