“He belonged to someone and could no longer pretend otherwise, but he didn’t know who his master was.” Tad Williams, Shadowheart

Most of us only think of an absence of restrictions when we think of freedom. But is this all we need to think of?

Tim Keller, the author of The Reason for God says: “A fish, because it absorbs oxygen from water rather than air, is only free if it is restricted and limited to water. If we put it out on the grass, its freedom to move and even live is not enhanced but destroyed. The fish dies if we do not honour the reality of its nature.

With that in mind, do we need to consider the limits of our nature and what we are like? Is freedom more than just the lack of limits but finding out what we are made for?

Like a fish our natures have some obvious physical limits. The fish needs water to breathe; we need air. But as well as physical needs, we have social needs and may I suggest also, spiritual needs. Dare we acknowledge that? If that is true then wouldn’t living within the restrictions and relationship of a higher being be the place where we would really flourish and thrive?

The Bible records how God’s people lost their physical freedom time and again as various empires overtook them. The loss of physical freedom was so often tied to spiritual confusion like worshipping false gods, where like fish people tried to swim in the wrong environment.

When I look back on my spiritual journey I remember a time I was hostile to anything that smacked of outside control, having experienced a strict upbringing. This affected my view of church. I was worried about the idea of religion and didn’t want to move from one area of being controlled to another. During my time at university I got to know some practising Christians and found that they described a freedom I knew nothing about. At first I felt like a fish out of water, but as I got to know God and experienced church as a family, I found a wonderful sense of belonging.

What does freedom mean to you today? Are you really free or are you like the proverbial fish out of water? Do you neglect the spiritual side of you? In these troubling times would it make a difference getting to know the God who made us and who has a plan for our lives?

Why not read some of Jesus’s words in the Bible and find out how to know God. Jesus said: ‘If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8v36).