There’s no such thing as absolute freedom. Bob Dylan was right “You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed/You’re gonna have to serve somebody/Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord/But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
We’re always serving something or someone. It might be pleasure or power or money. It might be the agenda of our political party, or the glories of our alma mater or the reputation of our family, club, group, or class. It might be to the status quo, which we serve by never speaking-up or standing-out or asking questions. It might be our fragile egos, which we serve by polishing our image, making an impression, and stage-managing our children to act-out the scripts we never had the courage to play.
It could be devotion to the way of love for God and neighbor. It could be a commitment to extending God’s justice and peace, grace and mercy, God’s presence and joy to everyone. It could be a resolve to live like Jesus. Loving God and neighbor, working for God’s will and way, and becoming like Jesus—these phrases describe a way of serving which results in our experiencing the vibrant, abundant, and radiant lives God wants us to have.
In his novel The Second Coming, Walker Percy has Will Barrett contemplate a lazy cat and reflect on his own life. “All at once he realized where he had gone wrong; there was this cat sitting in the sun, one hundred percent cat, and as for himself, Will had never been one hundred percent anything in his whole life.”
A cat, which is one hundred percent cat, is free. A squirrel, scampering across the ground and scurrying up and down trees, is free. A soaring and singing bird is free. When Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte jumps in the swimming pool, when Hope Solo takes to the soccer field, and when Kobe Bryant drives to the basket, they are in touch with the freedom which comes from doing what they were made and have trained to do.
When Doc Watson let songs of loss and longing flow from his heart through his guitar and voice, when John Coltrane’s gratitude welled-up from his soul and moved like a river through his saxophone, and when Bach pressed his hands and feet to the keys and pedals of the organ and set loose a barrage of joyful praise, they gave us the sounds of freedom which they were uniquely graced to hear.
All of us, when we commit ourselves as completely as we can to the will and way of God made known in the history of Israel and in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, catch sight, hear whispers and feel stirrings of what it is like to be one hundred percent ourselves. The greatest freedom comes from a full and glad yielding to God.