Final Chapter: “Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose” *
Somewhere up in space a capsule floats in the blackness. The hatch opens and an astronaut takes his first few steps into the void of outer space. He feels secure in his pressure suit, the air tanks strapped on his back, the strength of the lifeline attaching him to his spaceship.
He looks around and sees a million stars, planets spinning in their orbits – including his own Earth. Awesome! Stepping, more like swimming, farther away from his ship he sees the moon, their destination.
He reaches the end of his rope; the lifeline is stretched fairly tight; he turns to go back. Suddenly he sees a few pieces of rock whizzing toward him on their journey through space. One of them, not much bigger than an spear head and just as sharp, strikes the lifeline and slices it cleanly, severing him from the space capsule.
You could say he’s free now. He’s no longer tied to anyone or anything; he can move in any direction he wishes. He’s free to explore the universe, to collect as much as he wants of the bits passing by. And when his air gives out, he’s free to die and drift forever.
The night I cut the line between myself and God, I was as free as that astronaut. Free to go anywhere and do anything and it didn’t matter because there was nothing anywhere. Free to wander through this world without a lifeline; free to live as long as I could, then die and drift in the blackness and the torment of eternity.
For the first time in my life I experienced the full meaning of the word “lost.”
Is the astronaut enjoying his new-found freedom? Not on your life! He’s trying as hard as he can to get back to his spaceship!
He wants to go back to something solid even if it means rules, a law of gravity, regulations of the space program. He may have to rise early every morning and do hours of calisthenics to keep himself in shape. He may have to deny himself certain pleasures in order to keep his position in the program. But he wants back in that capsule because he wants LIFE. He wants a world of beautiful colours; peopled by those he loves. He dreads remaining in this blackness forever.
That’s pretty much how I felt, too, once I realized just what I’d lost, what life would be like without my lifeline to God. I knew I couldn’t make it through the temptations of this world without His guidance and protection; life was meaningless without a hope of heaven someday. So I turned and faced the question Jesus asked years ago:
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
How many pairs of jeans was I willing to trade my soul for?
What a little thing God was asking me to give up in exchange for His Fatherly care –for eternal life– and I wouldn’t do it! Wasn’t that just pretty foolish?
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
I wandered around for awhile, but before long I was back in the bedroom kneeling by the bed. There I promised the Lord that if He wanted me to give up wearing pants I’d go out the next morning and buy myself fabric to sew a dress. (I didn’t even own an everyday dress.) Whatever else He would ask I would gladly do, too, if only He would save me and make me His child again.
The Bible talks about a “peace that passeth all understanding” and that’s what flowed into me at that moment, together with an indescribable joy. I felt so full of praise for God’s mercy, so thankful; I wanted to tell the whole world. The joy of being His child was SO worth giving up all our images, all the stuff of this world!
I didn’t have enough religious smarts to know I’d just experience this New Birth some folks talked about; it took a year or so until a friend put that together for me. But I did know that “I once was blind, but now I see” – and the ways of God made awesome sense.
*From a late 60’s song by Gordon Lightfoot
When I first started this history I thought I’d do it in about three posts. I asked the Lord to guide me in writing my experience and made a start, but as you can see it has rather come to me in much greater detail, bit by bit. I hope that through this series you’ve been able to feel with me in the process I battled through.
Now it has come to an end at a good time: it’s Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. So this last post fits the theme of this day; it’s a perfect time to give thanks to God for the way He brought me to a total surrender and being born again.