As I sat up in the platform of the bow window, working on some sermon prep at this 'beatnik' cafe hostel, the Backpacker, where you will find me most afternoons, a young lady sat down beside me. She was a starving artist working with a renovating company for a couple of months so she could move into a new apartment with her boyfriend. Par usual the conversation got around to "What do you do for work?" My initial thought is always, 'pause.....', not because I am ashamed of being a church planter/lead pastor. I absolutely know this is what I am geared for and wake up 6 out a seven days a week thrilled to do what I get to do (the other day is Monday); No the pause, is cause when I say, "Pastor/ Church planter" it more often shuts conversation down rather then opens it up. She looks at me strangely, asks a couple of questions about, "What that is like, starting like a whole new church?" Then she asks, "Why?" Carefully my reply is always, "Why ? Do you think we have enough churches?" "Well, I'm not into religion. I think it is just a way to manipulate people. People should have the freedom to make their own decisions, and live their lives anyway they want to, I'm free to find my own morals and beliefs."
Funny thing about Freedom- it is so constraining.
Truth is Inevitable:
If you read this passage it sounds like the Wise Seer is telling us this is not merely a suggestion, but THE way to live out life, intentional precepts, directed instructions- truth. The lady I spoke with at the b-packer spoke as if her way of discovering truth was the best way- even suggested that I leave it alone; she felt it was THE way to live- her version of truth. In fact the way that she came across with her version of truth felt like she was tying to intimate, manipulate or constrain my thoughts on truth. MY POINT: It's inevitable we all live out of what we believe is "true." Even those who say we shouldn't tell others what is right or wrong, aren't they inevitably telling us what they think is right or wrong?! Those who say their are NO ABSOLUTES! Isn't that an absolute statement? The first part of Proverbs 4 tells us that what we believe in our hearts shows in our lives.
The wise Seer points towards a life lived out under an awe-struck respect for God, the Creator Sustainer and tells his children, his pupil, his prodigy- this is discovered, modeled, tested, truth for your journey.
The Constraint of Freedom: Notice how the Seer tells us we can discover, follow and journey day by day in this truth? Vs 10-19 In order for Sidney Crosby to be a great hockey player, and eventually lead his team to the Stanley Cup, he chooses the constraining freedom of discipline. He disciplines himself to go above and beyond with diet, exercise, practice, sleep patterns and on and on. This disciplined life brings a freedom to play at the level only Crosby can play. You see that freedom cannot merely be defined as the absence of restraint. Great freedom comes to those who are willing to discipline, train, follow a course of action so that they my attain a better, or the best possible outcome. Doesn't a great relationship of growing love require this kind of disciplined freedom? And if it truly is a growing love, the freedom of restraint is not a burden but a growing delight? I am committed to dating only my wife, pursuing her, and her me not because we can't exercise 'freedom' but because in the restraint of nurturing a deeper love relationship exclusively with each other, we gain a tremendous freedom of trust and joy in each other. The discipline of protecting, keeping this relationship sacred both in private and public ways is more then worth the reward! This is the constraint of freedom, the same constraint that we are instructed toward here in Proverbs. Want to gain a freedom of spiritual understanding, joy, peace, hope, satisfaction in relationship with God? Keep your heart, grab hold of wisdom, keep her, guard her, constrain your steps, direct your life by this relationship of following after God.
"Guard your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flows the springs of life."
Ahhh the freedom that comes from living out of a heart that has been protected, kept, secured by the fear of God! Fresh flowing, life giving springs.
"It is not what goes into a mans mouth that corrupts his life but what comes out of his heart"- Jesus. "The heart of a man is desperately wicked who can know it?"; "We suppress the truth in our hearts." Without the constraining love of Christ in our lives we have a natural bend to lean in towards sin, wickedness, selfishness and pride. Just as it is important for my wife and I to continually cultivate our relationship with one another- it is of great importance for you and I to cultivate an authentic relationship with our God, through His Son Jesus, by the power of His Spirit.
"The love of Christ constrains me."- Paul the Apostle;
"For whoever would save his life would lose it;
but he who would lose his life for my sake
will find it!" - Freedom explained by Jesus!