True Christian Freedom

 We usually think of a “mountain-top experience” as being an exhilarating, positive one, but such is not the case with all of them. Think of the many who have been seriously injured or died attempting to scale Mount Everest or other high mountain peaks. And then there was the nightmare experience of the Randy Weaver family on Ruby Ridge near Naples, Idaho from Friday, August 21 through Monday, August 31, 1992. Sara Weaver relates the story in her recently published book, from Ruby Ridge to Freedom. Friday morning, August 21 had started out as a beautiful sunny late summer day on the mountain with no indications of the doom that awaited that family that day that would end the lives of young Sam Weaver (shot in the back) and his mother, Vicki (shot in the head), and leave the dad, Randy, and a friend, Kevin wounded. Their dog, Striker, was also shot and killed, as US Marshals and the FBI and BATF laid siege to the home atop Ruby Ridge. Sara, age 16, though grief-stricken, traumatized and scared to death, had to care for her ten-year-old sister Rachel and baby Elisheba as well as tend to her dad and their friend, Kevin who was seriously wounded. Unbelievably this went on for ten days at which time Randy was taken into custody, Kevin to a hospital and Rachel, Sara, and Elisheba taken in by grandparents. The siege had ended, but the aftermath had just begun.

     It really all began back in Iowa where Randy and Vicki had a bad experience in a local church and Randy decided then that he would never again associate with organized church. He had been really hurt and felt totally betrayed over what had happened. He began to distrust everyone. He moved his family to Northern Idaho, buying property in a remote area out of Naples on Ruby Ridge where they built a cabin and eked out a living. He had some contact with the Arian Nations group near Couer d’Alene, but again, because of his past experience, refused to join their association. Over time, he came to believe you were to live by the Old Testament Law and was rearing his family under that Law, including diet, and dress codes. Randy also concluded that “Jesus” and “God” were pagan names, so the only names he allowed to be used were “Yahweh” and “Yahshua.” Any words in the English language that had roots that had evolved from names of pagan gods, like the names of the months in a year, were not allowed to be used in the house, and anything that had these names on them had to be removed.
     They had an intense desire to please God, and do everything just right, but unwittingly had descended into bondage to the curse of the Law and had forgotten all about the most important thing of all–grace!   Without realizing it, as has happened to so many, they had fallen into the trap of a works-based faith, feeling the more they did right for God, the more of His love and protection they would earn and the more worthy they would be to stand before Him one day as one of His chosen. Sara was inheriting the idea that the more she did to please people, the more she would be loved and be worthy of that love. She was to discover in the years ahead what a dangerous and vicious cycle that became, how it leads to destruction and never satisfies that “black hole of insecurity and lack of self-worth.”
     After many more difficult experiences because of holding to that philosophy of a works faith, Sara finally came to experience the grace of God and true Christian freedom in Christ. In her book, which she wrote on the twentieth anniversary of “Ruby Ridge,” she asked, “Why is it that the message of the Gospel is so simple, yet so hard for us to grasp? Why is it so hard for us to believe that the price of our sin has been paid in full by Jesus shedding His precious blood for us, and that we are fully and completely pleasing and loved by God just the way we are? Why do we think that we can add anything to that by our feeble attempts to be righteous? Why do we live as if God doesn’t know we can’t save ourselves?  I wish those same questions would have been answered long ago at Ruby Ridge, before my mother and little brother had died” (pp. 37,38).
     It wasn’t until many years later, when Sara’s best friend, Maria, came to visit her and said with conviction and boldness: “Sara, I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” Sara had always been the “religious”one, not Maria, so she wondered how she “suddenly came to be so convicted and sure of her faith.”  Those words continued to echo in her head long after Maria returned to California. Finally she dug out her little red King James Sunday school Bible she had rescued from Ruby Ridge and turned to the one and only verse she had memorized from it–John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” She felt, for the first time, the love God has for her, and she began sobbing as she turned her life fully over to Christ as her Lord and Savior, just as her friend, Maria had done. She finally felt that hole in her heart being filled by the warmth of God’s love as He came, through the Holy Spirit, to live within her. She had a craving for God’s Word and studied it almost constantly, realizing where her family had gone wrong. Discovering what God’s grace is all about and experiencing the freedom that we have in Christ to live in His righteousness and not be under the burden of the Law to have to perform to be approved by Him and receive His love, Sara was also able finally to deal with her anger and bitterness over what had happened to her family. Now that she had experienced God’s forgiveness, she was able to forgive those involved in creating her nightmare experience.
     Sara was the speaker at the baccalaureate service at Troy High School (Troy, Montana) just a few weeks ago. She is now going around to share her story and offer hope to folks who have had terrible hurts in their life. That hope, of course, comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who not only forgives our sins, but enables us to forgive those who have wronged us. And, what freedom that brings. We cannot experience true Christian freedom without it.
 
                                                                                                            Forever His,
                                                                                                                   Pastor Dave
 
P.S.  I highly recommend that you get a copy of Sara’s book, from Ruby Ridge to Freedom, to read and share it with a friend, especially those struggling in the area of forgiveness. It is available through Overboard Books (www.overboardministries.com). Or, you can go to Sara’s website: www.rubyridgetofreedom.com.
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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