Freedom, Worth More than Gold

A Post from Keith Anderson.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption

Life is made up of a series of continual crossroads.  Sometimes these crossroads are life altering, but more often than not, they are simple choices we have to make.  Even these seemingly minor decisions influence not only our lives, but the lives of those around us.  And so the main question becomes, for our sake and the sake of others, do we choose evil or good?  Do we continue living in our sins, our pasts, our earthly ways; or do we embrace freedom, taking a hammer to our walls and, in the words of Matthew West, “just let ‘em fall.”  

During my 31-day Olympic experience as the Video Coordinator for the USA Women’s Basketball National Team, I had the honor of meeting some of the most influential people in our country, including President Barack Obama and his wife Michele; Vice President Joe Biden; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.  I met gold medalist Olympians of the past, present, and future. 

But none of these had a greater impact on me than two American missionaries in Turkey, an Australian woman in London, and for the first time on a deeply intimate level, the God of the Universe. The God who has sparked a reformation in my life that I never really thought I needed.  The God who has been trying to free me and break through my walls, but who needed me to deal with some tough issues and addictions before handing me a hammer. The God who is showing me more and more that it is the results of the everyday, simple, minor choices that allow me to be free. 

At lunch one day while we were in Turkey, I asked one of the players what she was doing after lunch. Not knowing I was a Christian, she chose the “good” path, the one that’s not always easy, when she said: “Having team Chapel; you’re more than welcome to join us.”  The subsequent string of people and events that God blessed me with could fill a book (maybe one day it will).  

I’m grateful I chose to take my lunch with me and join them. 

When the missionary who was leading Chapel announced the day’s topic, I almost spit out my food.  It was the very issue Tracy and I had been dealing with before I left (see my previous entry). To drive the point even further, God followed the study up with my favorite verse, Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.  I later learned that the missionary had prayed fervently for God’s discernment when she was trying to choose a topic. 

I’m grateful she chose to listen to God, so that I could pick up the hammer. 

While I’m sure the rest of the group got a lot out of the study, I knew that God was talking straight to me.  Later in the trip, the missionary’s husband was in London, and he came to counsel Tracy and I, providing us with practical steps toward renewing our marriage. He was exactly what we needed at that moment, and was the direct result of our and other people’s choices.  

I’m grateful I chose to talk and pray with the missionary one-on-one after Chapel, and that Tracy chose to trust God and be vulnerable enough to be counseled by a complete stranger. Freedom can’t be found without vulnerability. 

On our last day in London, Tracy and I chose to invite others with us to church, including a player who chose to reschedule her flight so she could experience Hillsong, London.  She wanted her gold medal to be in a place where it was being honored properly.  She invited a few of her friends, and had Tracy and I not been following the group down the aisle, we would have never pushed our way to a row as close to the front as possible (which was still about 30 rows back).  That week’s service ended up being solely worship music. Hillsong on a normal day is intense, but Hillsong on worship day is an experience unlike any other.

The experience though, wasn’t about the music, the lights, or the thousands of people. It was about the God of the Universe speaking directly to us in supernatural ways. The most poignant was when an Australian woman named Corinne, who was sitting behind us, put her hand on Tracy’s shoulder and began speaking in tongues. After the service, she asked if she should talk to us. Without us saying a word, she began giving us insight and revelation about every issue we were facing in our marriage. She spoke with power and conviction about where we’ve been and where we need to go.  Her main message to us? Let it go. Knock down your walls, stop dragging the burdens of the past behind you, and allow yourselves to be free.  

I’m grateful we chose to invite friends, that they chose the seats God needed us to sit in, and that Corrine chose to give up control to the Holy Spirit so that we could experience God’s freedom.

It’s easy to take freedom for granted.  It’s easy to push God out of our minds when we chose sin over Him, and then to later ask for forgiveness.  There’s a common misconception that living a Christian life is easy.  But for those of us who try desperately and consistently to choose good over evil, we know there’s nothing easy about living this way.  But every choice is a new opportunity to allow God to direct our steps. Every crossroad moves us either closer to or farther away from the freedom that God desires for us. 

Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”

 

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