Sunday as we left, the pastor spoke conviction into my heart.
Do you think you are free? He asked.
There are often subtle gods that attempt to steal our freedom; gods of image, security, affirmation, and control. These idols keep us from truly having an intimate relationship with God.
I’ve known it to be true for years – that while I grasp full well that God is ultimately in control, I do my best to control as much as I can for myself.
I know such efforts are futile.
I know such efforts are as foolish as trying to phantom-steer a car from the backseat.
But what my mind knows, my heart tries to forget.
Because yes, I grasp that God is in control. But I fear His choices for me.
We left for Chicago after service and soul amnesia set in. Our two-year anniversary celebration was one I had arranged and planned months in advance and I was about to have four days with Seth all to myself.
The next day, we arrived at Navy Pier.
Our plan was to bike along Lakefront trail, to enjoy staring out at the iridescent blues of the lake as we talked back and forth about everything and nothing.
After two miles of pedaling, we stopped to take a rest and it was then that I noticed they were gone.
A familiar tide of panic rolled in.
I began to search the ground, my pockets, the seat of the quadricycle. Nothing.
“What’s wrong?” Seth asked, watching me as I muttered to myself.
“I’ve lost them,” was all I could say as my mind raced to every possible negative outcome.
“Lost what?” he pressed patiently, standing beside me with a hand on my back.
“My credit card and my driver’s license.”
I expected him to panic with me. I expected him to get frustrated with me for my foolishness.
I expected that he would start verbally chastising me for not putting them in a safer place.
But he merely stepped back calmly and said, “Well, let’s pedal back and see if we can find them.”
I stared at him hard a moment, looking for judgment. I found none.
We started to pedal back and I found myself falling back into old habits, reciting phrases of comfort to myself under my breath in a repetitive cycle, trying to stifle fear. It’s going to be ok… Stop panicking…You’re going to be fine… Jesus, please… It’s going to be ok…
He sat beside me and periodically, he would reach out and rub my back, my waist.
“You’re the best,” he stated with a smile. “You’re my favorite.”
I half-choked, half-laughed as I looked over at him.
“No, I’m not. I just lost my driver’s license.”
“So?” he said with that half-grin of his. “It was a mistake. We all make mistakes.”
“Yeah, but this is serious,” I chided, torn between wanting to believe him and being irritated he didn’t seem to grasp the significance of my error.
His calm optimism never wavered. He just kept smiling, pedaling in an unhurried fashion.
We didn’t find them.
After returning the quadricycle, we retraced our path for a while on foot but found nothing.
“I think we need to let it go,” he said after about half a mile. Holding my hand, he called to cancel the credit card and then reassured me that there was no record that anyone had tried to use the card.
I stared out at the water and realized with a sudden flicker of remembrance: There are often subtle gods that attempt to steal our freedom; gods of image, security, affirmation, and control.
Pulling strength from the grace being freely offered from Him and from Seth, I felt my soul let the fear and panic go. I smiled for the first time in over an hour.
Hand in hand, we left the pier and continued on with our day.
Two days later, Facebook alerted me that I had messages from strangers. I opened the first one and read: Hi, you don’t know me, but I was biking along Lakefront trail on Monday and I found your driver’s license. Would you like it back?
I quickly read the next one: Hi, you don’t know me, but I found a credit card with your name on it the other day as I was walking along Lakefront trail. Would you like me to send it back?
Seth nudged me when I showed them to him, that half-grin making his eyes dance.
“See?” he said. “God took care of it for you.”
I half-choked, half-laughed as I looked back at him.
Because yes, I knew that God was in control.
His loving grace had driven out my fear even before I knew that the cards had been found.
So this, I thought, is what it is like to taste freedom.