“For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
It’s what summer looks like to me.
Stepping out into the slightest hint of coolness in the final minutes of a hot summer’s day, we carry an empty Mason jar with a foil lid folded down over the edges of the glass. The sun drifts down and the light dims so that we can see the fireflies at play.
Last night, I called them “lightning bugs” like we did as kids, and my daughter scrunched up her nose in confusion.
Lightning bugs. Fireflies. It’s the freedom of summer. We stay up past bedtime and run around the yard swinging our arms and cupping our hands trying to catch one. Unfortunately, I think we’ve scared off the fireflies in our particular area. They hear us coming and taunt us by flying just a little too high and just a little too far into the woods.
Still, we manage to catch a few. For those daughters who don’t succeed in the hunt, we gently ease a bug into their hand and they giggle because it tickles, of course. Then we drop the firefly softly into the Mason jar and deftly replace the foil lid so none escape.
On TV, whenever you see a jar of fireflies, it’s lit up, a natural lantern for the evening jaunt.
But I haven’t seen this. Last night as I watched the few captives in our jar, they remained dark. They didn’t expend any energy for light. Instead, their every effort remained focused on escape. Most of them immediately scaled the jar and sat at the top, right up against the foil, just waiting for me to open the lid again so they could fly to freedom.
Usually, we manage to defeat their various tactics and keep them in the jar until the end of the night when one daughter whines because she didn’t catch one and another daughter begs to catch just one more. Then they all ask if we can just keep them overnight or for an hour or just a few minutes.
Pleeeeease? Pretty please?
But I’m sympathetic to the plight of our captives. So, before we trudge inside we lift up the foil lid and let loose the fireflies. They jump into the air and without hesitation light up—probably sending out a warning that predators are on the move.
Whatever their message, freedom helps them shine.
Their freedom comes at little cost to them really. They’ve made attempts at escape, but most have failed. Ultimately, their freedom flight simply requires me to lift the foil beneath my fingers.
Our freedom, however, is costly. Physically, most of us receive the gift of freedom because of the sacrifice of others. I read this week that Thornton Wilder, the famed American playwright and novelist, fought in both WWI and WWII. People like him paid the price for people like us.
In the same way, our spiritual freedom carries a high price tag, one we could never pay. Instead, we are the recipient of freedom because of another’s sacrifice.
Paul tells us:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Freedom is God’s design for us. It has always been His intention and plan and Christ willingly paid the costly price on our behalf.
A girl in my online Bible study group reminded me of this verse: “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38 ESV).
Jesus is a freedom-giver, a defeater of oppression and freer of captives.
But Paul charges us with a task, as well. Christ offered us freedom and now it is our job to “stand firm” and refuse to submit to slavery again.
It seems silly, but we often choose prison over the freedom Christ offers. We sit in the bottom of our Mason jar, unwilling to fly and light up the night. Perhaps we want to do it on our own, scale the glass, escape the lid. Perhaps the night air is too frightening and the jar too comfortable because it’s what we know.
Do you do this?
If anxiety is your jail, do you rebuild the prison walls by wallowing in fear, allowing your mind to travel where it shouldn’t, looking up information that you know will disturb you, inciting emotions and then letting them run wild?
When the rigors of legalism and the chains of people-pleasing threaten to oppress you, do you submit–check the boxes, follow the crowd, follow expectations, try not to rock the boat, don’t do anything crazy or radical?
If shame holds you captive, do you allow Satan to throw your past in your face, to call you names, to cover your eyes so you can’t see the totally loved, totally forgiven person Christ has made you?
God never meant for you to live oppressed.
So, now that He’s offered you freedom . . . live free by living in truth (John 8:32).
Combat lies with the Word.
Feed on a diet of Scripture so that doubts and Satan’s schemes starve.
Be alert to the first sign of shackles and chains as Satan, the world, and even your old habits try to sneak them onto your wrists and feet.
Freedom is Christ’s gift to you, so refuse to accept captivity any longer. He’s called you to shine and to fly and to share the message of sweet, sweet freedom with other prisoners.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.