Oh what a weirdo kid I was! If you grew up in church like me, chances are you were involved in your fair share of lock-ins. Basically, “lock-ins” can be described as teenagers being locked in a church building all night long with some very brave youth leaders to play games, eat junk, be crazy, and stay up all night long.
It is sort of a teenager’s dream, but I saw it as imprisonment. No amount of Cool Ranch Doritos and Chips Ahoy Cookies were going to keep this girl in confinement all night long.
Once I attempted to go to a lock-in at a local Presbyterian Church. The minute the door closed behind me, anxiety began to overtake my mind. What in the world am I supposed to do in this building all night long? What if all the planned games are boring? What if I don’t like the volunteers?
As all the other teens jumped around in their adolescent excitement, I stared at the door and focused on the scary thought of being locked in – a devised plan was needed. How would I break free?
I spent the next hour or so searching the premises. I had to see what sort of lock-down system I was dealing with and discover the weak points in their security.
It didn’t take long to find my way out – a hidden back door with no alarm. I would wait until no one was looking and slip out quietly. I could taste the freedom and I had to have it!
When my chance came, I took it. Just like that, those poor volunteers were one man down. Around midnight, I snuck out back door, ran about 4 blocks home, climbed through an unlocked window, got in my warm bed, and fell asleep peacefully. I was free!
I love this story for two reasons. One, it is so me (quarky at best) and two, the spiritual analogies are endless. Looking back, I had a great need to feel in control and lock-ins tested me to the core. To me, feeling in control was more important than having fun.
Really, I haven’t changed much at all, but God continues to challenge me to “let go and let Him.” God knows just how to work me. He never requires that I try to fit in some man-made box or adhere to churchy traditions that make no sense to me.
He doesn’t force me to stay locked up in a church building all night long. He has an “open-door policy” and allows me to come and go as I please. He is not as a possessive and demanding man; he wants us to stay because we choose to stay – because we love Him.
People often wonder why God put the “bad tree” in the garden. Why even give Adam and Eve the temptation of choosing wrong (Side Note: The tree in itself was not bad, but it was that God told them not to eat of it and they disobeyed). I believe it is because God wants to offer us the gift of free will. If our only choice is God, how would He (and we) know if we really loved Him?
Today I choose to serve God and tomorrow I will choose to serve Him again. If one feels bound in their faith, suppressed by their leaders, or oppressed by their church; it is most certainly time to find the hidden back door, slip away quietly, and run home to Jesus!
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
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