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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The discipline of freedom.

…and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17)

“As I sit here in the window of this cottage, I can see a sailboat skimming silently along the horizon. It is a beautiful image of freedom. But the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautifully is the result of of obedience to laws.The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel to mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing. A ship tacking against the wind moves deviously, but when she runs with a strong tide or a following wind she takes to herself the power of tide and wind and they become her own. She is doing the thing she was made for. She is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them

Modern highways are often called freeways, but how much freedom of movement would there be if each driver were encouraged to choose any lane, any speed, any direction that happened to appeal to his fancy at the moment?

I noticed on Boston Common a sign saying “Please,” which the public was expected to understand was short for “Please keep off the grass.” Almost everybody had obeyed that sign and that’s why there was still some grass. But there were a few people sitting on the grass in defiance of the sign. Their freedom to sit on the grass instead of on bare dirt was dependant on the majority’s having denied themselves the privilege. The majority had made a choice to allow grass to grow. Their choice meant restriction, a willingness to limit themselves to the walks. It meant not doing what they wanted to do in order to have something they wanted more. The freedom of the few was bought at the sacrifice of many.

This is the crux of the question of liberty and liberation. Does it mean casting off all restrictions? (Could a ship sail without them?) Does it mean doing what we feel like doing and not doing what we don’t?

It means discipline. It means doing the things we were meant for. What is it to which we are called, we women under God?”

- Elisabeth Elliot, ‘Let me be a woman’.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the laws of the Lord.

Blessed are they who keep His statutes,
who seek Him with all their heart.

They do nothing wrong;
they walk in His ways.

You have laid down percepts
that are to be fully obeyed.

Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying Your decrees!

Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all Your commands.

I will praise You with an upright heart
as I learn Your righteous laws.

I will obey Your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.

(Psalm 119:1-8)

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