From Russia With Love

Met a dude today.

I was attending an event where they served us all lunch and by providence I was seated across from this guy. A conversation was struck up and he began to tell an interesting story about how he had adopted a Russian child. When he went to pick up his child it was during the tumultuous time of the fall of the Soviet Union. He described a conversation he had with one of the Russians he was working with where he asked the guy whether or not what was happening in his country was a good thing or not. The guy’s response “It is good and bad.” He then went on to clarify by saying ” It is good that we are now free to make our own decisions about our lives and do as we please…but it is bad because we have lived that way for so long, we don’t know how to do it”. Interesting response.

Reminds me of Brooks Hatlen. Brooks was the prison librarian in the movie “Shawshank Redemption” (one of my personal faves). Old Brooks had become so institutionalized and had been in prison for so long that he didn’t know any other way of life. When he was finally released he didn’t know what to do with himself, was filled with despair and eventually hung himself. (Oh…spoiler alert).

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Morgan Freeman’s character in the movie was in a similar position and he feared the same would happen to him if ever released. (Another spoiler alert) He was eventually released in the movie but it was different for him as he had made a friend (relationship),started a new adventure (purpose) and embraced his new identity.

I think we can identify with this phenomenon. At least I can. We are often enslaved by people, circumstances or our environment. Sometimes we are enslaved to something because we chose to be. Sometimes it’s physical. But most often it’s spiritual.

You may not agree. But the bible says our spiritual enslavement comes from our brokenness due to sin. Being jacked up is our default position. It’s our normal.
I believe this is true because of my own experience.

The thing is, the bible also says;
“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 ESV)

So God’s plan through Christ is to set us free. To set us free from sin and it’s consequences. To give us a new normal.

It sounds great and I believe it, but I’ll admit it’s often a struggle to see it actualized in my own life. So many times I feel like Brooks and I don’t know how to live that way and I want to sink back into my old patterns of living which is truly no life at all.

Thankfully, Jesus said I would be “free indeed” and that I can rest assured in the hope of certain victory. I can say with Paul that my life is “hidden with Christ”. Though I may struggle in learning to walk in my new normal God has given me an authentic relationship with himself, which gives me a new purpose for living my life for something outside of and greater than myself. He has given me a new identity and daily he reminds me thatI am not defined by people, circumstances, environment or even my own sin. But I am defined by the value He places on my life.

I find great encouragement and comfort in knowing this… I hope you can as well.

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