Letting the Sails Out of My Heart to Gain Freedom

Growing up in a Christian home, I experienced tremendous blessings flowing from two followers of Jesus who love God and one another. I love my parents, and I grew up enjoying many of the same interests they do.

My dad has done a lot of different things in his life. He’s been a school teacher. An elected representative. An entrepreneur. A successful business owner for over 20 years. A bi-vocational pastor. He’s done all that while being a terrific husband and father of four.

My mom is equally impressive. A Bible Study Fellowship leader. A high school Sunday school teacher. An entrepreneur. A business owner–launching a thriving business completely different than the family business my grandfather started in the 1960s. A counselor. A fantastic wife and mother of four kids.

So it’s probably no surprise I followed a lot of their footsteps. I enjoyed working with them in the family business for nearly ten years. I earned a BA and MBA and planned to take the reins of the family business at some point. My father’s passion for politics passed into my own bloodstream. I have great memories going door to door campaigning with my dad during hot summer days in Tennessee. My dad was effective because he really cared about people and wanted to make a difference. People saw that and trusted him. And He definitely made a positive difference when he held political office.

While politics is exceptionally important, and Christians have a duty to be engaged and involved, there is a risk that it can become too important. It can become an idol. We can begin to put our trust in [insert politician and/or political party or political movement]. Looking back I think there are times when I fell into that trap.

In 2004, Bethany and I volunteered on a presidential campaign, and we watched election results in Florida. In 2012, I spoke at an Iowa caucus for a presidential candidate. In a crowded field, candidate actually won my primary caucus (of a few hundred people). As a twenty-something, I was so stoked.

(ProTip: Campaigning in Iowa in January is not for the faint of heart. If you have a choice, volunteer in New Hampshire or South Carolina.)

I saw America at a crossroads, and I began to believe military service and political activism were the best ways to protect and preserve our Republic.

To be clear, I’m not knocking political activism. And I’m not downplaying military service. Both are very important. I think civic engagement is fantastic. It’s necessary for the preservation of our great nation. There are patriots from every state who truly love their country and want to make a difference. And they really are. But we have to be careful to avoid falling into the trap of believing that whoever occupies the White House, controls the Senate, holds the gavel in the House, and/or leads state and local governments is the end all be all.

It’s not.

Whatever happens on November 3rd, rest in the reality that Jesus is still King. He’s enough. If America goes down in flames (and I earnestly pray it doesn’t), Jesus will still be enough.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. – Paul, apostle of Christ (Philippians 4:11b-13)

There’s absolute freedom in resting in Christ and the knowledge that you have a relationship with the King of Kings. It’s why Paul (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) wrote he was content no matter his circumstances. And let’s face it, Paul had some pretty bad ones in his life. Terrible is a more accurate description.

Hidden and lowered in a basket to evade capture. Shipwrecked. Beaten. Bitten by a poisonous snake. Shipwrecked again. Nearly stoned to death. Unjustly imprisoned. Flogged. Unjustly imprisoned again. Tortured. Slandered. The list goes on and on.

Despite all those evil and unjust circumstances, freedom in Christ allowed Paul to write, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). It’s a “heads I win, tails you lose” reality. That’s what getting God gives you. Paul’s certainly not the first person to experience unshakeable peace and faith in God.

Over 500 years earlier, three Israelite young men told off the most powerful man in the world.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

Why did these three Israelite guys stand up to King Nebuchadnezzar knowing a fiery furnace was in store? Because, for them, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” They rested in God and His faithfulness. They understood this life is a vapor (James 4:14). It’s the eternal one with or without God that matters. And you are only going to experience eternal life if you’re willing to lose everything to gain God. Because at the end of the day, it’s all we need to be content and to find peace in this temporary life.

And to prove their point true, God revealed Himself in the furnace with them.

“He [Nebuchadnezzer] exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)

Give Nebuchadnezzar points for trying, but he didn’t get it right. What He saw in the fire was the one and only Son of God, keeping company with his adopted sons-Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There were four sons of God in the fire. One is the eternal member of the Trinity. The other three were adopted sons thru their faith in God and what He would accomplish for us all on the cross and thru His resurrection.

It’s resting in God that we truly experience… Purpose. Contentment. Joy. Peace. Freedom. It’s not about our circumstances. Never has been or ever will be. We begin to worship the gifts instead of the Giver of those gifts. When we do, we need to repent and turn back to our Heavenly Father. When you listen to Sails by Pat Barrett (available for $1.29 on Amazon), rest in the freedom He purchased for us on the cross. And remember, He is enough.

Falling is easy

Staying in love is hard

Hard to be honest

And keep your heart open

To be who we truly are

Without the excuses

Without the facade

There’s no pretending

Here in Your love Oh Lord, set me free

I’m finally seeing You were here all along

Your love wasn’t absent

No, it doesn’t come or go

The image I’ve had Is starting to fail

You’re patient with me

Lifting the veil I let out the sails of my heart

Here I am, here You are

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