For the first time in my life tonight, I didn’t think about church ending. My mind is usually consumed with this during church – for a few reasons. I’m tired. I’m down at the coffee bar. There’s something due the next day I haven’t even started yet. I’m nodding off because I’m so tired. But tonight – tonight was different. I wasn’t thinking about when prayer was going to end, when the song was going to end, when the sermon was going to end, when church was finally going to come to an end. In fact, I think I would have been OK had it never ended tonight.
I feel like these kinds of spiritual moments come few and far between for me, those moments that fell like eternity has already arrived. All striving and affliction has finally ceased. The only things that mattered were already there, surrounding me, inundating, filling me to the brim. Like it was just me and God.
There were still other people around me. I saw them. I heard them. I was still extremely aware of all the physical things gave formed my environment. But I was so unaffected by all of it. I was only being affected by God.
I think I may have stumbled upon freedom.
My friend just posted these words from Brennan Manning on facebook not too long ago: “Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself.” I think I might have experienced this freedom tonight.
It’s incredible the things that can trap. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re trapped, don’t even feel trapped by the very things that hold us back from complete presence or complete experience. Things like time. “What time is it?” Money. “How much is it?” People. “Where is she?” “What is he doing?” Clothes. “I don’t know what to wear!” These things and questions we end up asking ourselves throughout the day can actually trap us into a life that heavily relies on physical and material needs.
But anyone who has a soul knows that life is more than that. We can’t let these things trap us. Most of the time, they don’t even matter. We’re only creating worry and generating unnecessary problems for ourselves when we depend on the material things of life to drive us forward.
People sometimes describe freedom as being like a bird, flying high in the sky, flying above everything, flying higher and higher, swooping down only to soar back up. It’s interesting, then, that Jesus also referred to the birds when he told his disciples in Matthew 6:26-27, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Freedom. To be unaffected by everything and everyone but God. It almost seems humanly impossible. But to get to this place, one must fight. To get to this place one must be human, because we are the ones who are trapped. And God wants to set us free.