Friday, June 08, 2007

Real Freedom

Freedom… Once and For All
By Shane Stanford

The fourth of July is one of my family’s favorite holidays. My wife and I have always made the most of the birthday of our nation. One fourth, several years ago, we took our young family to Washington, D.C. to watch fireworks on the Mall. Our two oldest daughters still talk about the heat and excitement of the day. And… they always talk about how the fireworks display lit up the night into, what Juli Anna describes as, “art in the sky”. As long as I live, I will never forget how much fun we had celebrating what it means to be an American and, especially, doing so as a family.

The Fourth of July matters to me because it reminds me of freedom’s power and its cost. Our family has a long history of individuals who have served our country in the armed forces, and we are very proud of their dedication. Their commitment and willingness insures the freedom that we all, at times, take for granted.

My grandfather, a Navy man, used to say that “nothing in life is free… except God’s love”. How true! In this life, we see, time and again, the cost and struggle of freedom. We hear it in our political dialogue; we watch it in those who put their lives on the line to defend our nation; we experience it in every singing of the national anthem and in every chill of a trumpet’s note. As the inscription from Ellis Island reads, men and women yearn to be free…” and that comes with a price.

But, as I think about my grandfather’s saying, God’s love also cost something. The freedom we have in Christ also required a price. The difference is that freedom bought for eternity was paid by God through the sending of God’s son. That gift can never be fully explained. No… that kind of freedom, which is even more precious than our freedom as men and women, goes deep into our souls and releases us from a bondage that no gun, uprising or battle could resolve. No… that kind of incomprehensible freedom can only be bought through an incomprehensible love.

This Fourth of July, give thanks for what we take for granted as Americans—for our freedom to speak, pray, agree or disagree. Give thanks for those who bear the price of its burden.

But, also look upward for another independence and give thanks for the greatest freedom, whose victory has been won, once and for all… Indeed!

Happy Fourth… Blessed Freedom!

Be Salt and Light…