A word of encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Ruthie was only 14 when she ran away from home. Her mother was a single mom, and the family attended our church. I had thought I had a sweet relationship with her daughter Ruth, but she didn’t confide in me, and I had no idea where she’d gone. Her girl friend thought it might be St. Louis. The police there were alerted, and they shortly found the child sheltered in a brothel. Thank God she had not been harmed. They brought her back to our home, and she was content to stay with us.

She’d been with us for several weeks when, one morning, I woke her up to get ready for school . She was so surly, I asked her, “What’s the trouble, dear? Aren’t you happy here? Are our rules too strict for you?”

“No,” she mumbled. “Actually I like the rules. I feel safe with them.”

“So tell me why you are so unhappy with me.”

“I’m not unhappy with you. I just don’t want to leave here. I’m just tired of trying to be my own boss.”

“Great. No time to talk now. We’ll talk when you get home from school this afternoon.”

We did talk that afternoon after school. It turned out that Ruthie had discovered that she could either choose God to be her boss, or in her struggle to find freedom, choose the bondage of sin that Jesus warned us about:

“Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul.
But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness.
If the light you think you have is really darkness,
how deep that darkness will be!
No one can serve two masters.
For you will hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and wealth [or any other idol].” — Matthew 6:22-24

When you choose the freedom of being your own boss, as Ruth learned to her sorrow, you don’t gain freedom after all. Instead, you lose your freedom and become enslaved. Jesus said, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).

This true story does have a happy ending. Ruthie finished high school and Bible college, and she and her husband served happily on the mission field. Surrendering to God’s authority gave her true freedom and great joy.

You might decide the laws against using drugs restrict your freedom. But if you exercise your “freedom” by using drugs, you may find to your horror that you are addicted; you no longer have a choice. Addiction has become your master, and a terrible taskmaster it is! That’s true no matter what form of self-expression you might choose.

The Bible warns, “Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive His approval. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you” (Romans 6:16.17).

May God help all of us to recognize when we are about to choose whom we’ll obey. May He help us to always choose Him and His loving and wise authority!