God bless, it’s “Murica” time!
Come on out and wave those banners and flags! Pull out the graphic tee, gather with the Fam, and find a spot on the grass for the annual fireworks display! Let freedom ring from the mountains to the prairies— if only for a day.
I can’t say much about what I knew as a child regarding freedom’s call or price but I surely knew the taste of it. The occasional family gathering at my grandmothers or the local lake seasons my memory with bluefish on the grill, some meat on the whining spit and lot’s of running wild in all directions. Sparklers and fireflies and the nylon-webbed aluminum chairs that clanked together as we took our place on the blanket spread before them. There the musky scent of rotting apples at the base of the tree, some sulphur and magnesium wafting through the air, blended together with the sharp smell of OFF! mosquito spray.
This only happened a handful of times but in my soul I felt cared for, loved and strangely free as I sat with my childhood family eating and watching the bursts of color spread over the sky above and rain down in streams of light. I could relax in their presence if only for a moment. On that day, we were a family. We were Americans… citizens of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But the truth of the matter is that none of us was then truly as free as we could get. Not yet.
It has made me ask: how free is free? How free can you get? Is freedom based on where you’re born? Where you live and work? What your passport or driver’s license says? Is freedom based on a document? A constitution? A pledge, a vow or a good score on a citizenship test?
No doubt there are some places in the world where documents hold the key to our freedom and security. Those of us born into a world where this is never questioned cannot truly understand the inner workings of the heart and mind of those for whom this has never been true. However, we owe every bit of our understanding to the ones who came before us, making the journey from wherever it was and deciding to walk towards the light of the freedom they dreamed could be a reality. A “leave your kin, ticket-punched” kind of freedom purchased, no doubt, using all the guts and courage anyone could ever imagine. Fought for in various ways on various battle fronts both public and private, foreign and domestic, we live life in a “better country” someone else fought for…. and likely died for.
But is freedom an address? Is it simply where we get our mail? How free can you get? Is there still a freedom worth fighting for, sacrificing for, and on many levels, dying for?
Considering the past, the present and the future, I am grateful to know that the Holy Spirit has revealed a greater freedom in my life. The moments of celebration in my childhood were brief, sweet and precious few— shining against the backdrop of deep dysfunction and abuse. The family-styled celebrations of these moments in our nation’s collective history that provided these private highlights grow strangely dim in the light of that singular moment at the age of 12 or 13, when God revealed himself to me through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and showed me how to begin the walk of True freedom.
I was a child when it began. I spoke as a child and understood things through the eyes, mind and worldview of an American-born child. But now I’m grown… I’m growing… and I know that whatever rights and privileges I’ve ever known have only been granted to me in order to serve the cause of the Greatest Freedom there is as a citizen of Heaven. No matter where in the future I may get my mail, I am grateful for the representative flag and banner I’ve been privileged to live under all my life but most especially, for the freedom it purchased so that the REAL FREEDOM I’ve come to know through Jesus as a result— can frame and foundation my life and future choices. It’s as free as one can get here on Earth at any address, in any capacity.
Free from guilt.
Free from sin.
Free from the demons of the past within.
Free from pain.
Free from loss.
Purchased by Christ’s heavenward cross.
This time next year, we will be living in another place where the 4th of July will merely be a date on the calendar. It will feel weird and bittersweet on some levels. Will we still celebrate? Most certainly. Because while our citizenship won’t change on earth we will still have reason to celebrate our freedom in Christ for, at the end of it all… it’s the only freedom that counts.
How free are you? Freedom is no small matter because God says so. I am compelled to remember the many times I’ve flown across the continent or ocean hoping to shed some light for myself, but also for others in the name of the Gospel. Each time, the safety speech given about the oxygen mask procedure grabs me. I don’t ever want to use it! But it’s also the part where we’re told to secure our masks first ….then do so for another. Likewise, with our freedom in Christ. Once our freedom is secure, we must do all we can to secure it for another.
Here. There. Everywhere.
This is the freedom worth celebrating 24-7-365