How Embracing My Limitations Actually Set Me Free / by Ryan Cole

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Here's the Deal...Freedom is relative. And by that I mean that the word freedom is hard to define because it's definition is based on the circumstances. It is a term that has us all striving toward a place called "free". But we all end up frustrated because the place that we call freedom is, in most cases...bondage.  Freedom is so hard to define that when you look up it's definition there are 7 definitions of the word (to start with) and each definition can be misunderstood depending on the circumstances.

What is it that you think of when you hear the word Freedom?

A Prisoner being set free from a jail cell?…or maybe you picture the American Flag and the liberties that we have been given in this country. Some of you are thinking of that moment when you moved out of your parent’s house…or maybe some of you are still living there waiting for your day of freedom…

Maybe you're struggling with an addiction and your thought of freedom is being loosed from your dependency on a substance or a relationship. Others of you think of slaves being let go from their masters while some of you imagine an abusive relationship that you want to be rescued from.

Even Jesus understood that there was some confusion when it came to the term Freedom..and we quote the famous scripture in John 8:36 "Whom the son sets free is free indeed" without really understanding the context of what he was saying. I'll break that down here further on down...

One great example that I can take from the scripture of most of our perception of freedom is from the story of the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son's Perspective

Even though the prodigal son was very wealthy and taken care of, he saw his current state as bondage. His idea of freedom was to get what he thought "was owed to him" and be allowed to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Sure, this is one idea of freedom...

This idea quickly changed once he squandered all of his money and he was eating slop with the pigs. From this new vantage point FREEDOM was being able to go back to his Father's house as a servant and feed from the crumbs off of the table...Funny how life can change so quickly right?

This is the bait of sin...The enticement of sin is to be convinced that to have no limitations is freedom... until the horrible bitter truth comes down on you and you realize that to live life without moral restraint is in fact slavery to the bondage of your flesh. Don't take the bait that the enemy offers...

Freedom is not a term that suggests having no limitations but, in fact, it is the DESCRIPTION of a certain set of limitations. In essence…Freedom is knowing how to embrace the right limitations.

Now we can look at the scriptures for the right perspective when it says...

1Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV
"16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

Unless you have embraced God as "Lord" there can be no true freedom. If he is not the one guiding the dimension of your life then you remain captive to the "supposed" liberties of your flesh.

Romans 6:15-23 “When you were slaves…. you were also free…”

So it remains to be true, that everyone is free on some level.

I could ask you whether a person behind a jail cell were free, and your first response would be no...but you are only taking into consideration the physical restraints. In fact this man is free, within the confines of that jail cell. And I know millionaires that are miserable and we hear of many rich people who commit suicide every year while there are men behind physical bars that are more free in their minds than anyone out here in the real word.

The question is not whether you are free or not…the question is which side of freedom are you on?

We have been formulated to believe that the word “limits” is a bad, bad word. Especially in America, where we fought and continue to fight for our independence, the idea of a “limit” has become evil. At the same rate, this ideology has brought up a generation that bucks up against any form of authority because of their sense of entitlement.

We must understand that there is a difference between independence and freedom. They are not synonyms or the same meaning in 2 words. To declare independence is to declare “self-government”, “self-rule” “a separation and a personal sovereignty”.

On the other hand, freedom is to declare DEPENDANCE to a certain set of limitations.  It is liberation from slavery. It’s having the full ability of choice or action. 

Since we are living in the Kingdom of Heaven, as citizens, we are fully dependent on that Kingdom because we are submitted to a sovereign and great Ruler. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we choose to take on the heart of a servant. Although we are in essence "free"…it is our very freedom that keeps us bound to the heart of God.

The idea of independence is in determining your own limitations. The idea of freedom in the kingdom, is to embrace the limitations that God has given you for each season of your life.

We can either think of these limitations that God gives us as a wall that keeps us out of something or a boundary that keeps us safe and protected within something.

Here are some examples:

1.     If you don’t embrace the boundaries as a single person then it will be harder for you to experience the freedom in marriage. Why? Because with marriage comes a whole new set of limitations that you can either fight against or embrace. If you embrace the God given limitations you will experience his freedom. Limitation #1 Staying away from sex before you are married is not a restriction...but a freedom. If you've ever been married and had to deal with the issues of your past you would understand this.

Paul encouraged those that were single to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7:8 because of the "freedom" that a single person has to serve God first while a married man or woman must be concerned about their spouse. There is freedom in each season if the limitations of each season are embraced.

2.     If you don’t embrace the limitations of a budget on a lower level, how can you manage the limitations of a budget on a greater level? Don’t think that millionaires don’t live on a budget. It’s just a greater budget with a greater level of responsibility. You may think that having a lot of money is your key to freedom but what if embracing great self discipline is where you will find freedom?

3.     A physical issue may limit you right now in your body. I believe in full healing through the blood of Jesus however I do realize that we can be captivated in more bondage in our minds than in our body. Jesus recognized this by forgiving sins before healing...Mark 2:1-12

What you are focusing on right now in your body as a limit may be in fact be an opportunity as well. It may be an opportunity for you to think more creatively or to embrace certain sympathy or compassion toward others. It may be a reminder of the grace of God that is able to see you through the pain.

I think of Nick Vujicic who lives life without his limbs (he has no arms or legs) and writes a book called "Life without Limits". How inspiring! What a great concept to still live in freedom while others would look at your situation and think of it as a restriction! What seemed to be his greatest problem was in fact, his greatest opportunity!

What about the Bible?

Paul had the thorn in his flesh as he talks about in 2 Corinthians 12, not as a punishment…although you can certainly see it as that.  It was not a punishment…it was a limitation. One that kept Paul humble and full of the grace of God.

Titus 2:11 “The grace of God teaches us”

What if Freedom is more a matter of perspective than a matter of physical limitations? God is more concerned about you being free in the spirit of your mind than you being free out here in the natural world. In fact, you can be a millionaire and be locked up in bondage and in the same way you can be behind bars, serving a life's sentence and be free in your mind, at peace, and living on purpose.

Whom the Son FREES FREE, is REALLY FREE.

Sounds like a whole lot of repeating...but that is how you would accurately read the phrase in John 8:36. Let's look at the big picture.

The bible says that Jesus was talking with Jewish men and he said to them in John 8 "32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This didn't sit right with these Jewish men. They considered themselves free because they were descendants of Abraham (read the scripture...it's there).

Jesus looked right back at them and said “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants."

I looked up the different words for freedom here in the original language and was shocked...The Jewish men and Jesus were talking about freedom but from 2 different angles, using slightly different variations of the word...freedom.

The Jewish men were convinced that they were free because the freedom that they were referring to was in relation to the law of Moses. They said...oh we're already free because we have this set of standards that make us free. We know what freedom is...

Jesus said back to them...your freedom and my freedom are 2 different things. Your freedom is one that you have to strive to attain. How many people are striving to get to a place called "there"...a place of freedom. If I could just get married then I'll be free...if I could make this amount of money, then I'll be free or if I could just follow the 10 commandments then I will free...This is not freedom....this is bondage.

Jesus said if I make you free (from the inside out) then you will be free on the outside and the inside...Because of Jesus, we don't live by striving! We live through Grace by the leading of the Holy Spirit which we now have access too because of Jesus!

We don't do certain things...not because somebody told us not to...We don't do it because the Holy Spirit restrains us. We don't do it because our relationship with Jesus is more important than a momentary pleasure.

Don't get me wrong here...With God, nothing is impossible. I'm not talking about limiting yourself or your possibilities when it comes to accomplishing big things and pursuing vision. What I am talking about is learning to embrace the GOD GIVEN Limitations on the season that you are in!

Know this...Although every season of our lives present new God given limitations to us, we serve a LIMITLESS God. So in the same sense we must approach each new season not with our own set of limitations that we would put on ourselves but approaching God to know what is our "matron of rule" in that season.

Once you understand this you will know how to rightfully walk in the AUTHORITY OF CHRIST.

Ephesians 4:7 says "each one of us is given a measure.."

When a runner runs a race there are lines on both sides. These are called “matrons”…it is the same word that we use in “metronome”. Where musicians play to a certain Rhythm.

As my mentor, Dr. Cindy Trimm, says, "For everyone there is a grace, and a space, and a pace for your race"... Understanding your grace...will cause you to walk in true FREEDOM!

When I learned to embrace the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that's when I experienced true freedom. When I stopped chasing things and pursued purpose, I became more alive than ever before.

Who knew that thinking inside of the box, so to speak, would help me be more creative than I ever was before...striving to get out of the box. What if it's not the box your fighting, but your perspective of the box. So many people say that they are "thinking outside of the box"...however the box is still their frame of reference. Even if they are outside of it. Once you embrace the limitations that God has in each season you stop worrying about the box and start focusing on the purpose that God has for you!

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