Liberation of the Soul

Captivity, Christian, Culture,, Island life, Jesus, Liberation, Liberation Day, Liberty
Today is the 71st Liberation Day on Guam. We celebrate the freedom of our island and honor the sacrifices made. Copious amounts of red rice, ribs, and finadene will be consumed. Fireworks will blast all night, and my dogs will go crazy. It will be a loud and lovely day as we remember.  Liberation is beautiful, because captivity is ugly.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” 
(Colossians 1:13-14)

And I think about my soul and every soul, bound, captive before Jesus Christ. The liberation He offers is perfect and beautiful, because our captivity to sin is horrific. But sometimes I forget that He is our only hope. Sometimes I think that people earn their favor with God by being nice and obeying all the rules.

The lie about soul liberation is that we can earn it.

We churched ones can grow up wearing the idea, wearing it like clothing against our chests, that people can attain perfection in and of themselves. Every day we have donned these rags. Others earn our respect based on how well they obey all the rules–or how much it looks like they are, and we earn theirs the same way.

This garment is tight and restricting; we are suffocated, our breath of joy restrained. Too distracted by these binding clothes to understand true love, we are robbed of knowing who Jesus is.

Legalism can be accidental, but it is still deadly.

We believe there is a formula, a checklist, that if followed, will constitute success, respect, forgiveness. The formula becomes our god, the checklist our security blanket.

Bowing to the religion of us, we forget.

“For it is by grace…” Grace, this warrior word that defies our human prejudices and presuppositions. Grace that crashes us to our knees in relief. On our knees has always been our strongest place, because it is the place where His hand extends.

But sometimes I avoid it, because I prefer to make it about me. Grace is always about Jesus.

The joy of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that we needed it. If we could earn our way there, what does the rest even mean?

Does His grace demand our love and, in turn, obedience? Of course. But the fight for the liberation of our souls has already been fought on the cross (Romans 10:9-10, Philippians 3:4-11). And that is a reason to surrender and celebrate!

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

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Limits of Love

Christianity, love, marriage

It is the ultimate trump card. You toss it down with a flick of your wrist and no one dares cross you: ‘love.’ No one can question your actions. If done in the name of ‘love,’ it is good and decent and obligates others to support it. 
‘Love’ is god, we say.
But we have it backwards. God is love; He defines what it looks like, both its possibilities and its limitations. His love is far greater and more magnificent than I can ever understand, let alone write.
Since ‘love’ is our lowercase ‘god,’ we twist its definition into anything we want it to be. 
Love is messy. We know that. From the mama who wipes poopy bottoms, to the woman whose man keeps looking at porn, and the husband who tries but seems to have lost his wife to his children. Love is messy. 
And when Jesus went to the cross? That was messy, too. 
When we define love ourselves and manufacture our own cookie cutters of what it is and what it looks like, we miss out on the grandeur and truth of what God has given us. We tear down boundaries when we do not like them, because we are free, so there. 
If I made up ‘love’ myself, it would always be lacking. It would always be full of my mood swings and how I felt, instead of the everlasting and unmovable intrinsic characteristics of God. And because HE decided what love looks like, I no longer have to grovel in fear of being known, for He knows me, the real me. 
The moments I have most known love are those when I have sat on the porch of our house and cried, broken before my husband over sin in my life or confusion. Getting dressed up and smelling new roses is delightful, but it is only a symbol of love–not the substance. The substance of love is never sentimentality. 
Love is never a soft feeling that justifies sin. Rather, it is forgiveness and the hope that we can be more like Him today than we were yesterday.

Supreme courts do not define love. And neither do I. God does.

Those rose petals, lovely as they are, will fade and fall, and so will my relationship if only based on how good I feel. Love is messy. Who knew how beautiful messy could be, thanks to our Lord–Love in a manger, Love who sent the plagues, Love who told the adulteress to stop her sleeping around, and Love who is our glorious King.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann