I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119: 45
Today is July 4th! I love what this day represents! I love our country and am so grateful for the freedom we have enjoyed throughout our lives. I love history and have many great memories of teaching the Declaration of Independence, listening to students recite it from memory with such pride that they could do so, and the discussions we would have on the boldness and courage of these early Americans who longed for freedom. I so appreciated the opportunity to teach them about the foundations of our government through the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
I loved their excitement as they learned the meaning of patriotism and sang along to “The Sons of Liberty” song in the movie, Johnny Tremain, and as they discovered the significance of the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” as the brave soldiers watched to see if our flag remained flying at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. And I especially loved their enthusiasm as they sang “The Battle of New Orleans” and learned about the other battles fought on our own soil and abroad to ensure our liberties and those of others throughout the world. I so enjoyed reading and sharing stories with them about the dream and desire of others to come to this great land because of the freedom and opportunities they could experience.
I hope I instilled some pride and love for our country. I hope they remember some of the lessons we learned. But more than anything, I hope they remember that this freedom came at a great price – so many men and women who loved this country and sacrificed so much to give us the liberties we have today. So many lives given so we might continue to live as we do. It’s difficult to comprehend that so many people around the world will never know the blessing of having this freedom – a gift we so often take for granted and don’t stop to appreciate enough.
But even more heartbreaking is the thought that so many don’t know and will never understand the freedom they can have in Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “Let me set you free. And if I set you free, you are absolutely free through and through.” John 8:36 paraphrased)
It is difficult to understand this gift, this freedom, unless you have experienced it , and I have, and am so grateful for it – freedom from being held captive to anger, regret, disappointment, shame, fear, pride, grief, and even pain. For in Him there is strength, hope, comfort, peace, and His all-consuming love. Such a freedom in knowing that He is with us as we go through difficult times, and freedom to know that we don’t have to worry about the future and what lies ahead, no matter how uncertain or frightening it might seem. I know His truths and the life I can have in Him. I know how we can find rest in His love and grace when our souls become weary and burdened.
What freedom to place our lives in His hands and know that He will always carry us through and even give us contentment and joy. We are reminded that this freedom too came at a cost of great sacrifice as God gave His Son for us. We can and “will walk about in freedom” because of His great love for us. On this day, may we not only give Him honor and praise for our country, but even more, may we be grateful for the gift of His grace.
Dear God, how can we ever thank you enough for the blessings we have had in this great nation? Today we celebrate the freedom and opportunities we have each and every day, but even more, may we appreciate the life we have in you. We thank you for your presence in our lives and for the freedom to let go of so many constraints that could control us if not for your love and grace. We praise your most holy name. Amen