Land of the Free

Blog – 7-3-19
 
 
As we celebrate America’s birthday tomorrow here in the land of the free, I can’t help but feel a huge sense of gratitude for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much so we can live in freedom. We all know that freedom isn’t free, yet I wonder how often we take that freedom for granted.
 
When I went on a mission trip to Vietnam last year, my eyes were opened to how incredibly blessed we are to live in the good old USA. In Vietnam I saw beautiful landscapes that were covered in garbage. I saw extreme poverty everywhere I looked. I saw people living in fear. I saw people doing their very best to simply survive. I saw people neglected and unable to afford the most basic human needs, like a wheelchair.
 
To say that it was a life-changing experience is an understatement. We distributed 250 wheelchairs for Hope Haven, International, and we radically changed lives with the simple gift of mobility. My heart broke over and over again as I heard their tragic stories of having little to no access to any type of healthcare.
 
As I reflect on that experience over a year later, I realize how quickly I’ve gotten back into old habits of forgetting how precious freedom truly is. The Bible has some beautiful teachings on this subject:
 
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
Galatians 5:13-15 (MSG)
 
I realize as I read these words that the reason my trip to Vietnam was so powerful and life-changing is because I was using my freedom, freedom they could only dream about, to serve in love. When we serve one another in love, freedom grows. This idea is extremely counter-culture to our “it’s-all-about-me” society, but I have experienced this truth firsthand and know it is absolutely irrefutable. God loves us freely, and we live in freedom when we freely share that love with others.
 
Loving others is, indeed, the true act of freedom; and that’s exactly the life God has called each of us to.
 
Questions I believe we all must ask ourselves are, “Am I living in true freedom? Am I using the freedom I have in Christ to serve others, or am I using freedom as an excuse to do what I want?”
 
These are hard questions, questions that we will answer yes to some days and no to some days. But as we celebrate the political freedom we have in this country tomorrow, I invite you to look at your freedom in Christ from this perspective, a perspective of love.
 
I think it would do all of us good to heed the warning in the final verse as well, “in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Wow, if that isn’t a wake-up call. Just turn on the news or look at social media, and it sure feels like we are busy in the biting and ravaging side of things right now, not the loving and lifting up.
 
So eat those hot dogs, enjoy a day off, spend time with friends and family, watch those amazing fireworks tomorrow. Celebrate freedom! And in the midst of the celebration, remind yourself that true freedom grows when you love others well!
 
And my God richly bless this wonderful land of the free!
 
Hugs and love,
 
Jill

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