Free Range Friday
by June Friesen
About a year ago I ordered the book Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp who is one of
my favorite authors. There was also a journal available so I ordered that as well. As often
happens when they arrived I looked through them and set them aside as I was busy with
other books I wanted to finish. Recently I picked them up and began to read and study
them. I for one could not have imagined how challenging this study would be for me. It is
not a quick study as I find myself really trying to make this something that I can really
learn to practice in all areas of my life. I have been challenged to look at the compassion of
God for humanity. I found myself asking, “Why did God show such compassion for Adam
and Eve in the Garden of Eden?” How could God let them continue living when they were
such a disappointment to Him? And as one continues to read and study the Scriptures
humanity has struggled with following God, obeying God and God’s compassion
continues. As I look around me in my community, my country and the world and see all of
the chaos and cruelty, I am amazed that God doesn’t just zap the universe and start over
again. Yet it is all about God’s compassion.
The photo above is mine – one I took nearly fifteen years ago of my granddaughter as an
infant. She was contentedly sleeping with her hands folded (no one had folded them).
What really attracted me to take the photo though was the little patch on her sleeper –
‘LOVE.’ God created mothers with a special love for their children I believe. After
carrying a little one inside one’s body for about nine months, feeling the movements and
hearing the heartbeat a deep love/compassion develops. In today’s world the medical staff
try to also include the father in some of the special in-utero times such as listening to the
heart beat and observing the little one in an ultrasound. While these are all special
moments for us in the human world, God’s forming and giving life to Adam and Eve was
even a greater bond. And that is why in God’s compassion He was forgiving and forgiving
time and time again in the Old Testament. And now we are in the New Testament times
and you and I are able to experience this incredible compassion of God through a
relationship with Jesus, His Son. If you are anything like me, time and again I wonder how
it was or is that God continues to have compassion for me – because I have had and do
make some big ‘boo boos’ from time to time. But then Jesus’ disciple Peter had some ‘boo
boos’ too. Let me share some verses from Galations 5.
5 Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a
harness of slavery on you………
4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to
live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of
grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in
Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to
anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
7-10 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of
obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the
first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of
yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me
confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will
bear the divine judgment…….
13-15 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you
don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your
freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom
grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence:
Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage
each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will
your precious freedom be then?
16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you
won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us
that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.
These two ways of life are contrary to each other, so that you cannot live at times one way
and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you
choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated
I am not sure how many of you have ever found a painted rock with a message on it
or maybe just a picture. Several years ago I found my first one hidden under a small
bush by a fountain. It looked so professional – and it had Jesus Loves You painted
on it. Since covid my husband and I have done a lot of hiking. Occasionally we have
spotted a painted rock. I usually take a picture and go on my way. About a year ago
we were in our one our favorite hiking places and I noticed the above sign on a tree.
I do not remember what was going on in my life at that time but this message was
just what I needed to see. Again I chose to take a photo and leave it for others to
read and I pray that many were encouraged to think about how loving God is that
He chose to give them life as well as create such a beautiful world. Somehow I have
to think that the person who created this message was one with a compassionate
spirit that they wanted to use to encourage others. Looking at this photo still
reminds me of God’s love for me – as well as God’s love for each one of us – even if
one is not always perfect. That is because God is compassionate.
A COMPASSIONATE PRESENCE
Lord Jesus You were a compassionate presence when you walked this earth –
As You walked along the road people just joined You
And sometimes they asked questions along the way,
Sometimes one would come running up to You inquiring help,
Sometimes You stopped as You noticed a need along the path,
Your presence exuded compassion –
A welcoming, unconditional love to one and all –
In fact, You even entertained the presence of some who really did not like You –
You challenged them to think outside the religious boxes that they had created
And embrace You as the One Messiah they were looking for – real love.
But sadly, they could not see that compassion for themselves or for others for that
And condemned You and finally had their way and crucified You –
Oh they had been taught compassion in their religious theology
But sadly it was a theology of rules that often trumped compassion.
God, today so many of us seem to get challenged by this very same issue –
We want people to change their behavior and their actions –
We want them to go to church every week like we do,
We want them to do certain things and not to do other things –
And often we do not even know why we do what we do and do not do what we do
God, it is hard, it is downright difficult to even consider compassion as a way of life –
Especially in the world that we live in today –
So many people do not care about what they say and/or do to me or to anyone else
for that matter –
Today I want to take time to really think about how I might open my spirit to Your
And to really help others around me especially in my home and family to find my
actions and words full of compassion;
As I then go out in the world to work as well as to play may my attitude and actions
show compassion for those around me – whether I know them or not.
Yes Father – place within me a spirit of compassion
So my life can bring even more honor and glory to You.
In Jesus name, amen and amen.
Photos by June Friesen. Scripture is from The Message translation.
Christine Sine is offering three seasonal, virtual retreats to explore living in balance and in line with the natural and liturgical rhythms of the year. Join her for one or all of them September 2, October 14 and December 9. These retreats will encourage us to center ourselves and our lives as we move through the seasons beginning in Fall and moving through Advent. They will be times of reflection, creativity and fun.