SOME years ago as a passenger in a car in the United States, I heard a voice say: “Saint Christopher speaking: You’re on your own now!” St Christopher, the supposed Roman Catholic saint for travellers, had been built into a device that told the driver when he was exceeding the speed limit. It was simple and could be effective.
You will arrive at a time in life when you will say to yourself: “I’m on my own now”. There is a time when we emerge from the cocoon of home life with our parents into life on our own. Maybe you have arrived at that time or are likely to do so very shortly or are longing for the time because you want to be ‘free’. If so, what follows is for you.
Stop the world, I want to get off!
You know how it is when you step out of the house on a perfect morning, especially if you are in open countryside or by the sea. There is something cleansing—cathartic, as they say—and life feels good. But, you know how it is when everything is on top of you and you’re tired of being pressurised. The psalmist knew exactly that feeling:
“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest, Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
There are times when it is good to get away from it all and to take stock or simply to be refreshed by a new scene, good company or a good book. After all,
“What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?”
But some teenagers imagine that getting away from home will solve all of life’s problems and give freedom to do what they like, when they like. Others do this in a bad mood by having a great argument, slamming the door and determining never to go back. None of these things is wholly worthy of us, certainly not the latter.
Life is not to be escaped from but lived. It is possible to be free in seeming captivity. Paul was the Lord’s freeman although he was in prison. Freedom is a state of mind more than a state of body. It was when Israel was in the tightest of corners that the Lord said:
“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
In days gone by it was regarded as daring or exciting or desperate to elope to get married. Gretna Green was the popular place for such a marriage conducted at the famous Blacksmith’s Shop. These days, of course, there is a do-it-yourself kit called “cohabitation” or, more commonly, “living together”. In fact, of course, all of these things have been rendered less exciting because it is not unusual to have sex before marriage or altogether regardless of it.
All of these are ways of escape from God. But, unlike prisoners of war digging their way out of a concentration camp, they are not escapes into freedom. They are ways of being manacled by sin.
There is only one true escape, greater than anything else that can ever happen to us—apart, that is, from receiving eternal life at the hands of Jesus when he comes back. It is to be made free by Christ. This is called the liberty that is in Christ Jesus.
If you are seeking peace of mind and you are not baptized, consider the wisdom and joy of being set free by Christ.
But is Marriage a Form of Escape?
When asked why he wanted to marry, one young man said: ‘Well, I don’t want to spend all my life in lodgings!’ In looking at the causes for broken marriages, one often hears: ‘I got married to get away from home or from my father’ or ‘just to be myself’. You will see that all of these are selfish motives, and none of them is in any way worthy of what marriage is or of one’s prospective partner.
Starry-eyed girls have imagined themselves as princesses in a Walt Disneytype fairy castle. Boys have imagined themselves as being ‘looked after’, as though a wife was a glorified servant.
Marriage is not an escape from anything. It stands in its own right as a new and permanent relationship, in which we surrender some freedoms in order to enjoy the privilege of commitment and comfort in the confines of a unique, loving relationship.
Marriage is to be entered into for its own sake in full realisation of what it entails. There are joys and responsibilities, glorious happinesses and solemn obligations. We are not to try to take the one and shirk the other. This is why sex before marriage is so totally wrong and why cohabitation falls short of the companionship God designed.
Two people who hitherto have been independent and able to choose for themselves individually, promise to walk together with a common purpose separate from all others and without looking back.
Get it right before marriage and you are on course for keeping it right afterwards. Before marriage you are ‘on your own’ in the special sense of being entirely your own person. Marriage changes all that. It is up to you and to the partner you choose to make it a change for the better.
‘On your own now’ takes on a new meaning after marriage. It is the two of you who are marvellously on your own, free from all others and able under God’s hand to make a wonderful future in which you will never want to be alone, but always with the one you love in Christ and for him.
Think wisely and prayerfully beforehand and you will always be able to live wisely and prayerfully afterwards.