Roughly twenty five years ago there were ten or so kids who threw down their bb guns in the middle of a cow pasture in order to jump into a small pond for a swim. These kids threw mud at each other, splashed each other in the face and frantically screamed as imaginary snakes attacked. It was dirty, raw fun, and although there were no Gameboys or Playstations, there was some serious entertainment.
Last weekend I watched as my children and their cousins swam in the same pond my siblings, cousins and I enjoyed so many years ago. They threw the same mud, splashed each other in the face with the same water and frantically screamed at the same imaginary snakes that so wonderfully terrorized us a quarter of a century back. That old pond still sits nearly 150 yards from my grandparents house, and as we watched the kids I could almost see Nana shaking out the rug on the front porch as Paw paw sorted through his tackle box for just the right bait for a trip to the pond that afternoon. It was a flood of simple yet delightful memories.
My Father used to call that land his "therapy", and he said a few days at the 7HR ranch (the name my grandfather gave to his land) was better than any phsychologist he knew. My uncle, whose grave now rests a mere twenty feet from the pond, spent every free hour of his adult life working the land of that ranch. He successfully raised cattle and built a small empire on the west side of the land. His wife and children still live there today. As a child, I remember every important person in my life gathering at the ranch for a nice meal, some great family time and a few moments in the country where the hum of the interstate couldn't be heard, and every star in the sky looked as bright a well decorated Christmas roof.
Those were the simple times of freedom and rest. There was no worry that a deadline wouldn't be met, no stress about an overdue project. We listened to old country music (the real stuff), and ate like kings. We'd tell ghost stories and put grass between our teeth, and there was nothing like the acres and acres of freedom that was found in that remote setting.
As I looked at my kids swimming in that pond I felt free for the first time in a long time. I was reminded of the kind of freedom that Paul talks about in Romans 6-8. The kind of freedom that you know you have, but find difficult to attain. The freedom that comes with knowing Christ, but is hidden by the hopeless cycles of life. As I looked on, I prayed that God would set me free to embrace the freedom that Christ has already given me. Just like that old pond, God's freedom is always there. Sometimes we just need to forget about all the "stuff" and just play in it.