O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! – hymn by Samuel Trevor Francis
We had a gathering of new faces here at the old farmhouse Saturday. Vans packed with kids started pulling in at six o’clock and little people unloaded and scattered across the yard faster than the chickens they chased.
The porch of a house always feels like a warm space to me and the way this one wraps around makes me think of a wide smile. We set two picnic tables out in the space of that smile and ate meals in the up-and-down shifts of young parents – standing and sitting, stopping and starting as kids ran out of, refused, or spilled food. Later, when the sun was waning and a chill settled into the air, parents gathered kids from all corners of the house and yard. One girl was found a good thirty feet up in a pine tree, just sitting on a branch refusing to come down.
Kids take to this spacious place like it’s their native home, running wide and far while the grown-ups tend to hover close to the house. Often, leaving my work for a while, I find the twins off in some far corner of the yard, running knee-deep in cut grass or playing a secret game on one of the many wood piles.
Somewhere along the path we call “growing up” many of us forget how to live in – by which I mean not just to own, but to enjoy to its fullest – a good and spacious place. We build walls – or life builds them for us – hemming ourselves in to little plots of work and responsibility. A small plot of life offers the advantage of perceived control and yet something within the very heart of us is lost – a soul that was meant to soar in freedom lives out its days with wings clipped.
This is not what God intends for us. God’s love is “deep and wide” as the children’s song reminds us, “vast, unmeasured, boundless, free” as the hymn declares. This love is the spacious place in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17).
This Memorial Day I’m remembering my Grandfathers who fought in WWII to maintain some measure of freedom – to ensure that their children and grandchildren would live in both physical and intellectual freedom, un-penned-in by tyranny and oppression. As I remember, I wonder how many of us have forgotten how to live in the freedom that was and is won and maintained at such great cost? How many of us have exchanged our freedom for the yoke of some new ideology or economic stability?
Our earthly freedom, of course, is a dim shadow of the freedom we have in Christ – freedom also bought and maintained at a great cost and yet bestowed on us as a free gift. The biblical story, though, is one of a people continually giving up their freedom, handing over the keys to prisons built of law and perceived safety.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” Paul tells the Galatians (5:1).
A good many people will spend this day gathered around picnic tables discussing the state of the world and arguing on behalf of their own dimly perceived solutions – more law, more war, more walls. We are right to be concerned and yet, I want to suggest we look elsewhere for solutions today.
Maybe we could follow the lead of our children and live in freedom for a few minutes or hours. Join them splashing in the water, building moats and dams out of sand, catch a worm, build an imaginary kingdom, run yelling across a wide field or simply lay down in the grass and watch the clouds for a while as though nothing is riding on us.
We have to practice living in freedom to best know how to maintain it.
I will do my best to leave the house today, to set aside the work and venture into the far corners of our yard. Maybe I’ll climb the pine tree, maybe I’ll ride the rope swing and feel my stomach drop or catch a chicken and sit with it for a while soaking in the sun.
May you also find yourself captured by and living in the wonder of the freedom that is yours today. Happy Memorial Day, friends.
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Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.
You’re invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don’t worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right – you’re welcome to come as you are.
While you’re here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.