He walks down my street every day. He carries a white shoulder bag as he carefully takes his Seven – Five – Seven – Two – Nine – Seven steps. Between each series he pauses and it is obvious he is counting seconds as he waits to begin his march again. Sometimes he pretends to be busy with something other than the routine. He will check his watch, look at flowers or adjust something in his bag. He proffers the appearance of a leisurely stroll, but the overmastering purpose is clear. He is a captive to the ritual.
The third time I saw him do this I realized his saunter was more than a constitution. I saw it was constitutional; a deep-seated or inherent process that possessed him. And since chaos scares me, I saw him as a threat. But months have gone by and summer is over and today he is walking in a cold autumn rain. Water is pouring into his shoes from his pant legs, his hat and coat are soaked, and I wondered, “What will he do when it snows?” But I know the answer. He will worship with zeal. He will parade down my street in the midst of lake effect snow and count out his Seven – Five – Seven – Two – Nine – Seven steps. I feel so sorry for him. I wish I could free him from slavery. But I realize he finds a kind of freedom in the daily drill. It keeps his demons at bay. So even though he is a slave, he is free. The ritual affords him the ability to cope. Within its borders he is protected from anxieties that incapacitate him. Without it, darkness would possess his soul and he could not survive. So in a sense his faithfulness to the obsession keeps him alive.
I am sorry to say I am not as steadfast as that man, but I want to be. I want to be obsessed with Him that keeps me free through storms. I want to study and pray and worship Christ; for He is my freedom. And like this serial walker, I want to be a slave. I want to be captive to God. For He destroys all my demons. He calms my soul. I know there is a heaven to hope for, but today there is a liberty to live out. For I was born to be free (Galatians 5:13).
“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