Challenge 79: Free to Choose Freedom

“O LORD, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains”–Psalm 116:6

Broken chains

Freedom is beautiful. I was happy to be able to wake up today and decide what I wanted to do. I woke up about two hours after I normally do; rode my bike longer than I normally do; and came home when I decided I wanted to. Waking up and doing what we want doesn’t happen often for many of us. We have to go to work and report to a supervisor. We have to take children to school and various other appointments. We have meetings, weddings, reunions, and a host of other obligations where we simply aren’t free to do what we want. But today is your day of freedom. Maybe you are off work because of the 4th of July holiday, and the children are home from school, and they have no extracurricular activities that you have to drive them to. You may even be invited to a cookout so you don’t have to cook. Today is your day of freedom. Even if you have to work today, today is your day of freedom. You may not have had the choice to not work today, but you are free to choose so many other things. You are free to choose your attitude. You are free to choose your friends. You are free to choose to grow. You are free to choose freedom.

I want to focus on that last line: You are free to choose freedom. We need to know that. Too many of us have been comfortable with our bondages that they feel normal to us. They are a part of our life and we don’t know what we would do without them. We are used to being angry. We are used to unfaithful friends. We are used to bad lovers. We are used to the yelling, the screaming, the hitting, the threatening, the rage. We are used to abuse. Any time you are bound to something that is oppressing your body, soul or spirit, you are enslaved. You are enslaved when these forces are causing you to sin or when sin is perpetually acted upon you and you allow it. This is the yoke of slavery. Today, you are free to choose freedom. You do not have to remain in unloved and unwanted situations that bring harm to your body, soul and spirit. You do not have to remain connected to attitudes based on old memories and people who mean you no good. Today is your day of freedom.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, freedom is our new birth right. Jesus said of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. . .” (Luke 4:18). Jesus came to die to take away our sins. He came so the poor wouldn’t be disconnected from the gospel; to heal the brokenhearted; to share deliverance to the captives; so the blind would see, and so those broken by calamity would be set free. He came so that all who believe in Him would be free and would remain free. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 HCSB). We have this power by His Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39; Philippians 2:13).

Therefore, choose your freedom. Connect with those who will help you out of your bondages. Talk to a real friend. Make an appointment with a counselor. Move. Choose joy! Just do it one act at a time. It’s likely you have been in the land of bondage for quite some time so it’s likely that it will take some time to be set free. The first step is for you to decide that you want to be free, to choose the freedom that Jesus Christ died for you to have. This is your choice. You may not celebrate the 4th of July as it was intended to be celebrated: to acknowledge those early British settlers who fought to be free of British rule on American soil. But let their fight spark a fight in you to be free. Today is your day of freedom. You are free to choose freedom. Make that choice today.


Challenge 19: Sacrifice Your Life

Abolitionist William Still

Abolitionist William Still

    There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

This month, like many of us, I have had a more concentrated focus on black history. I’ve told my boys stories, read them books, and we’ve watched documentaries and other special broadcasts. The theme that is constant in each is sacrifice. In the negative way, white people and others complicit with them sacrificed the lives of African Americans so the culprits could viciously and selfishly gain materially, financially and socially. Blacks died in the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage, slavery and Jim Crow and have experienced and continue to struggle through redlining, the very real though often unwritten practice of discrimination against blacks.

In the positive way, many, many people—blacks, whites and others—sacrificed their lives for the health, social and financial welfare and dignity of black Americans. Enslaved black mothers and fathers took punishment and went hungry and cold so their children could have a semblance of a better life than they had. People like William Still, a free black man who was a conductor of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, gave up their comfortable lives so others could be free. They wrote; they spoke; they legislated; they rallied; they marched; they sacrificed whatever was necessary, their very lives even, to fight injustices, inhumanity, so others could be free.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!—Philippians 3:3-8

So we, like Jesus Christ and our ancestors, must sacrifice our lives so others can be free. We must work for people’s physical, financial, social, political and spiritual freedom. No one should be idle but should work in the way God leads them to lead others to freedom.

Take a Risk Challenge: Who will you risk your life for this week? I’m not necessarily saying take a bullet for someone, but we can all sacrifice our lives, the way we do things, what we are comfortable with, to show our love for others. Perhaps we will arise an hour earlier so we can give a ride to someone who doesn’t have a car and normally catches the bus in this cold weather. Maybe we can skip going out to lunch and give the money we would have spent to someone in financial need. Or maybe we could stop buying things we just don’t need and buy something that we know someone else could use. There is much we can do if we decide to sacrifice our lives for others. I mentioned some above. Below are some other ways. Of course you could come up with your own and please share in the comments section the ways you have or plan to sacrifice your life to perform a radical act of love.

  • Start a petition drive.
  • Organize a march.
  • Write letters.
  • Boycott businesses.
  • Post demands on social media.
  • Make your home a safe haven.

My One Thousand Gifts List

My husband initiating prayer this evening when he was dog tired
Joshua saying, “This house is so much fun” after I joked with him in a playful manner
Shakara, a young woman who accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, not wanting to let me go from our hug because she was so happy and felt “so much better”
For clothes that don’t wear out
Water that flows from faucets
Being safe after a plastic bowl melted in the oven
Being firm, not harsh, with Nate though he challenged me all day and didn’t take a nap
Talking with a representative at Logos about the company possibly publishing my book
Nichole Christian for being such a great friend
Nate sleeping through the night