My husband proposed to me on Freedom Day in 2004, ten years into democracy. Emptied his bank account to buy me an all-or-nothing ring. Got down on one knee under a tree where he’d laid out strawberries, camembert and his heart. And I said yes to the forever-freedom of marriage.
Freedom in South Africa turns 21 this year – traditionally, the year of front-door-keys and being a real own-two-feet grownup. It’s the year you’re finally free.
And yet foreigners in South Africa haven’t felt free, but afraid. And the rest of us who love the land and want to see it thriving free – we’re a little freaked out too.
I blogged some weeks back about how to know if you should emigrate and I said that I’m all about the freedom so I’m going back to what Jesus said – that the truth would set us free. Because freedom born of truth slays our fear. Freedom born of truth – soul freedom from fear for the foreigner or the flag-waver – is found in saying yes to becoming the bride of Christ whose lobola was his own blood. Freedom is being bound to him for eternity in the perfect love that casts out fear because there’s forever-freedom in that marriage too. You are free, because you cost a lot. That’s the gospel. (Share that?)
Oppression is never God’s freedom answer. He told his people – ‘You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.’ (Exodus 20:21)
Fright and fight, flee or freeze, those aren’t God’s freedom answers either. To his people – exiled and captive in Babylon – he said, ‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.’ (Jeremiah 29:4-7) He had plans to rescue them and we love those words a few verses on because there’s deep relief in knowing that he knows the plans he has for us, plans for a future and a hope. But until God moves you – Home Forever or another home-for-now – plant your gardens. Eat. Fall in love and make babies. Pray for your city and live your glory story well. God’s people in Babylon were the very best kind of free, even though by definition they weren’t free at all.
A friend of mine often says how he’s heard from reliable sources that Christ is returning in two weeks’ time. He quips that he doesn’t know when those two weeks are starting, but in two weeks for sure… That frees me. It reminds me that I can empty myself for an all-or-nothing cause that’s bigger than apathy, entitlement, self-sufficiency and desperate need – and so much bigger than me. I can hear again God’s forever-freedom call on my life – and say yes.
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