Throwing a surprise birthday party is supposed to be fun… or so I thought. When my wife turned fifty, the big 5–0, I did the whole big surprise party thing, food, drinks, cake, big party, place, little sand beach and umbrella, all set up with her lounge chair (in the rented hall), all our family and friends, etc. And I pulled it off. Trouble was, she was so set on having a big party that she just knew I couldn’t/wouldn’t throw, she was planning and executing her own party for a couple weeks later. I was living a life of duplicity and white lies that just about drove me nuts. And yes, she did have two parties! She wasn’t about to cancel the one she planned and I had a point to prove!

. In our first reading (DN chap 3) we see Daniel and his two friends choose the white hot furnace rather than worship Nebuchadnezzar’s false god. God sent His angel to rescue them from the flames! In our Gospel (JN 8:31–42) Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” He tells the others that they are slaves of sin. They of course argue…

. True freedom lies NOT in just doing what you please, when you please. It is having the ability to choose what’s best, uninhibited by any undue falsehood, pressure or coercion. Having the pressure to constantly lie to keep a surprise party really bothered me. When I was young, I lied a lot! I frantically tried to keep stories from imploding or exploding to reveal other stories and lies. After my first real encounter with Jesus on my TEC weekend, I have tried very hard not to ever regress to that point again…ashamedly with limited success.

. Living the freedom of the truth of Jesus does a number of important things for me. It has virtually eliminated fear in my life, just like it did for Daniel and his friends. God can save me, but even if He doesn’t, it doesn’t mean He’s not there! This applies in both temporal and eternal situations. It has eliminated most stress, other than self inflicted stress in my life. I am who I am, and I know it is good and I am loved. My capabilities are what they are. Period. It has given me a measure of humility, to recognize both my giftedness and my limitations, with others and with God. The freedom of just living without pretense and unrealistic expectations along-side all creation is liberating and joy-filled. The TRUTH is that we are God’s children, brothers and sisters with Christ. We are eternally loved, accepted and forgiven by God…all we have to do is accept Jesus’ salvific actions in our lives. The rest (trying to live in freedom following Christ), comes at a bit slower pace, but not giving up and regressing back to slavery is not an option for me! It shouldn’t be for you either! Peace and All Good, my friends!