Sunday School Lessons

Wide Open Spaces

Have you ever been trapped?  Maybe your arm or foot got stuck in something that you were working on, or your car got stuck in a muddy rut.  When that happens, our world shrinks, doesn’t it?  We look around and call out for something to help us get out of a jam, but until we get free (or get another ride), we can only access the world as far as we can reach or shout, or as far as we can walk.

I think that being in the dark has a similar effect when we’re in an unfamiliar place.  Afraid to move too quickly (lest we step into a hole, or – worse yet – on toys), we must feel around cautiously, and our world is small, being limited to what we can detect with our other senses.

It’s not just physical constraints that hem us in, though.  Financial debt, overwhelming personal obligations, and oppressive rules can keep us from spreading our wings in freedom.  Another major restraint that binds us is sin: when we act against God’s instructions, not only are we separated from the holiness of the infinite God, but we often find ourselves limited by the consequences of sin, whether we work to hide it, or we pay the price for what we did, or we find our joy limited by guilt.  Evil forces don’t care about our good.  They are happy when sin enslaves us.

Consider these words of David:

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
2 Samuel 22:20 NIV
https://2samuel.bible/2-samuel-22-20

I’m not sure exactly what situation David had in mind when he wrote this, but I imagine him being pressured on every side, with concerns ranging from those who were trying to capture or kill him, to attending to the needs of his soldiers and family.  He hid in a cave when Saul was pursuing him (see 1 Samuel 22:1-2, as well as Psalm 57 and Psalm 142), and for someone used to the wide open spaces of being a shepherd, this must have been a challenge.  (Remember when he longed for water from a certain well, in 2 Samuel 23:13-17 and 1 Chronicles 11:15-19?)  Even as king, he would have had to concern himself with the welfare of an entire nation.  “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”, we might say, but the burden of leadership is indeed a great weight to bear.  I wonder if David felt cooped up even in his palace.  (Maybe this restlessness was what got him into trouble in 2 Samuel 11.)

Regardless of the context for this passage, though, being free from unnecessary burdens and limitations is how I think of this “spacious place” that David described.  Whether physical or mental, literal or figurative, God had given David the freedom of walking in open places again, and David praised God for that.

When we are stuck or in the dark, and our world seems really, really small (like being stuck at home during a pandemic!), we need to remember that we serve the God of the wide open spaces.  After all, He not only created the open fields and the rolling countryside; He created the entire universe.  Even the new Jerusalem is described as being enormous in Revelation 21:15-16.

Even greater than physical or mental freedom, though, is spiritual freedom.  As ugly as it is to be in slavery to sin, God’s freedom from our sins is that much better.  Jesus didn’t come to curtail our ability to live freely; He came to bring freedom (see Luke 4:14-21), and verses like Galatians 5:1 (see below) and 2 Corinthians 3:17 remind us about that freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 NIV

https://galatians.bible/galatians-5-1

So, if you feel trapped today, I hope that you will find true liberation from whatever currently limits you.  You might still be stuck in a small apartment, cubicle, or even a literal cell, but the God of wide open spaces can deliver your soul into freedom.


From Sunday School Lesson for June 20, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, June 20, 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel, by James E. Smith.  College Press Publishing Company, © 2000, p.427-430.

2 thoughts on “Wide Open Spaces”

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