barely (adverb): in a meager manner, scarcely, by a very small margin
free (adj): having no obligations or restrictions; capable of moving or turning in any direction
“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people–free of penalties and punishment chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!” Ephesians 1:7
My friend Josh (not his real name) recently spent a weekend in jail. It was a rough deal. Yes, he made a mistake. In a small town. On a Friday night. And for 48+ hours, this professional, responsible, hard-working guy lost his freedom. He wasn’t allowed to have his phone. He didn’t have anyone to talk to except for the paranoid person arguing with him and the murder suspect in the next cell over. He didn’t have a clean or private bathroom. And he didn’t have a way out.
Until the judge released him back to his regular life. What a relief to be able to connect with his friends and family, to enjoy the privacy of his home, to get back to his responsibilities at work, and to make his own choices again. It would be an understatement to say that he had a new appreciation for his freedom.
Even if we haven’t had the experience of spending time in an actual jail, we know the claustrophobic feeling. We get locked up by so many things. We are captive to criticism from ourselves, from others. We live with limitations created by our doubts, our emotions, and our bodies. We are ruled by addictions, unhealthy relationships, and patterns we continue because they seem impossible to break out of.
But Jesus has already released us from all of this. He is the wisest, most compassionate, and ultimately the most powerful judge we could ever hope for, and he has opened wide the gates of freedom. His death on the cross liberated us once and for all. We are so free, we don’t ever have to step foot in a cell again. We are abundantly, completely, forever free.
So why do we keep hanging around the jail?
Why do we keep going back in when we don’t have to?
Why are we living like we are just barely free?
Barely has an element of fear attached to it.
“We barely made it.”
“There was barely enough.”
“I barely recovered.”
Barely implies stress, lack of comfort, scarcity. But God has not put us on “house arrest”, and he is not requiring ankle bracelets.
We don’t have to live like this.
Jesus’ death and resurrection created a huge distance between us and captivity. He places around us an abundant amount of grace and healing and space. All we have to do is walk out with confidence and trust in him.
And then we can just take his hand and run away from that suffocating cell and into the fresh air of his love and freedom.
Invite Him in:
Ask Jesus to help you stop wandering in and out of the jail cells of your life. He will lead you away from the frustration and weight of living “barely” free and into the joy and openness of living “abundantly” free. He has more space, more strength, and more grace than this world could ever contain.