Freedom; October 2, 2020

Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free.

I don’t know the Hebrew, but I like both the NIV and the Japanese translations of this verse! The first half is identical, and it too is significant. Running isn’t a halfhearted endeavor! Our obedience should be complete, not holding anything back. It’s the second half where the translations branch, and I like them both. The NIV brings to mind Paul’s statement: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) wholehearted obedience to God is inseparable from genuine freedom, in either direction. People who seek freedom by rebelling against God are badly deceived by the devil. At the same time, we can’t fully obey God without the liberty of the Holy Spirit. When we are going through the motions without our hearts being in it, that’s not true obedience, and it’s not pleasing to God. Then we have the Japanese translation which is, “You have enlarged my heart/ made my heart broad.” The Japanese expression of “a broad heart” is closely related to the English idea of a broad mind, and it means open and able to accept new people and new things. Of course, there’s the joke that has some real truth to it: “He’s so open minded his brains fall out.” This doesn’t mean to be accepting of things that are in violation of God’s commands, particularly when it follows the first half of this verse. Rather, it means accepting people who might not be obedient to God, because how else will their eyes be opened? Also, it means accepting new situations and new revelation that we might never have anticipated. We speak of “putting God in a box,” as something not to do, but what we are actually doing is putting ourselves in boxes, walling ourselves off from God’s blessings. That won’t happen if we are running in obedience to our Lord.

This of course applies as much to me as it does to anyone. I too have deliberately disobeyed God, thinking I was being “free” but not realizing I was binding myself. There is no greater freedom than flowing with the Spirit of God! Getting out of the hospital I am very appreciative of the freedom to do things, but I am quite aware of the reality that physical freedom is minor compared with spiritual freedom. There’s an originally Japanese chorus that I have translated to say, “Jesus Christ has set my spirit free, so I will praise His name with all that is in me.” I am deeply aware of, and deeply grateful for, the freedom I have in Christ. As has been said, faith in the cross of Christ liberates us from the penalty for sin (past action), the power of sin (present reality), and the presence of sin (future hope). That liberty is what I seek to share with all who will receive it.

Father, thank You again for the privilege of sharing with those men in the hospital. I pray that what they saw in me would give them a hunger for You, so that they may receive Your grace for themselves and live with You eternally, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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