I appreciate various styles of music, and when it comes to country music, one of my favorite artists remains, Merle Haggard. I truly respect singer-song writers, and many of his lyrics highlight the restlessness my soul once endured. I too, felt like I was on the run with a “rambling fever” to pursue things that only faded away. Ultimately, I was lost without divine direction. For even though I knew about Jesus, I resisted surrendering my life to Him, which left me running from many of the treasures He was calling me to:
Redemption: Our spirit is restless without Christ and is damaged by sin. However, Jesus came to save us from this bondage and rescue us from its restrictive chains. Many times however, we mistakingly think freedom comes from those very things that enslave us. We want to live our own way, but this only causes us to sink deeper in despair. Christ saves and grants the true freedom we desire with a peace that surpasses all understanding – so that we can stop running and receive rest (Philippians 4:7).
Relationships: The rambling man who lives alone, leaving a trail of malnourished relationships is a common theme in life. Yet, rather than being a trait to be admired, it’s a lonely and agonizing life many choose. Sadly, I know, for I once pursued it. Why do many of us run from relationships and commitments? For me it was due to my own insecurities and selfishness. Too vulnerable to get too close, for fear of rejection and too self-centered to think of giving more than I took. In the end, only God can heal such self-centered lifestyles and restore them to be Christ-centered (Ezekiel 36:26).
Responsibilities: Clearly, if one is running from redemption so that they can have life “their way” and restricting authentic relationships in order to avoid commitments, such a person naturally desires to reduce their overall responsibilities. The calling to serve, protect, provide and care for others is simply too high of a demand – for it requires sacrifice from self. Yet, Christ transforms such hearts, making them instead, reflections of His own heart and guardians for those in need. This fuels the servants of God, for we become busy doing His work, which is far more rewarding than pursuing solely our own (Nehemiah 6:3).
Application: “Free Birds Set Free” – Luke 15:24
The descriptions of those running from responsibilities, relationships and redemptions sound harsh and none of us would rationally want to align, or associate ourselves with such mindsets and behaviors. However, when God isn’t our top priority and pursuit, these encroachments begin to creep in. For they are the traits of our flesh and the world’s deceptions. Although I still enjoy listening to a classic Merle song, or a soaring rendition of Free Bird, they now remind me to the hope Jesus provides us all and how true freedom comes to those who allow their hearts to be freed by His pursuing love – and released to love others.