This past year, my family went to a concert at the Houston Rodeo.
The concert was awesome. The singer was both crazy talented and fully clothed, which it seems they are usually either one or the other, so praise God for that. The kids loved it. The husband and I loved it.
But at one point, right before her last song, she paused to share a message with the crowd.
She said this: “You do you. Do what you want to do, be who you want to be, go where you want to go. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks and just do what makes YOU happy.”
And oh man, the crowd went wild. Standing ovation. Everyone loved it. I mean, it sounds good, doesn’t it?
Just do what makes you happy.
Stop worrying about everyone else.
Follow your own heart.
YOU DO YOU.
It sounds like FREEDOM.
What she says is great, in theory.
But here’s the problem.
What we THINK will make us happy . . . is almost never what will actually make us happy.
What the world tells us is the key to happiness . . . is opposite of what Scripture tells us. Our flesh, our human desires, the wants that bubble up inside of us, are unreliable when it comes to pursuing our own happiness. We are unreliable.
The world says . . . MORE. More stuff, more square feet, more popularity, more likes, more Botox, more followers. THAT will make us happy.
But Scripture tells us . . . LESS. Less of me, more of Him. It tells us there’s only ONE THING that will truly fill us. It tells us being HOLY is more important than me being HAPPY.
In fact, there are lots of things I’d like to do that Scripture tells me NOT to do, which HARDLY sounds like freedom. That sounds a lot more like bondage.
That sounds like . . . God is keeping me from something better.
So, let me tell you about 16-year-old me.
I was a peach.
Following Jesus in high school felt like the worst. My parents loved Jesus, a lot. Which really put a damper on my social life. There were a lot of rules and a guilty conscience that I hated.
I believed sin was just something I had to abstain from, and that if I abstained enough then SOMEDAY I’d be rewarded for it. SOMEDAY I would make it to this “better place” I was always told about.
But Earth? That just felt like a waiting room, like a boring holding zone. I genuinely believed the lie, “God is keeping me from something better.” Following Christ is keeping me from having any fun.
Flash forward to 2012.
Death after death after death of my grandparents. My first child was born prematurely just over three pounds. And the sins of this world were TEARING MY MARRIAGE APART, piece by piece, heartbreak by heartbreak, until I was sure we’d never recover.
I remember at one point, lying on the floor of our one-bedroom shack, with a four-month-old barely over seven pounds, in the fetal position, sobbing. I remember crying out for God to GIVE ME ANSWERS, HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED TO ME? God, just tell me what to do.
You see, that sin I had craved for so long? That stuff I thought God was keeping me from? I finally saw what happened when those “fun” sins manifested themselves into “slavery” sins.
I finally realized that GOD’S NOT TRYING TO KEEP ME FROM SOMETHING BETTER. He’s trying to SAVE me from something bad, from something EVIL.
Those “rules” are to PROTECT me. Not to hinder me.
That year, as I crawled through the thick muck of sin on my hands and knees, I looked to my left and to my right and you know who I saw? I saw those same people I envied, the ones I thought were REALLY living, and I saw firsthand what happens when we believe the lie that HAPPINESS is just on the other side of God’s safe walls that he’s built around us.
God’s promise to rescue us isn’t just a promise to rescue us from eternity in Hell SOMEDAY. His promise is to rescue us from a life of Hell ON EARTH. TODAY.
This story of a GOOD GOD really is Good News. And not just Good News for your eternity. JESUS is Good News for you RIGHT NOW, in this instant. In this life.
He’s saying, “Please. This is the best way. This is how you live a life of peace and comfort and hope. Live THIS way so I can spare you from a life of pain and hopelessness.”
And here’s the best part.
God’s promise to you is that your sin is NO MATCH for the freedom found in the cross.
Let me repeat that. Your sin is NO MATCH for the freedom found in Christ.
He is the ultimate Healer, the perfect Redeemer, there is power in his name, and He. Will. Break. Your. Chains.
That addiction that’s got you in chains? He can break it.
That anxiety that feels like a 100 pound weight on your chest? He’ll break that.
That obsession with your phone that you keep making excuses for? He’ll break that, too.
That constant pressure you’ve put on yourself to be perfect? His Spirit is already working to break that chain as you read these words.
That marriage that has no hope? He restored my marriage and he can restore yours, too.
It doesn’t mean you won’t have to work. Because sin is easy to get into but it takes work to get out of.
But it does mean you’ll have to surrender. Because you can’t do this alone.
You want to be truly happy? Get to know God as Savior. Read his Word. Listen to what He says. His love and His word will never change, unlike the whims and desires of our human hearts.
Believe that He is good. HE IS SO GOOD. And He loves you more than you can possibly know.
And the freedom found in THAT, is true freedom.
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