Happy Independence Day!
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a day off from work. Especially knowing what the next 8 days of work hold—travel to the west coast and meetings that begin at 5:00 am each day. But please don’t read that as a complaint–I am free to work to provide for my family; I am very grateful for this.
It’s been a strange day. A day of equal parts joy and discouragement. Joy in watching the ordained process of adoption. Joy in answered prayer. Discouragement in written words. Discouragement in the pull toward despair and toward things I’ve not had the pull towards in over a year, maybe two years. There is much discouragement in that.
But tonight as I sit alone (everyone is out with friends)—more to fill the emptyness than anything else—I’ve taken a close look at freedom. Our freedom as citizens of the United States. Our freedom as citizens of Heaven.
I’ll admit it, I’m not hugely patriotic. I love my country. I love the freedom she stands for. But I don’t usually get too excited over the 4th of July—dressing up in red, white and blue and joining huge thrones of people to watch fireworks. Especially now that my crew is older and would rather light off fireworks themselves (Oh, if we only still lived in Hawaii–we had some GREAT 4th of July parties there. Complete and utter conflagrations.)
But I’d say I’m a bit more appreciative of it this year. For one reason, I’m reading Eric Metaxas’ book “7 Men” and just finished the chapter on George Washington today. There is so much I didn’t know about the beginning of our country, and I have a newfound awe over what our forefathers endured when the USA was still a struggling infant trying to survive.
Another reason is the scripture work I’ve done on Galatians 5:1 tonight. It states:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. This verse is speaking about the Jewish ceremonial laws and regulations. But I think it can also relate to today. Especially when we look at the second part of the verse.
When we become believers in Christ, He sets us free from the law, from sin and from death. True freedom! But this verse comes with a warning: do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Before we become believers in Christ, we are under a yoke of slavery to our selfish and sinful ways. They overpower us. For some of us, they almost took our lives. Then Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins, sets us free from these things! This is not nothing.
But….and I know this full well…..it is easy to submit again to the yoke of slavery. To fall back into our sinful behaviors. To fight against the same things we fought against (or didn’t fight against, but willing gave in to!) before our lives were set free! I have experienced this today, out of the blue. And it is discouraging. It brings on a sense of failure, even though by God’s grace I have not failed in those areas today.
It kind of reminds me of the story of Jesus healing the man in John 5. He asked the man:
And I have to ask myself the same thing–or maybe my Jesus is asking me—“Do I want to be healed? Do I want to be well?” Oh, that the answer to this question would always be a resounding “Yes!” But sometimes in my immature selfishness, I sinfully answer “No”; and I know that grieves Him. It grieves me.
But here is what has encouraged me: right smack dab in the middle of this verse is the phrase “stand firm therefore”. It’s the same variation of my theme phrase “Stand Fast” (1 Thess. 3:8). It’s not there by mistake. It’s meant to spur us on to be steadfast in our freedom, like God is steadfast in His love. The two are not unrelated.
So, on this 4th of July, 2013, I will fight to stand fast. I will fight to appreciate freedom both in this country and the freedom that God grants me; grants us. Tomorrow I will fight to not sinfully hide, but to create a fun day for my crew and end it with a fun day with friends who have graciously invited us to their home.
It is for freedom that Christ has set me free!