Late last night my son crawled in my bed, terrorized by a bad dream.
He was so stricken with fear his body was shaking. He didn’t want to go back to sleep, because every time he closed his eyes the horrific images and voices reappeared. He begged me to turn on a light; because the dark held him captive to his terrifying nightmare.
I have to admit I took the lazy approach at first. I was exhausted, barely coherent, and all I wanted to do was turn my head over on my pillow and to go back to sleep. So I pulled him close, wrapped his arms around me, and told him what I’ve told all my kids since they were little, “I want you to say the name of Jesus - over and over again.”
My own mom had taught me this from the time I was a little girl. What a mighty weapon she gave me in teaching me the power in the name of Jesus. St. Paul assures us "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord..." (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV)
That includes the devil himself, by the way. ;)
I could hear my son repeating the name of Jesus under his breath, but I could see it wasn’t enough to set this boy free. Still shivering with fright, crying out to me, he desperately needed me to help him fight the haunting battle inside his head.
I put my hand on his forehead and made the sign of the cross. Immediately I sensed his relief through that simple yet powerful signing. One more step toward victory.
With my hand held securely on his head, I began to pray that God would free him from every fear and anxiety, asking that every image and voice flee from his mind. I prayed that God would fill his mind with total peace and give his tired body rest. And then I whispered, Thank You, Jesus. Still clinging to me, his body began to relax. The shaking slowly calmed, and he fell back to sleep.
Freedom isn’t free.
I’ve heard these words a few times over the years around Memorial Day and July 4th - summoning us as Americans not to forget the gift of our freedom; and to remember the countless men and women who fought for that freedom and paid the price for it.
Our freedom isn’t free.
Contemplating these words always moves me.
Whether it’s political freedom, personal freedom or spiritual freedom---freedom is never free. There is a price that must be paid for it and a battle that must be waged for it.
As Americans, we have enemies who want nothing more than to destroy our political and personal freedom---by seizing our country’s power, draining our wealth, and controlling our society.
As Christians, we too have an enemy who wants to destroy our spiritual freedom---by seizing God’s power at work in us, draining the wealth of His love, peace, forgiveness and grace, and controlling us and our families.
This 4th of July, as we remember the gift of our freedom and the sacrifice of the ones who’ve fought for it, let’s also remember the sacrifice of the One who paid the ultimate price for our spiritual freedom.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1,NIV)
Sisters, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been set free! Free from fear, from sin, from lies, from guilt and shame, and from the painful wounds of our past.
But our freedom isn’t free.
The spiritual freedom Jesus won for us wasn’t free, because He paid the price for it with His very life.
Yet here is the irony, mamas: Jesus offers us this freedom as a free gift. It's a free gift that we must freely receive. He will never force it upon us. Instead he invites us to reach out and accept that freedom. How sad it is - despite the ultimate price Jesus paid to set us free, that most of us still walk around in slavery. So do our husbands and kids.
Jesus desperately wants to set us free---the cross proves that---but we have to want that freedom. We have to ask for it, open ourselves up to it, and choose to live in it.
And when it comes to our precious husbands and kids - sometimes they need us to pray with them and for them - so that they can receive that freedom too. Last night was a sobering reminder of that.
And here’s one more irony: Even though Jesus already paid the price for our freedom, we can't stand idle and take it for granted. As St. Paul reminds us:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
(1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV)
Girls, when it comes to our freedom, and the freedom of those we love - we can’t turn our heads over on our pillow and fall back asleep. We have to fight for it. We have to guard ourselves, our husbands and our children every day against the evil one - who prowls around looking to devour our freedom. In fact, St. Paul commands every Christian to guard themselves by putting on the armor of God every day. (Check it out in Ephesians 6:10-18)
Freedom isn’t free.
These words move me. I hope they will move you too. I hope that together, we will allow these words to move us and stir us to a deeper gratitude, openness and vigilance to the freedom Christ set us free for.
This week, I invite you to take a moment and stir your heart - even if it’s while nursing your baby, sitting by the pool, or driving your kids all over town - and cry out to the Lord with three simple prayers from your heart to His…
Thank You, Jesus, for the price You paid so that I might be free. Stir my heart with gratitude.
Give me more of Your freedom, Jesus. Show me where I’m still held captive and where in my life You are calling me to a deeper freedom. Turn the light on in my darkness and set me free! Stir my heart with openness.
Guard me, Jesus. Guard my husband and my children - against every scheme of the devil. Protect us in Your freedom. Stir my heart with vigilance.
We were made for freedom, moms. Let’s do this.