This weekend we celebrated July 4th, Independence Day. During this time of celebration, we hear a lot about freedom and liberty, but, what is freedom really? While we enjoy certain freedoms and liberties as American citizens, are we truly free? Do we have peace? Are we joyful? Do we exercise compassion, justice, mercy, generosity? Frequently, the answer is no. While we may exercise gratitude for the civil liberties we possess as a “free” nation, this does not insure spiritual freedom. Spiritual freedom is recognized by a profound and enduring experience of inner contentment, joy and compassion and is lived out through the generous sharing of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts. The invitation to experience this kind of freedom is God’s greatest desire for us and is reflected in this 5000 year old invitation, initially received by the Hebrew people:
The Lord God said, “I have witnessed your affliction my people and have heard your cries of complaint against your oppressors, so I know well what you are suffering. Therefore, I have initiated an extraordinary Divine intervention, to rescue you from your oppressors; leading you out of the land of slavery into a good and gracious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3: 7-8 (paraphrased)
As we apply this invitation to our own lives, we are compelled to reflect on our own inner slavery. What is it that keeps us in bondage? What prevents us from knowing compassion, peace and joy? What are the obstacles to discovering, cultivating and generously sharing my most magnificent self in the world? What prevents me from naming, claiming, nurturing and sharing my gifts? The answer in a word is FEAR. Fear is the inner obstacle that keeps us imprisoned and prevents us from knowing authentic inner freedom.
Fear is the primary operating principle of the ego. The ego is the part of ourselves that has bought into the illusion of separation. Falsely believing ourselves to be separate from our most authentic self, separate from God and separate from one another, we live in a world driven by compulsions and fear…..and there is only ONE antidote to this fear….and that antidote is LOVE. Love in this sense is not the romantic love we see in movies, neither is it the love we have for family, spouse or children. This love is a reuniting with God. This love is not something we can think about or intellectualize, it is something that can only be experienced. Once we experience this Divine state of love, we are changed forever. Experiencing the love that is the Divine gives us a taste of what real freedom feels like. After getting that taste, we cannot stop seeking the Divine so that we can experience more and more of this love. In this state of love we are healed, transformed, catapulted into knowing ourselves, knowing the world and finding compassion and joy.
The good news is that in all likelihood, we have already gotten a tiny taste of that love. As YHWH said to Moses in the reading above, it is God that initiates this process: “I have initiated an extraordinary Divine intervention.” The question is, are we paying attention?
The invitation today is to examine your life and to look for the many ways that the Divine has broken into your everyday experiences to reveal God’s self to you. Where have you had a deep and profound experience of love, contentment or joy? Where are you feeling restless, impatient, constricted? How is the Divine trying to reach out to you and invite you into your truest nature – a life of true spiritual freedom – content, loving, joyful?
Authentic Freedom Ministries