Agawam, MA, circa 1997- the monumental moment when I chose to play flute in the middle school band. My teacher seemed to think I was a natural, and my parents splurged to purchase that elegant silvery beauty.
“Blow into the flute like you’re trying to spit rice.” (A fine analogy, for those who are accustomed to rice spitting. Is this some kind of carnival game most people are familiar with?)
But I played well, in all my fifth grade zeal, when I actually took the time to practice. Here’s a roughly fifth grade picture to bring you into better focus.
And then came the announcement that jazz band would be starting up…but it turns out flutists weren’t invited. If you played any brass instrument, or maybe a sax or trombone- you were good to go. But a flute…well…that simply wasn’t jazz material.
My memory is fuzzy, but I must have vented my disappointment to my classroom teacher. He was one of my favorites- a balding red-headed Jewish man who spent Friday afternoons pulling out his guitar and singing us songs like “One Tin Soldier” and “Why Must I be a Teenager in Love”. One day he pulled me aside, oozing optimism, to tell me the name of a popular jazz flutist- I think he even wrote it down for me. What was his point? “Just because there’s not a spot for you as a ‘jazz flutist’ in the fifth grade band, doesn’t mean you can’t be one.” (Of course this was long before I watched the ultimate Jazz Flutist, Ron Burgundy. 😉 )
Jazz is a music defined not by instrument but by soul- flute or trumpet…doesn’t matter…what you breathe into that instrument makes all the difference.
I’ve been thinking more and more about women’s equality- something I grew up thinking we had all but achieved. I’m realizing there’s a vast chasm between where we are and true equality, and unfortunately the Church has helped perpetuate that chasm. I should clarify..I’m not oppressed in my church- far from it- in fact it is here in my church that I’m finally learning to become freer. But I believe there’s more.
Here’s what I’m beginning to see: gender equality isn’t merely about equal rights or opportunities for women. No. It’s a journey to remember Eden and restore the value of a women alongside of men. It’s a desire to understand how men (God’s creation/instrument) and women (also God’s creation/instrument) were made to work together in harmony. It’s a quest to know that the Spirit or breath of God in me, in this instrument, is no different from the Spirit or breath of God in a masculine instrument. It’s the BREATH that matters.
It’s the growing belief that embracing my full identity as a co-heir with Christ is not selfish- it’s not simply about my liberation, but the freedom of many. For as I rise- free- I no longer limit the call, the influence, the plan that God may have for me. None of us can know the awesome scope of adventure God has for us if we’re limiting ourselves based on human traditions and values. (Or the fifth grade band teacher, as it were.)
As each of us, men and women alike, are freed from restraints of brokenness and human tradition, we rise free to liberate others. People say that “hurt people, hurt people” but as Christina Cleveland said once, “Free people, free people.” Liberated people, liberate people. You can’t walk in the full liberation of the cross of Christ without impacting those around you.
And that liberation is abundant.
You are as free as God says you are- and if Christ has set you free from the law of sin and death, from the curse of the Garden, then you are free indeed. Walk boldly in your freedom because your influence is not determined by a title, by what other “creations” define for you, but by your identity in God and the good works He’s prepared in advance for you.
What do you need to be freed from to walk forward boldly into what God may be calling you to? Invite God to simply breathe into you as His instrument and create the soulful notes that only He can. Then ask yourself, “As I walk free, who am I meant to liberate?”
Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
John 8:36: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Romans 8:1-2: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.
Hebrews 2:10-11: In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Acts 2:17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’
(New International Version (NIV)
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