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Travels from Omaha, Nebraska



by Stephanie Olson, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder 

I would like to begin this blog by thanking all of the men and women who have fought so faithfully for our rights and freedom in this country. We are blessed by you.

Freedom is a funny thing. I believe that in order to truly be free, you have to relinquish your own control in some way. Think about that. If we want to be free in a certain area in our lives, we have to sacrifice something in a different area. If I want the freedom to have short hair, I have to sacrifice having long hair. Not a big deal with that example, but when we commemorate Memorial Day, we understand men and women had to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. They had to give up their familiar way of life to help provide our freedom and independence as a country. Right now, as we celebrate Memorial Day, we have troops sacrificing their lives for us. We celebrate such freedom as a country every year, but today could be your own day of freedom.

Shortly after my husband Eric and I got married, we decided we were going to go and buy a yellow lab. We had found a lab for sale in the paper on this huge farm that also had pheasants. The guy had two puppies left, a yellow lab, the one we intended to get, and a cute little black lab–sisters. Eric made the mistake of going off to see the pheasant farm and leaving me alone with the two dogs. It took no time at all for me to fall in love with both of them, and by the time we left the farm, we were the proud owners of two dogs. We named them Coco and Chanel, and for those of you who know anything about fashion, you get that. 

Coco and Chanel are great dogs, but we always found that Coco, our black lab, was a little–okay, a lot–smarter than Chanel. Yet, Coco was the innocent-looking one that always seemed to be the least likely to be at fault when they got in trouble, and because there were two of them, it would appear that they got into trouble more frequently than if there had been only one.

The house we lived in at the time had a four-foot chain-link fence that worked really well for our dogs for the first couple of weeks or so. But as the dogs grew, they realized that they could easily jump the fence and have the run of the neighborhood all day long. It didn't take us long to figure out that we would have to implement something stronger as far as keeping our dogs in the yard. The next step was a big chain-link kennel–big enough for two labs to fit in comfortably while we were gone. Needless to say, our two angels figured out how to pry open the door, escape, and jump the four-foot chain-link fence. Strike two! 

At this point, we decided a little bit of pain would be the answer. We set up an invisible fence. That way, if they crossed it, they would receive a shock from a collar and quickly learn that crossing the invisible fence was a bad idea. Well, I think Coco, the smarter of the two, convinced Chanel to cross and see how badly it might hurt. Unfortunately for us, the dogs learned that after a couple quick shocks, they were off to freedom again. So, they would break through the big kennel, suffer through the shock of the invisible fence, and jump over the four-foot fence. Brilliant. 

At one point, I asked a friend to just check on the dogs and make sure that they were still in the yard. She called me and said, "You have a yellow lab and a black lab, right?." 

"Yeah … why?" I asked. 

"Because right now," she explained, "they are running down the street!" 

Ugh. Well, we finally wised up and built a six-foot privacy fence that they could not jump over! We won! 

What my dogs didn't understand is that when they broke through the confines of the safety of our yard, they could run into all kinds of dangers that they couldn't foresee. The humane society would pick them up, haul them away, and lock them up until we came and bailed them out. They could have been hit by a car and seriously injured or killed. Any number of things could have harmed them. 

Yet, when they stayed put, they had the freedom to run, and play safely under our constant watch and care. Although they thought they were receiving freedom when they escaped, their true freedom to live a happy and content life, was in the safety of our backyard.

Freedom in Christ is a lot like that. We often think that when we become a Christian, we gain a big rule book with many rules and regulations that we must follow. To us, that certainly doesn't look like freedom. We often want to break free and do our own thing, live our own lives. Yet, what we don't always understand is that true freedom is turning our wills and lives over to Christ. True freedom is allowing Him to take control. 

Galatians 1:5 says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." When I was living my life far from Christ, I had the idea that I was free to do whatever I wanted. But what I quickly realized when I surrendered my life to Christ was that I had been living a life in chains and bondage, not freedom. It wasn't until I surrendered my will to Christ that I was truly free.

Just like my dogs that are free to roam in my backyard, because I have repented from my sins and turned my life over to Christ, I am free to live a life in victory! Listen to what Psalm 103:11-12 says. "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." 

Our goal should not be to gain freedom so we can do our own thing. Our goal should be to gain Christ to live our lives free from the chains that keep us away from Him. Today can be your "day of freedom." Just turn it all over to Him and allow God to take control of your life and give you the freedom Jesus Christ wants you to have! 

Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

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