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Footloose and Fancy Free

Have you seen one of those social media posts, depicting some rotary dial phone or old flour sifter from Grandma's kitchen? Each one asks if you are 'old enough' to remember what these items are, and each of them are things I remember well, so I guess I am not only 'old enough', but I am getting downright old! Kids today will remember other things. I saw a post last night depicting a cell phone charger and plug, indicating that it was a 'teenager's umbilical cord'. Times were different when we were children. Back in the 60's no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary game play. Today, we observe kids inside, in front of media device, often because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free". Sad, isn't it? I wonder, though, just how much of our life's celebrations we miss out on simply because we live so sheltered? I think it may be bigger than we think!

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God, there's no one like you. You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!" (Psalm 35:9-10)

Battle raging, negative people all around, and pressures closing in on every side. Does this sound like any of your days lately? Right smack in the middle of that mess you are in at the moment, are you able to speak affirmatively about the outcome of that battle? Most might want to bitterly complain about being "hemmed in" - forced to see and do only what our enemies will allow us to do - but did you ever think about shouting loudly of being "loose and free" in God's protection? What our pursuers fail to recognize time and time again is the celebration within each of us that is not limited by the restrictions we feel "without" or "around us". We could choose to pull in and live a very sheltered life. Safe and secure from the things which might hurt us in the world around right now. Unfortunately, many of us do this without even noticing we are doing it. We simply "live life" without really knowing what is going on around us - not really oblivious, just un-involved. "Let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing and singing..." This is a prayer as much as it is a statement. We can be very conscious of the impact of the negative influences around us - but we do not want to be negatively impacted by the presence of those negative influences.

As I pen these words today, it is crazy what some will do in the face of a 'virus' attacking our world. The truth is that there are and have always been viruses that have attacked us in huge proportions, at times. We live in a society in which "bad stuff" (even "horrific stuff") happens. We are going along, totally unprepared for the tragedies of life and then, without notice, we are plunged smack-dab into the midst of something we never thought we'd have to deal with. We can stockpile water, hoard the rolls of toilet paper, and even buy up all kinds of cold remedies, but will we escape the influence of this virus in our world? If you have monies in the stock market, you have already been negatively impacted. You could run to some far off region and 'ride it out', but is that the thing to do? Probably not! We cannot control our world. Try as we might, we cannot "pull in" and sequester ourselves in our own safe little cocoons. In fact, we should be praying for God to continue to allow us to run free and loose. Be ever mindful of the heart's response of fear - how it paralyzes, pulls back, and tends to limit activity which may be perceived as a threat. We may not be faced with literal 'deadly viruses' in our moment of fear, but whether we face the diagnosis of cancer, the loss of a job, or the uncertainty of being sicker than sick, we all face our "fearful moments". What we do in those moments determines the impact these moments will have on our lives (often for a long, long time).

What will you do with your fear? I recommend whole-heartedly that you take it to God. God is delighted for us to recognize when it is we are beginning to "pull in" and feel less like we are actually running "loose and free". Be honest with God. We may find ourselves surrounded, spoken of in ways that clearly damage our reputation, and threatened in ways we cannot even imagine, by things we cannot possibly see around us. Yet, we can do one thing with this "fear" that will clearly deliver us from the "sequestering" effect of fear - PRAY! Open your heart honestly to God - admit we are "surrounded". Isn't this what fear does? It makes us feel like we are surrounded. If we are not surrounded by enemies on the outside, we surround ourselves with "walls" to keep others out and ourselves "safe" - don't we? Enemies without and within - all must yield when God steps in! Fear keeps us from enjoying God as we should. We just don't sense his presence when we are surrounded with fear's tight grip - walls thicker and harder than a concrete bunker. Instead, we are attempting to "deal with" our fears. WE don't deal with them - God does! How? In freeing us to praise and celebrate his goodness, his faithfulness, and his grace! Just sayin!

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