We go about in the free world claiming our freedoms and how wonderful they are. As a pastor, I have seen who have claimed this freedom and the joy that comes with understanding what it means to be free in Christ. But I also know that there are many who are in prison, not necessarily in a brick and mortar prisons. They are in prisons of their own making, whether it be from addictions or other things in life that have closed them in. There are a lot of us that carry around a lot of excess baggage that we need to get rid of to truly enjoy that freedom. I know that some of those prisons have been made worse by the present pandemic. Are we willing to let go of the excess baggage? Have we given up that excess to the Lord? I pray that as we have been somewhat quarantined during the past few months that we have had time to reflect on our relationship with the Lord. I know that many of us say we are going to give that to the Lord, and we grab them back again, because we do not truly trust the Lord in helping us. Oh, what freedoms we miss when we do not let go and let God.

I am grateful for the freedoms that we have in Jesus Christ, but I/we are not a finished product. We read in the scriptures that we are being made perfect in Christ, emphasis, being. Being made perfect means that we are working it out. I must ask myself and others also ask me, “How is it with your soul?” That little statement which has been part of my Methodist heritage since the 1700s is one that is good to keep in our bag of resources to live out each day. Looking at the state of our own soul is a way of seeing and saying where we have found freedom in Jesus Christ. It is also a way to see where we need to change. It also acts to help us see where I might need to off load more baggage so I may truly find the joy of the Lord in my life each day. In looking through our baggage it can also be beneficial as a Christian as a tool for faith sharing, as we can share what the Lord has done to help us grow in His grace.

Kay Kotan is a United Methodist Church consultant and life coach. She in a workshop with pastors shared with us that it is a good think to look at our baggage and to start unpacking those bags. How does that unpacking of our baggage become a way to freedom to others? How has your faith helped you deal with life? How might your faith story help others in their lives? How can your life be a gift to others and how can their lives be gift to help you grow deeper in your walk with the Lord?

Sunday was Flag Day, and, in a few weeks, we will celebrate Independence Day, we have been thinking a lot about freedoms. Have we reflected on our spiritual freedoms as well? May we seek where the Lord continues to free us from that which does not allow us to truly enjoy His freedoms.

Seek also in the days ahead of how we can share our faith with others and help them find that joy and freedom that we have because of Jesus Christ.

George Odell is pastor at Clinton First United Methodist Church.

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