Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A FREE LIFE

"Does it have to end? Can't we stay a little longer?" He squeezes my hand in reply. It's the most we've spoken in the past hour. Nestled contentedly in our chairs on the weathered deck, we sit immersed in the symphony of nature, no city noise to distract us. A week away at our favorite Central Coast hideaway, we are completely removed from the hustle and bustle. It's been a glorious week to slow down, unwind, breathe deeply, and reflect on what's most important to us. Right now, in this season of life, with all of the changes looming on the horizon, it's time to pause and re-evaluate.

It's our last full day here in our private paradise tucked away in "the middle of nowhere". At least, that's how this place feels to us. The endless green hillsides blanketed by the blue skies have provided the perfect retreat.

Our epiphany is simultaneous as we soak in the last of the healing sunshine. Both of us ache for more freedom, a slower pace, and less of the "stuff" of this world.

This morning, as we drank our coffee and watched the day begin to unfold, two birds flew through the open door and into the house. Frantic to escape their unexpected confinement, they fluttered about, pressing anxiously against the windowpanes. Grabbing a broom, my husband gently nudged them, trying to steer them back toward their only true path to freedom. Though they could see where they were supposed to be, they couldn't navigate themselves successfully.

As I sit here in the stillness, I realize we are just like those birds. We see the freedom we're being called to, but don't know what path to take. Just like the little birds, we move about busily, trying to find our own way. An open door looks appealing, and we take it, only to find it's leading in the wrong direction. And we hit a glass wall of confinement.

The stuff, the pace, the over-obligations we'll be returning to tomorrow, they don't fit us anymore. All week long, we've been inundated with messages about giving ourselves away. And I see now, the freedom we're longing for, is really a path to do just that. It's not a "pass" to indulge ourselves or pursue our own concept of personal happiness. That mindset won't satisfy what we are longing for. I know from experience.

What once held such importance to us doesn't have the same meaning in this new phase of life. To empty ourselves of the old, so He can fill us with new meaning and purpose, this is the essence of the freedom we crave.

We don't have to scurry frantically, trying to find our own way. The One who calls us is Faithful, and He will guide our steps.

"In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]."
~Galatians 5:1, Amplified Bible

"It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom." 
~From Galatians 5, The Message

"The freedom after sanctification is the freedom of a child; the things that used to keep the life pinned down are gone."
~Oswald Chambers
     

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NO GREATER RIDE

From where I sit, he's just a speck in the water. The vast ocean surrounds him, the white caps pushing him back while he paddles all the harder.

I can imagine the intent in his eyes as he presses into the waves, moving farther from the shore line. He finds his sweet spot and waits, sitting patiently, watching for the one that will make it all worth it.

And I sit, protected from the howling winds, in the cozy warmth of our truck. Watching. Cheering him on. Tasting the salty thrill he must be feeling.

In no time, he catches a wave. Then another. And another. The passion for surfing he's carried inside of him since he was a young boy, it remains. And today, it comes alive again. The broad grin on his face, the exhiliration in his voice, and his boyish laughter...they're back.

This man who gives up his life each day to feed and to clothe, to house and to protect, he's my hero. My dearest friend.

In the early morning sunlight, every flaw, every wrinkle, every extra pound revealed itself. And we marveled at how we don't see it, don't even care. Like a home that grows only more beautiful over the years, with stories to tell and chock full of life, that's what we see. He's my home, my resting place. And I am his, while we walk this journey together.

He caught another wave. I don't have to see his expression up close to know the joy he's experiencing. I feel it too. Just watching.

There are a million reasons to grow tired, frustrated, annoyed, and upset with your spouse. But to be able to look past all that, and just love and enjoy the person you've been sharing your life with for decades? There's no greater ride.

Board tucked under his arm, he walks along the sand towards our truck. "Good job, honey. You looked great!" This day, it's a treasure. And I marvel that he still makes my heart leap, after all these years.

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years."
~Simone Signoret

"Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have...Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end."
~From 1 Corinthians 13, The Message