Two Cubans. Three Americans. I'll never forget sitting around the breakfast table on a hot and steamy Havana summer morning in the home of a Cuban Pastor and his wife a few years ago. It was still a closed country. I have traveled there four times with a religious visa and it has marked some of the most pivotal moments of my life and journey with God. We always exchanged stories as we sat around the table or on porches in rocking chairs over a pot of Cuban coffee in the mornings before heading out to the villages.
This particular morning light-hearted stories filled the air. The kind of stories that bring pause from the oppressive realities. They needed it. We all needed it. We all laughed a lot that morning.
Once the laughter died down, the words the Cuban Pastor's wife spoke next would become forever etched in my mind. I recall as if I sat in her kitchen this morning. I will never forget. She looked up from her coffee cup after minutes of laughter, with tears in her eyes and said, "You Americans laugh different than we do. You laugh as free people.
The hurt in my heart for the country of Cuba grew a deeper that morning in the silence that followed.
I have spent 40 days of my last decade on that soil when it was closed and oppressed. I have heard the stories of injustices as I sat in their living rooms. I have walked through their villages and sat on their worn sofas and rode in cars left behind when Americans fled the country. I spent time in places where people will never step foot out of the places they were born. Places where dirt is the floor - where they depended on rations for food and walked miles for water. Simply living to survive.
There were no words.
This world craves freedom as America has freedom, but I am convinced that the entire world, American or not, craves the freedom that we as Believers have - whether they realize it or not.
There is a freedom that comes in Christ, that nothing can match - no matter what country border you live within.
We, as Americans, can live inside of a free border, but never truly experience freedom if we don't know Christ.
We can be delivered from something but not be free.
On the other side of redemption we cannot do life as it was done before and expect to live in freedom or fullness of the New and and Now that God brought us to, unless we learn a whole new way of doing things. So much of my life I've spent significant time in places such as discontentment, fear, shame, rejection - until the last few years. But God... has opened my eyes and invited me to learn a whole new way of seeing Him and understanding how He sees me.
John 8:36 says 'if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.'
He is the source of Truth. The perfect standard of what is right. He doesn't give us freedom to do what we want to do. He gives us freedom to do what God wants us to do. As we seek God, Jesus's perfect truth frees us to be all God meant us to be.
The very things that sought to silence me became the very things that made me fight hard - on my knees - for freedom for myself, which I knew would lead to freedom for others.
Freedom comes when we allow the Presence of God into every area of our lives. He's not afraid of any area. What area do you need to surrender to find true freedom? He already knows. He loves you with a gracious, compassionate love. He is able and is so for you.