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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Wednesday, November 10

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
—John 4:13-14


I’m finding that freedom is a reliable gauge for knowing God. Paul said in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free” and wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

What I mean by “freedom” is not just doing whatever you want. For example, sometimes when I am depressed, I want to escape those feelings by doing the following: Get a large bowl, fill it with cookies and cream ice cream, spoon on a mountain of whipped topping, crumble a heap of graham crackers all over it, and dive in!

Anesthetizing my pain and emptiness with a sugar high isn’t exactly “freedom.” Sometimes we feel numb and dead inside, and we’ll turn to anything—even an emotional affair or a diet of porn—to feel alive and satisfied. But relief quickly wears off, and we’re right back where we started, or worse. I even wonder at times if my exercise routine is a drug I am addicted to. None of this is “freedom.”

What I mean by “freedom” is being liberated from our misplaced dependencies on life, worth, significance, and fulfillment. I was surprised to discover that the source of all of these things is inside me; the living water and bread of life are within me through the risen Christ. 

No person, endeavor, thrill, formula, or achievement is capable of delivering what we all crave deep within. C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

On my walk through life, when I am confronted with some decision or perspective, I ask myself, “Will doing or believing this bring freedom?” If doing or believing points me in the direction of liberation, grace, and love, I go with it. If doing or believing something stimulates fear, captivity, legalism, law, dependency, hatred or condemnation, I turn the other way. 

I wonder if that’s why all the “sinners” in the gospels were drawn to Jesus. Just being in his presence and listening to his words stirred freedom in their soul. My cookies and cream concoction is good, but not that good!

God, as I walk through this world today, help me keep my feet firmly planted in that other one.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.