…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17 ESV)
Freedom to do what?…Freedom from what?
The spirit of fear hangs its dark brooding mystique over all our lives. It halts us in our tracks and impedes our strivings to learn and grow. In glowing contrast, the painting, Spirit of Hope by Maria Hunt, illustrates the emergence of the light and hope of the Holy Spirit into the seeming chaos of our lives. With freedom from fear, we are free to live, love, learn, laugh, sing, dance, dream and hope for the future. Most would say that they long for freedom from the fear of death. But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…even freedom from the fear of death. “He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things.” (Romans 8:32)
For Christians, hope is ultimately hope in Christ. The hope that He really is what for centuries we have been claiming He is. The hope that despite the fact that sin and death still rule the world, He somehow conquered them. (Frederick Buechner)
When we no longer live in fear, we are then free to truly live…live our lives in belief and hope through the presence of the Spirit of God. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that ye should abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:13) Hope is the mason jar of fireflies we carry with us in every situation in life…And please don’t laugh - I find this a helpful metaphor - to remember the thrilling glow in the darkness, a promise of light and hope for direction home. A real spiritual life…makes us so alert and aware of the world around us, that all that is and happens becomes part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response. (Henry J.M. Nouwen)
Whether said by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech or Elie Wiesel in his book, Night, when he offered a prayerful release to his father
who died in a concentration camp at Buchenwald, the exclamation, Free at Last! is the voice of hope which echoes triumph in the conflicts of life as well as final victory at the grave! I am reminded of the words from the refrain of His Eye Is on the Sparrow by Civilla D. Martin – “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” My life might be best described as one of risk. I had always longed for freedom to live life on my own terms and do whatever I wanted but the without negative consequences, of course. Perhaps it was to escape the bonds of a conservative and protective environment in which I was raised, but even before I realized the formidable adventure I would be embracing by surrendering myself to God, my nature was such that the path unknown had a special summons for me. All that being said, one might not be wrong to project that the unusual landscape and challenges afforded to me by the sequestering required in a pandemic would serve to feed my hunger for the unusual experience. I would like to say that I welcomed the opportunity but that would not be true. I struggled to find hope in a world seemingly out of kilter and fraught with danger and death…“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121
In your hands you hold a gift that will help provide a steadying, strengthening force for the living of these days. Cast Your Net Again...For Such a Time as This is an eclectic collection of scripture, prayer, music, written words, and artistic expressions that afford us gracious gifts of perspective and assurance. We hear and see the perspectives of fellow pilgrims who seek to live faithfully as followers of Christ. Likewise, by way of the wisdom gleaned from Christian traditions that span the centuries, we receive the assurance that we are not alone. So much of what we have experienced since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has had a disorienting effect on our day-to-day lives, the institutions, and the organizations on which we have counted, and – if we are being honest – on our faith. As you have the opportunity to peruse these pages, linger over the images and listen to the music included in each chapter, let the words of ancient scripture and contemporary authors find new life in your heart and mind and so discover the gifts of faith, hope, and love that sustain and keep us through it all.
Music sample: https://cast.jacobsladdercdc.org/home/o-holy-vision-most-glorious
About the Author
Lana Lee Marler offers her second book in this writing. Her first book, which was also a personal worship resource, entitled: Follow Me – A Seasonal Journey, was published in 2017. Lana is a poet, singer/song writer, and church music director. A wife and mother, she is partner in ministry with her husband who is a United Methodist minister. Lana is an artist in any medium, but long ago chose music to express her relationship to God. Her faith journey led her to a major in sacred music in college and has crossed the landscape of three denominations: Baptist, Methodist and Episcopal. Spending countless hours mastering the hymnody and liturgies of these quite varied traditions has added depth and richness to her Christian perspective. Moreover, her musical DNA is infused with the music of the times in which she grew-up – the 1960’s. Whether the song is Joan Baez’s “Swing Low” or “Just As I Am” sung from a back row Baptist pew, she connects with each tradition in authenticity. In 2004, Lana and her husband, Rev. William D. Marler, co-founded Jacob’s LadderTM Community Development Corporation, a non-profit charity serving inner-city Memphis, where the Gospel of Christ is shared through community-building, housing rehabilitation and education. All proceeds from this book will go to benefit the communities served by Jacob’s LadderTM. (jacobsladdercdc.org)