This week in my attempt to make a holiday treat that my kids could help with, I found a recipe for popcorn balls. We had a fun (messy) afternoon making and then eating them. I let Hudson stir the butter and marshmallows while Darla got the popcorn popping. We have a couple rules when helping in the kitchen. One is, "Do not touch or taste anything until you ask Mom."
Well, when butter and colored marshmallows are mixing, swirling, and melting in a big pot, it's easy to get foggy brained. Hudson's excitement was building and in a moment of weakness he pulled the wooden spoon out and gave it a good lick.
OUCH! Eyes big, lips quivering, Mom yelping "DON'T DO THAT!" Pulling ice out, running the cold water...
"Oh, Hudson. I didn't tell you to not taste it because I was being cruel. I told you that because I knew it would hurt. It is so, so hot."
(Which cued Hudson to look at me like, "Really, Mom? It's hot? Thanks- I almost forgot about this blister reminding me.")
For a moment, Hudson thought that he knew best. He forgot that there is a reason I have rules and structure- so that he doesn't burn himself. I'm not the fun-police, I simply know what is best and want to protect my son. Our popcorn making day was also a day I was stewing on what 'freedom' really means.
Isaiah 28 and 29 contains passages about people thinking they know what's best for their lives. They forget that they are only the clay and believe that the Potter doesn't know what is best. Isaiah 29:16, "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say to the potter, "He knows nothing"?
I have talked to many people who believe that following Christ will rob them of their "freedom". I used to roll my eyes when a student would say, "I just want a break from the God thing for awhile. Not that I don't want to be a Christian- I just want to do my own thing." My eye rolls have turned into alarm as I have heard adults say the same thing in the past year. If we are following this line of thought, we have no understanding of what a relationship with Christ is or who He is as the Potter.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:32-36
My little brother would tell you this from his journey fighting alcohol. What began as a 'fight for freedom' and 'doing what I want' grew into something that enslaved him. It impacted every area of his life and every relationship. He tried repeatedly to overcome it on his own to no avail. Only after he surrendered to Christ did he truly began understanding that Jesus would set him truly free. He understands that Jesus warns about drunkenness because he knows what is best for us. He isn't the fun-police, He is the Potter who knows the stubborn, self-reliant clay more than the clay is willing to admit.
When my sister Megan moved in with us nearly five years ago, she mentioned that she knew she should stop smoking. Then one day she told me she went for a drive to have a smoke. As she was driving it hit her that she was missing out on family time...just to have a cigarette. Suddenly it was clear that something had a hold on her that was robbing her of God's best. She realized that she felt guilty coming in to play with our kids while smelling like smoke, and at that moment was driving aimlessly while we were all having a great time at home. With God's help- she quit.
That wasn't just a learning moment for Megan. I saw clearly at that moment it's not just about removing something that is "bad"...it's about the good, the Truth, God's better plans, that go in place of what we are enslaved to.
The beautiful thing was that God didn't just want Megan to 'stop smoking' because it's a rule. He had intended something wonderful to replace what was monopolizing her time. He replaced it with rich relationships, and time with her niece and nephews (which has turned into one of the most important relationships in my kids' lives).
"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:21-23