Something in every human heart yearns to be free. Deep down, we desire to unlock the door, break the shackles and walk unencumbered into a limitless future.

We don’t want structures or organizations or authority figures to tell us what we can and can’t do. We want high speed access to the world and all its glorious opportunities.

Unfettered Freedom

But what happens when someone’s unfettered freedom tramples on our life and opportunities? It occurs all too often.

Whether it’s a random shooting or racial oppression, the horror of human trafficking or the abuse inflicted by an alcoholic parent, human beings have a disturbing capacity to use their God-given freedom to do unspeakable things to one another. Sadly, the abuse of freedom locks us in a prison of pain. It ties us to our perpetrators and our perpetrators to us.

Without a process for letting go of the deep hurt, there is no freedom to create a new future. We are bound to unending cycles of retaliation and inexorable pain.

A Way Out

But there is a way out. Years ago, a woman in Rwanda, Deborah Niyakabirika, faced every parent’s worst nightmare. Her son was murdered in an isolated act of ethnic vengeance.

Months after the killing, a young man visited Deborah.

“I killed your son,” he said. “Take me to the authorities and let them deal with me as they will. I have not slept since I shot him. Every time I lie down, I see you praying, and I know you are praying for me.”

Deborah answered, “You are no longer an animal, but a man taking responsibility for your actions. I do not want to add death to death.”

Deborah then made a supernatural request. “But I want you to restore justice by replacing the son you killed. I am asking you to become my son. When you visit me, I will care for you.”

Today, to his total shock, that young man is an adopted member of her household. It’s what the truth can do.

Set Free

Jesus said,

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32 (NIV)

The whole truth followed by forgiveness unbinds us from the past.

Is there any hurt that you’re carrying, any wound from the past that is still festering? Is there an angry fist inside you wanting to demand justice, satisfaction, revenge? If so, it is a prison, and you won’t be released by retaliation. 

The liberation we need most in human life is a freedom of the heart – a release from the bondage of sin, of endless grievances, and the desire for revenge. We need the truth followed by forgiveness. Only then will we be free indeed.  

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Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as the lead pastor of one of the largest United Methodist Churches in the Midwest. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role with Spiritual Leadership, Inc (SLI).

Roger now comes alongside pastors, non-profit leaders and their leadership teams as an executive coach, specializing in leadership that inspires change. As a side gig, he loves teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas.

Other passions of his include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, Krispy Kremes, and board games with family and friends. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith, Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For, and Come Back Participant Guide, all through Abingdon Press.

Now for the best part. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they live Bloomington, Illinois. God has blessed them with two adult children, a son-in-law, several tropical fish, and one adorable granddog.