Our flag at the Nichols’ Nest is waving in the breezes this morning. While it waves, I can hear “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and “God Bless America.” (Musicians are like that – every scene has its own soundtrack.)
As we celebrate the birth of our nation today, a nation committed to freedom, I was a bit alarmed at this morning’s news. I listened to a Syrian man supporting his family on the equivalent of three dollars a day stating that he does not remember a day in his life without war. I flinched at the report of North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, and I was saddened to see the seemingly lifeless, uniform faces of their uniformed, military personnel marching in perfect synchronicity down a city street. They live under the tyranny of darkness and ignorance with no thought life could be better. They do not know what they do not know.
This morning as I’m pondering the price and privilege of freedom, I am also remembering an April morning in 2012 when we were on a Peace and Justice Pilgrimage to Israel. The time we spent at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, had already left me wordlessly silent. And then we were on to Bethlehem where we had to leave our Jewish guide at the entrance to the town because he could not cross the Line. Just a few yards away as we drove across the Line, we were joined by our Palestinian Christian guide who could not cross to the other side. Then a walk through a Palestinian Refugee camp left the images of the children in the bullet-ridden ghetto, children who have not a blade of grass to play on or a library to visit. Their creative expressions come in the form of freedom-desiring graffiti on a divisive wall. They only dream of freedom never having tasted it.
Freedom brings so many privileges so easily ignored. I am grateful for our Founding Fathers who birthed a nation where freedom rings and resonates—freedom FROM life experiences we’d gratefully avoid. I am free to read books of my choice, to express my thoughts, to worship where I choose, to ride down any highway and so much more. And I am free to wave our flag and thank those who made my freedom possible. Let freedom ring and echo the names of those who have paid and continue to pay the price for my freedom!
There is another kind of freedom—the kind our Father gives that frees our spirits. He also frees us FROM some experiences we do not want, AND He frees us FOR life experiences that have eternal implications. Celebrate your soul’s freedom, and maybe ponder just for a moment what YOU are free FROM and FOR today.