what you can do to live free!


On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston – an experienced hiker – was climbing alone in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. As he descended a slot canyon a 360kg boulder dislodged, crushing and pinning his right arm against the canyon wall. 

Ralston was trapped for five days – rationing his food and water, drinking his own urine, and eventually slipping in and out of consciousness and delirium. On May 1, he infamously amputated his own arm (you might want to read that back again to get the full gravitas)!! He cut his own arm off! He fashioned a tourniquet, broke the ulna and radius bones and then sawed through his skin, veins and nerves with a largely blunt knife (I hope you read that quickly because – ew!).

Once free, he had to rappel down a 20m wall (one handed) and hike the 13km to his vehicle. He met a group of hikers on the path who gave him food and drink and alerted authorities (who had commenced searching after Ralston’s family reported him missing). He had lost 25% of his blood volume and 18kg of overall weight. 

It is an amazing, barely believable story. The lengths he went to in order to be free. It causes us all to wonder what we would do in a similar situation. The extremity of his circumstances clearly propelled him to act beyond what a person would otherwise even consider let alone be capable of. 

Ralston was determined to free himself from the rock because he knew his prospects there were slim and getting slimmer. He knew that so long as he remained pinned to that rock the likelihood of dying in that place would increase. He determined to be free – at the cost of his arm and unimaginable pain and discomfort. So much so that he reported he was “looking forward to the amputation and the freedom it would give.” 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” 

– Galatians 5:1

Paul reminds us that the price for our freedom has been paid by Jesus on the cross so we can LIVE free. The eternal consequence of our sin has been sorted, we’re restored to relationship with Father God, life to the fullest is on offer – freedom.

But do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Ever feel weighed down? Or burdened? Ever feel bound to a habit or caught in an unhealthy relationship? Ever feel pinned down by guilt or shame? Ever overwhelmed with regret or entangled by sin?

That is not the language of freedom! Those experiences are not the marks of free people!

If Jesus has done what’s necessary FOR freedom – perhaps we have to look at what WE need to be doing to LIVE free?

Aron was willing to do whatever was necessary to release himself from his trapped position. 

What do you need to let go of to release yourself to live free? What drastic, maybe even painful, measures might you take to free yourself? What hard decisions, painful disciplines, difficult conversations, deliberate re-learnings, or intentional first steps do you need to action to see you move toward the freedom Christ desires for you? 

what would someone look like if they looked like you?


When I was about three years old my mum walked past my room to hear me disciplining my dolls. 

“One …two …four!”

Mum was about to correct my counting when I continued, “aren’t you glad I didn’t say three?”

You can probably guess that the old count to three was one of our family’s discipline strategies. And here my lucky dolls were getting a reprieve by me not saying three before they had a chance to rectify their behaviour. 

Most learning for children happens by modelling and mimicking. They learn language, counting, basic life skills (like dressing and eating) all by watching adults and older children. This is also true about intangibles like attitude and character. 

As front row audience members to the day to day lives of their parents, family and friends, they absorb something of their values, morals and ethics. This is largely positive, except for the part where they pick up on the inconsistencies between our speech and behaviour or where they accurately mirror attitudes or tendencies of which we are unaware or not proud. 

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”‭‭ Phil‬ ‭4:9‬

Paul says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised.” (The ‭MSG‬‬)

Now, I’m completely ok with people putting into practice what they learned from me. I am an intentional leader and teacher. They’re hopefully learning some good gear! But what you hear, see and realise or observe? I’m not so sure all of that is ideally replicated. 

Whilst I think Paul is a little nuts to make this declaration, I like what it demonstrates of the recognition that he was a person of influence and authority and that with such privilege came a high degree of responsibility. He was aware. He knew that beyond what he said, people would be looking at what he was doing and saying. 

How about for us? If others are repeating our speech, what do they sound like? If they’re adopting our values, what are they like as a citizen, a friend, a worker, a family member? If they were to give like we give, would they be generous? If they were to accept and include like we do, would they be non-judgmental and embracing? If they were to extend grace as we do, would they be first to apologise and quick to forgive? 

Everything you’ve heard and seen and realised


Our response to this ought not be one of condemnation and guilt but conviction and inspiration. 

We don’t get to choose IF we influence but we do get to choose how and to what. 

single – it’s a real thing!


One of the challenges of youth is that you start making decisions that can dramatically impact your future when you are least likely to be legitimately considering your future! It’s biologically true (in relation to brain development) but also just reality that without a very long personal history a young person’s capacity to consider their future is limited.

When dealing with these decisions that come up, I like to ask young people to try and picture what they hope their future holds because it’s really only in light of this that they can make choices that are heading them in a positive direction. What kind of person do you want to be? What activities would you be doing? Where would you be working? What kind of people would be in your world? … and which of these choices you’re considering would make that future more possible?

Everyone I do that exercise with imagines that they’ll be married. Everyone. Depending on age and how far into the future we’re projecting they might also be considering children. But even those who are not particularly interested in dating right now or still believe the opposite sex has ‘germs’ – when asked to picture their future, expect it to include a spouse.

It’s part of the narrative of life. It’s how humanity was created to continue. Attraction that leads to intimacy and oneness in marriage that leads to offspring who are attracted to others and get married and have offspring. It’s the ciirrrrrrrcle of liiiiiiiiife! (You sang that, I know you did!)

While that may be exactly how the future plays out for most – it’s not a guarantee for all. And even if it is in the future for our young people – it will not be the only or necessarily most significant part of what their future holds. And even if it is to be a significant part of their future – that may be some time away. So what about now? What about between now and then?

We need to develop a theology of Singleness.

EVERYONE is born Single. EVERYONE will remain Single for a significant portion of their lives (marry at 20 and live to 80 and you’re looking at 25%!!).

SINGLENESS IS A LEGITIMATE THING!

  • Created for relationship 

As sexual, relational beings (these things are not just switched on as a preparation for marriage) everyone is called upon to appropriately manage these desires and needs in their time of Singleness – however long that may be. The wrestle of youth is a volatile mix of raging hormones, developing emotions and relational immaturity. They are difficult times to navigate. But, also for the older Single, these needs and desires are God given – how are they to be met and managed when you’re not (or not yet) married?

  • Singleness is a valid life status

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, advocates for Singleness. He says Single life is less complicated than married life (no need to amen that loudly, married people!!). He acknowledges that Singleness allows for a singleness of focus on God without the innate energy, time and heart-focus a married relationship requires. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that he’s right. I don’t believe Paul is saying NO ONE should be married (because he’s a smart guy too, he understood the circle of life even before Disney released the Lion King) but he is saying if you’re not there are some specific freedoms, privileges and graces that are part of that season. There’s some things you can do now that you might not be able to if you marry. A different kind of freedom in your time, finances, decision making, focus and availability.

  • Singleness is a season to be embraced

Ultimately, Singleness is one of many seasons that will make up a person’s life. Ecclesiastes 3 speaks about there being ‘a time for everything and a season for every activity’. Across a life time a person will experience all manner of seasons – times of preparation and study, times of success and achievement, seasons of ‘plenty’ and seasons of ‘lack’, times of ill-health, times of grief, times of celebration and exploration … you get the idea. Every season has its own lessons to teach us, pros and cons, opportunities and challenges. Given that life is just a collection of these seasons – end to end and overlapping, long and short, repeated or forgotten – in order for our life to be lived to its fullest each season must be embraced and maximised. Singleness is no exception.

It’s completely valid to desire marriage – God asks us to bring Him the desires of our hearts. I think we’d serve ourselves, one another and our young people well to let some of these thoughts about Singleness pepper our conversations, our prayers and our expectations.

 

do all things really work together for good?


I have this verse (Romans 8:28) on my wall. 


Because I walk by the wall so frequently, I am constantly reminded of this promise and affirmed and strengthened by it. 

As with all scripture, this verse has the potential to be misinterpreted or misapplied which can lead to disappointment and disillusionment. 

Here’s three truths that are essential for understanding this text correctly. 

1. All things work out for good – even if they aren’t good now. 

This is a future promise not a present guarantee. Paul does not say “all things ARE good for those who love the Lord”, he says, “God WORKS all things for good”.  There’s a big difference. 

Our faith and trust in God allow us to interpret our current trials and pains through the lens of a future hope we have that these hurts will not be for nothing – that they will be caught up in God’s big picture plans for our lives and His glory. 

To look at some of my own life experiences – death of family members, family breakdown, miscarriage or a painful divorce are NEVER good in and of themselves. This verse doesn’t suggest that for those who love God divorce is good or for those who love God death and loss are good; not for a minute. It does promise us that in the hands of a loving Father those experiences can be redeemed and we can learn, grow, mature and flourish through them, because of them and inspite of them. 

2. All things work out for good – but sometimes even that good doesn’t feel good. 

Because we are not God and because of the many shortfalls in our character and ability to know the future, what we think is good for us and what God knows is good for us are not always the same. 

God’s plans to redeem all things for good may include the good of doing without things that He knows aren’t healthy or helpful for us – even if we want them. They may include us being humbled or learning painful lessons that ultimately grow and refine us. 

To fully appreciate the “good” God is bringing about we need to ask Him for HIS eyes to see and appreciate what He has in mind for us. It may not look good to us, but He is a perfect Father who only gives good gifts. He invites us to trust His big picture plan. 

3. All things work out for good – but the timing of the good is not ours to know or control. 

My maternal Grandparents were killed in a car accident together when I was 11 years old (and they were only in their early 60’s). Our family treasured the promise of this verse as we absorbed the news of their tragic death and prepared for the funeral and life without them. We learnt it as a song! At the funeral, a family member came to faith! The witness of Grandma and Pa’s lives and the confrontation of their death brought this lady into an eternal relationship with God. See, we said, God is even using this for good!!

I love that story. I love the grace of God to make this promise so tangible for us. It stood me in good stead for future trauma and tragedy that was ahead for us as a family and me personally. But the more common story is that it can often take more than a few days for the “good” to evidence itself. Sometimes it may be years in the making. Sometimes it may even remain unknown to us. 

Just because we haven’t seen the good yet doesn’t mean it’s not coming. God’s timing is always perfect. 

How have you seen this promise at play in your life? When do you find it hardest to hold on to? When has it been most encouraging?

Comment below or email me directly at kimberlyrsmithministry@gmail.com