The day before Easter, I sat down to have my daily quiet time. Now quiet time, in my house, is rarely quiet. So, quiet time is a very relative term. This is the time my coffee is hot, I am snuggled under my blankets, and my books are in my lap, ready to be opened. There is something magical about this time with the Lord. By magical, I really mean magnetic. My children are drawn to me, like a moth to a flame, when my Bible comes out. I would love to tell you that I use this time to teach them the word of God, but I don’t. I do use the time wisely. I drink my coffee before it gets cold, while I listen to the hearts of my children. Pretty sure that is a-ok with God, as His own scriptures say not to hinder the children.
This early morning was a little different. My children were asleep. I read while the coffee was still hot. When I journaled, the thought came to mind: “What does the death and Resurrection of Christ mean to me?” I sat with that question for quite a while. As I waited for an answer, my attention was caught by a beautiful cardinal. Its color was so rich and vibrant.
Distracted by the bird, my answer came: “The cardinal doesn’t know he’s red.”
What?! Again I heard, “He doesn’t know he’s red.”
“You don’t know you are free.”
The bird didn’t know his own color. I didn’t know my own freedom. I have been free since I can remember. I have grown up in a free world. I have grown up in a largely Christian community all of my life. Freedom is always available and never persecuted. The world I grew up in, I didn’t have a major testimony to share, or story of great redemption. My version of freedom, was right living so that I didn’t get into trouble. I couldn’t see my own freedom, because it wasn’t set against the backdrop of captivity. At least that’s what I thought.
The pastor spoke on Easter morning, about the cross symbolizing freedom. Well played, God. Well played. But, something he said spoke to me about my own freedom that I couldn’t see. He said that many of us have been held captive by the law of religion. Being a preacher’s kid, I knew the Bible and all of the rules it contained. The ones that make sense, the ones that make you uncomfortable, the ones you can’t discuss with your grandma. I knew them and I did all that I could to follow them all, and the ones you learn in church to be a “good Christian”. I have been trying to be a good girl and work off a debt that I knew had already been paid.
I am not sure who originally shared this illustration, but it is one that wrecks my works-driven, grace misunderstanding nature: Imagine standing in a long line, waiting to check out and pay your bill. You finally reach the counter and the cashier tells you the debt is paid. You say “Ok.” and go to the end of the line, only to wait forever to try and pay the same satisfied debt again. When you return to the counter, you are sent away, again, as there is nothing you can pay. The bill is covered. You say “Ok.” and go to the end of the line, again and again and again. This is the endless, exhausting cycle of someone trying to pay God back. You can’t. I can’t. I am already free from that debt. I just couldn’t see it, at least not yet.
The setting of captivity I didn’t know my freedom was staged within, was the bondage of religion. I wasn’t addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, I had been enslaved to a debt that no longer existed. It was eradicated before I was even created. I was tied fast to good works that would help me “earn” my way to Heaven. I was wrapped up in unlocked chains of rule following that would give me enough “grace points” to get into eternity.
In the light of the captivity of religion that once held me, I now saw my own freedom. It was beautiful. It was vibrant. It was grace colored. I no longer walk this earth, not knowing my own freedom. This Easter, I learned that the death and Resurrection of Christ meant I was free, you are free, and it is the most lovely treasure to see.