You are Truly Free

Ministry Update (published on February 12, 2021)

Greetings, my brothers and sisters,

 

We pray that you are well in these most unusual times!  We truly appreciate your ongoing interest in our family as we walk out this adventure we launched just over twenty years ago at this point.  Boy does that sound old, even though none of us feel old! And while these can be challenging times, they are also exciting ones as we learn to lean in to the Lord even more and pursue all that He is doing in our lives and in the world around us.

 

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

(John 8:36)

Some Things Haven’t Changed

And so even while I mention that these are very unusual times… they may have challenged and changed how we approach life, but not the fact that we each still have a calling to live out our faith and to live it out in bold, loving ways. We may have to deal with new rules in terms of how we gather, but nothing should stop us from wanting and literally needing to share our faith even as we serve people.

 

These times have created even more questions for people, but also more opportunities for 1-on-1 connection with them. Many of the questions are the same as they have always been. Do I matter? Am I seen? Do my friends care about me? Does God? What am I supposed to do with my life? Or comment about anything positive a year ago followed by … but Covid. The questions swirl for some people greater than ever, but the truth of the Good News is as great as it has ever been! You can be truly free!!

 

You are Truly Free

Free?  Really? Yes, really. Jesus said that when He sets us free, we are truly free. Free? Truly free? Boy, that seems to fly in the face of the stereotype for many people that Christianity is simply one rule after another. You’re not wrong; that is the perception. And it surfaces in so many coaching sessions for me as people wrestle with what they should do in various situations.

 

So what does it mean to be free? Let me be clear – on one level, it means you are free to make a bad decision. Do I want you to make one? Does God? No, neither of us does, but you are absolutely free to do so. One of our boys wasn’t sure about taking upper end math courses already in 7th grade. I did require that he take the placement test, but I also told him the result was in his control.  He could totally tank the test to affect the outcome. He had my permission to be free to make a choice in that situation.

So How Free is Free?

Then why require him to take the test if even at the time I made clear to him that he had an out? Why not just let him skip the test? Because he would never have seen his own potential. He wouldn’t have realized all that he was capable of doing. But by giving him a choice and letting him test the waters, he could realize his potential and hopefully also see that I love and support him (despite requiring him to take a test). And more importantly, that he realized my love and support was not dependent on the test outcome. Yes, I wanted him to succeed and do well, but I couldn’t do it for him. I could merely nudge and direct, but he was the one to achieve it.

 

Don’t misunderstand me.  There are consequences and outcomes with many or even all of our decisions.  I think that’s the reason that the church is often perceived as having so many rules. It does have rules, which can be rooted in control, but I think it’s often to keep people from getting hurt.  We want to protect them, like many parents do with children. The truth is that God wants to see us soar, and we should want that also. God desires us to walk in His righteousness, but He also wants us to choose it.

 

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. (Galatians 5:1,5)

 

So I Don’t Know

So I don’t know if I should take that test. So I don’t know if I should date that person. So I don’t know if I should quit my job. So I don’t know if I should… (fill in your own blank). So many1-on-1 coaching sessions start with a comment like that. The bummer is I don’t know either. I’m not the one to answer those questions for you, but Holy Spirit will. He’s happy to partner with you in those “I don’t know” moments. And he does it from a place of freedom. He does it from a place of love and care.

 

Do you have to listen to Him? Nope. You don’t. You really don’t.  You are truly free. But too often we take our freedom and lock ourselves up in a different slavery.  That’s totally not God’s heart. So as you feel His nudging, you can go a different direction, but I’ve found that His way is the best. One time a student asked me whether to pursue a sport or not. I suggested they pray to seek an answer.  They did and the answer was yes, but they still didn’t feel like they wanted to pursue it.  I shared that they didn’t have to do it, but beyond that, I really was out of advice at that point.  They wound up doing it and have loved every moment since, despite their early reluctance.

 

God Wants You to Soar

It has been cool to see that person soar from trusting Him. God knew that would be the case. And I know even if they had chosen not to play, God would not walk away from them nor does He walk away from any of us. He continues to partner with us as we walk out this life He has given us.  As we often test our legs out in new directions and new paths, God is there helping to direct while still enjoying the freedom He has granted us. So embrace the journey!

 

Walking in His Freedom,

Paul, Barb, Andrew, Kammi, Josiah, and Daniel Malinich