It was a magical evening at Clearwater Beach. The sound of gentle surf breaking on the Gulf of Mexico shore was musical accompaniment to a big sky smiling down in pastel sunset hues. Sea birds of all variety soared gracefully in the ocean breeze as golden light danced on the water.
As I stood in that place soaking up the majesty of it all, my senses alive to the smells and sounds and sights of a Florida beach in late October, something in me resonated with those birds gliding effortlessly through this grand piece of creation. I yearned to capture some semblance of the glory of the moment. Raising my camera with telephoto lens toward the sky, I focused on one gull as its flight path criss-crossed in front of clouds awash in the tones of last light.
Later at home as I processed the images, one particular frame grabbed me. My excitement grew as I massaged the digital file into an inkjet print. Holding the finished photograph in my hand, I knew I had been blessed with a special moment – that grace itself had somehow been captured in this simple image.
This picture has been etched in my mind since that fall day in 2013, and has come to hold a sweet symbolism for me…
For many years I felt trapped in a life of seeking to please others, striving to be something I was not in order to be accepted, while abandoning who I really was. Languishing in a stifling prison of my own making, I was not a free man.
But at the time I made this composition of the beautiful bird in flight, the light of God’s grace had been shining into those hard-to-reach dark places of mind and emotions, propelling me more and more toward a new understanding. A fresh foundation was laid thanks to the blessed work of an understanding counselor, Bent Meyer, followed by lots of processing, journaling, and preaching truth to myself.
So on that October day meandering along Clearwater Beach, watching the soaring seagull excelling at being himself, simply doing what he was designed to do, the internal bonds that had tied me up for so long were being cut. Not all at once. But it had begun. I was beginning to get free. I was starting to taste the precious freedom God intended for me all along. The prison doors were flung wide open and my spirit began to fly.
Sixteen months later, I look back with a grateful heart on the years of hard transformation. Today I really am a free man! I walk daily in the newness of being eternally loved and forgiven through the work of Christ, and fully embrace the person He made me and the work He allotted to me. And as I think on these things, I wonder if any readers can relate, if any of you have struggled with a prison of your own, if some right now are yearning deeply for a freedom you’ve yet to experience. If so, I pray that Grace will find you also, that you might take flight and soar in the freedom that our Creator is eager to lavish on you.
Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom.
Therefore, be firm in this freedom,
and don’t become slaves again.