Stride Freely Through Wide Open Spaces

Maybe it’s because I’m literally perched on the edge of the ocean. Maybe it’s because there’s something awe-invoking about broad and wide expanses. Or maybe it’s because I’m still savoring my previous reading and the thought of saints comprehending the incomprehensible “breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18-19). Or, maybe it’s the Spirit. But a verse I encountered in Psalm 119 has me thinking about the immense freedom which is mine in Christ. Freedom not to do as I please, but freedom, by His grace and power, to do what pleases the God who created this vast expanse of water in front of me. It’s the blessing of “a wide place.” Or, as Peterson coins it in the Message, the blessing to “stride freely through wide open spaces.”

As I’m meditating on Psalm 119:45, I go back in my journal to see what I might have written about it previously. Thoughts from 2013 capture much of what I’m chewing on this morning. Here they are . . .

Maybe they won’t out-and-out say it, but I sense that some within the church view obedience as the “price to pay” for salvation. That if you want to get to heaven you have to give up something on earth . . . that if you want to inherit eternal riches you need to take a pass on present rewards. And, to be sure, the Christian is called to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) . . . to “enter by the narrow gate” (Matt. 7:13) . . . to not live for that which “moth and rust destroys” (Matt. 6:19). But something I read in Psalm 119 this morning reminded that these “restrictions” are in fact “redirections” toward true freedom . . . that instead of giving something up, we are, in fact, gaining life . . . abundant life . . . life to the full (John 10:10).

I will keep Your law continually,
   forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place,
   for I have sought Your precepts.

(Psalm 119:44-45 ESV)

“I shall walk in a wide place” . . . that’s the phrase that caused me to pause and consider.

Other translations render “wide place” as “freedom” or “liberty.” The Young’s Literal Translation renders it a “broad place” . . . because, well, that’s literally what the Hebrew word means . . . large, broad, or wide.

So to observe His law continually . . . to inquire of His precepts diligently . . . is to walk in a wide place . . . to live in freedom. Far from being bound by God’s word, to desire to align ourselves to the revealed will of God is to be emancipated from the cruel taskmaster of the flesh . . . and to be redeemed from the oppressive ways of this world. Far from “paying a price” for salvation, obedience is the fruit of eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that have, by the grace of God through the gospel, been made alive to the things of heaven. The holy determination to walk in heaven’s way, by the power of God through the gospel, is to be “free indeed” (John 8:36).

Having been given the mind of Christ . . . having had His laws written on our hearts . . . having been given the Spirit of God to lead us . . . is then to freely tread on the wide open plains of God’s goodness . . . to know the unrestricted reality of His presence . . . to sow with great latitude, confident of the harvest of His blessing. It is the old man, who would try and convince us otherwise . . . the old nature who would entertain a voice sent to deceive us into thinking that freedom is found in subjecting ourselves to our own fleshly desires or to the “enlightened” thinking of this world.

“For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul writes to the Galatians, “stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1)

It is by faith in the good news of the person of Christ . . . in the good news of the finished work of Christ on our behalf . . . that we were set free. By believing the word of grace and promise, we were rescued from the slave shop of sin. Why wouldn’t we also believe that same word . . . that same “power of God for salvation” . . . to be the way to true freedom . . . to be the context for living life in a wide place?

I find my delight in Your commandments,
   which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward Your commandments, which I love,
   and I will meditate on Your statutes.

(Psalm 119:47-48 ESV)

Wide open spaces. Who get’s to enjoy walking in such places? This guy!

By His grace. For His glory.

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