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Wednesday-Slow Down


You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.


Galatians 5:13


Remember a time when you just couldn’t slow down? You couldn’t stop?


As I was slowly driving home one snowy night, I saw someone coming from the other direction. But they were driving way too fast. We both tried to slow down, but couldn’t We wound up in a fender bender. We couldn’t slow down. We couldn’t stop.


We have a friend who started drinking to self-medicate his loneliness and hurt. Using his frequent trips away from home to drink, he sank into deeper and deeper dependence on alcohol to numb himself. He couldn’t slow down. He couldn’t stop.


I was abused by another boy in the neighborhood. This started me down a moral hole that I couldn’t get myself out of. The walls were too smooth and slippery. There was nothing I could hold onto. There was nothing I could grab to break my fall. I couldn’t slow down. I couldn’t stop.


We all need something to slow us down. We all need something to stop us. That’s what laws do. They show us the boundaries. They tell us that there is freedom within the laws, but there is pain and punishment when we break the law.


God’s laws tell us about how he made the world. Through them, he outlines how to have freedom within his laws. They also clearly tell us that there are boundaries that are not to be approached or crossed. And when we break one of his laws, there is his righteous justice and punishment.


I really don’t get why people get all bent out of shape about God’s laws. We have laws all around us. They outline the right things to do. The way things work. When we follow them, life moves along smoothly. And when we choose to break one of these laws, life gets difficult at best.


Just the other day, I needed to work on perhaps the most frightening piece of technology known to mankind – a chainsaw. The instruction manual told me how much oil to put in the gasoline. It also told me the model of the chain it used.


Now, I certainly have the freedom to not put oil in the gas. Or to install any chain. Yes, I have that freedom, but at what cost? Yes, the engine will start without oil in the gas, but the engine will quickly burn up. The wrong chain could fly off, hurting anyone nearby.


God gave his laws after we ignored his rules, left him, and went out on our own. We thought that ignoring God’s laws would give us true freedom. But his laws were the only thing standing between us and total self-destruction.


Paul’s telling the Galatians that the only true freedom in this life doesn’t come from the outside, from rules that try and control us, block us in. No, true freedom can only come from within, when we personally choose what to do. What to say. Where to go.


Freedom and liberty in Jesus doesn’t give us a pass, letting us do whatever we want. No, it empowers us to choose to love and obey the God who made us. The God who loves us. The God who saved us.


There really is no power in a set of rules and laws. They try to control us, blocking us from doing what’s wrong. They have no power to ignite goodness in us. They are powerless to change us.


When we come to Christ, when we invite him in to be our Lord and Savior, his Holy Spirit comes in and lives inside of us. He breaks the chains that have been holding us prisoner for so long. He also gives us power to choose to live for him.


God’s solution to our sin problem is so much better than trying to write more and better rules. He knows that there’s no power in an external law to change us on the inside. That’s what the old hymn says in words that are just oh so much better than anything I could come up with.


He breaks the power of canceled sin,

He sets the prisoner free;

His blood can make the foulest clean;

His blood availed for me.[1]


We’re never able to slow down when it comes to our own selfish desires. We’re not able to stop ourselves from turning from God and toward ourselves. We’re always going to think that we’ve got the answer. That we can stop ourselves before it’s too late.


But that’s us just trying to fool ourselves. And some of us are masters at it because we’ve been fooling ourselves for so long. Some of us have lost touch with God’s loving reality. We’ve walked away from him.


But he hasn’t moved an inch. He’s right there, waiting for you to turn around. To take his hand and to receive his forgiveness in Jesus.


Will we slow down our lives enough to reach out to him?

[1] O For a Thousand Tongues, Charles Wesley, 1739


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