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our faith journey

'REAL' PERSONAL FREEDOM

How a relationship with God can lead to personal freedom and
the improved contentedness
with life that flows from it.

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1.    INTRODUCTION

Now, I do warn you that my use of the terms contentedness and personal freedom may not equal your initial view of a perfect life right now. Despite this, please bear with me! I know it took time for me to grasp it all, and then put it to the test. (The whos, hows and whys of this website are presented on the home page.)

Like me in my years as an atheist, you may have already recognised that the state of contentment in life for which you had hoped is actually unattainable! For a starter, getting what we want, and getting it when we want it, is rarely going to happen. And oh so often, as a result, prime objectives in life do go pear shaped. We often find ourselves struggling, as a result, trying to be philosophical about it all...

Starting to sound familiar?

Yes, so often in life we get this feeling that there must be more to life than this’.

And it was there, at that point, that I decided to test faith by applying it to my own life ... to see whether that a more contented, purposeful life was likely to be mine as a result.

Well, what can I say? Thirty years later? Yes, obviously I have found that faith is the answer! And I write that after constant re-evaluation of faith, and its outcomes in my life, over the years. Even in my early days of faith, I found myself on a journey that included a totally different way of approaching life: church attendances, reading the Bible and spending one-on-one time in prayer with God. Strangely, it was no longer all about me. I was in fact walking in the shadow of something far larger. And I came to realise that I had some new responsibilities to meet, yet, I also found myself becoming ... strangely I guessed at the time ... contented.

For the first time I was actually getting a handle on life.

2.    THE DEMANDS OF FAITH

But firstly, what did I mean above when I wrote that, I had some new responsibilities to meet”? Well...

Primarily, when turning to Christian faith, we need to put some effort into refocussing our lives.

2.1    Trying to live as he wants us to

Firstly, we try to follow Gods directions, made all the clearer within the Christian Gospels in the Bible: it is definitely not just ‘all about me as I have already indicated! God does not expect us to be perfect. No, he just wants us to try to live the life he wants of us: entering into a two-way relationship with him, caring deeply about our fellow human beings etc. And the Bible makes it clear also that we need to regularly attend a community/ fellowship of faith; a church.

Honestly. Honestly, all this is not really hard to do, once we get the message about his grace and recognise its effect on our everyday lives. Our chosen fellowship of faith will lead us in this regard. The essence of Christianity is explained briefly on this website.

2.2    Getting in sync with him

We should also learn how to follow the Lords guidance on our path through life (more on that later). He knows everyone of us: our personalities and natural skills. Our needs, and those of other people close to us ... even others in our communities, are also explicitly known by him. As a result when we actually engage with him in life he is able to readily provide that guidance and subsequently help each of us on our paths.

When we arrive at that stage in our faith journey trying hard to live in obedience to him and following his guidance in our daily lives we are largely in sync with him. And that is where it really can all come together for us!

3.     OBEDIENCE AND FREEDOM IN PERSPECTIVE

Even in my early days of Christianity, I came to find that through my ‘walk of faith’, I was largely freed from the innate bad habits and self-centredness that had tended to drag me down in the past. I mean I noticed a positive difference in my attitude towards life even at that stage.

But so much more can be realised through a life lived in sync with the Lord!

On the other hand we do need to understand that the road of faith, despite its positive returns, will not be totally devoid of humps and bumps.

3.1    Real freedom is the reward for obedience

Obedience to the Lord, strangely you might think right now, really does assist us to gain that personal freedom we desire in life. Like other faithful Christians, I found there was no need anymore to worry about things that might go wrong; be overly concerned about making mistakes (God used them to build me up); keep up with the Joneses; ‘suck up’ to anyone to get on in life; or be fearful of anything!

He was there to guide me in all the important facets of my life, and when I followed that guidance he then assisted me towards the best outcomes possible. Of course there are those responsibilities, so it is not all just beer and skittles, but the rewards to my mind are well worth it. Read the article, Trusting God with your life to get the big picture if you like. Yes, fundamentally, our individual lives can have real meaning and purpose. (However, note again that this potential doesnt relate to the kind of personal success that the media projects as desirable, for example fame and fortune.)

This is about how you can actually find the real you.

Finally, and without doubt, we practising Christians revel in the ultimate freedom flowing powerfully from sound faith. Gods grace ... beautiful grace ... becomes so very obvious through our ever deepening relationship with Jesus. It is all about love. He loves us without limits. Grace really does place our lives in perspective, greatly diminishing the average worries and woes that can face us in everyday life. It is actually hard to find words to precisely describe that relationship (and grace) well enough to do it justice. Or explain that love we come to have for Jesus. Again, please have a look at the article, Christianity Explained for a better explanation of our religions beauty.

Now, this is all about real personal freedom. And I am sure anyone can find it for themselves! To the unbeliever it all looks so crazy, but if you want that real sense of freedom within your life then you just have got to try all of this for yourself!

As I have stated already, adopting sound faith leads to a life where we are most likely to enjoy peace, contentment and a sense of purpose.

And although modern society tries to forget it, physical life will eventually come to an end for each and every one of us. We are told in the Bible that we Christians will then move on to eternal life: freedom from death itself. Now that is not a bad offer in itself, is it? We should have no difficulty in accepting that promise as a result of our faith and belief.

3.2    Remember that life is not always smooth sailing

Again ... yes ... as I have already highlighted many times through this website, do not get the impression that life will always be smooth sailing’. God has made no such promise.

Firstly, there may be hard work on the road ahead as you walk along with the Lord, although on the other hand it may be strangely satisfying. He will be there, if you are in sync with him on your journey, guiding and assisting you.

Remember too, life will still have its ups and downs, whether we have faith or not. Physical and emotional suffering will inevitably occur somewhere through life. And we do grow spiritually as a result. Please see the article, Suffering and Evil. It is true to say that we will be better able to cope with lifes hard knocks, when they do occur, as a result of our faith. This is because, although he may not prevent mishaps and pain occurring to us as a result of lifes spin of the dice, he is always there to support us with his grace.

Make no bones about it! He will be there.

4.    CONCLUSION

Importantly though, the more we are able to place discipline in our lives and look to God’s expectations and so-called plans for us (with his help of course), the closer and more loving our relationship with him grows, then the more ‘freedom’ we shall achieve. And as implied already I know that looks paradoxical? But it is true! It does not mean a boring life either. Again, from my experiences, there can be plenty of excitement along the way. It is all about engaging with him in life; going for faiths top gear! Prayer and looking for his guidance are two examples of where we may begin to do this in our early faith.

Of course it is up to every one of us as to how far to go with this faith filled approach, and at what stage in life. What I can say is that contentment, purpose and real freedom grows in proportion to how far we do choose to travel down this path. Every day can become a close walk with the Lord, no matter what confronts us in life. One’s life is thus sanctified. If we are willing to get to that stage in life, God then becomes a glaringly obvious presence. And I do mean that!