Freedom...........have you ever thought about the definition of Freedom??? It is the condition of being free.........unrestricted access........political independence......liberty. Can you imagine living in a country other than our wonderful USA? Can you imagine not having the freedom to say what you want and/or when you want to express an idea? Can you imagine if you could not do you want to do, or go to the places that you need to go to each day, or not being able to enjoy every day as a "free" person? Wow, that is unimaginable to me. I am so grateful for our freedom, for our country, and for the liberty to do what I please most of the time and within reason.
We are very blessed in the USA and I would like for us to think about the challenge of freedom. What is freedom for? To do as we please, live where we want to live, change jobs because we want to "better ourselves" or is there a higher reason we enjoy freedom? I love to go for a bicycle ride when I have time, or take my dog for a walk each day. I love to work hard each day. I love to plan for vacations and dream for the future. I enjoy going to different restaurants and finding places to have some fun that are different than I have tried or experienced before, but have I ever really thought about the fact that our freedom is not free? There has been a cost to our freedom and liberty over the 200 years of our existance in the United States....our forefathers fought to have this country become what it has become. Our Declaration of Independence came at a price. A very high price. We defend our constitution every day in many ways through our political system and our local communities, but have we ever really realized how much that costs to have those liberties??? Love for freedom and love for this great country was a vital reason why our soldiers fought during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Bosnia, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the current war in Afghanistan - the war on Terror. (Forgive me if I missed one of the important ones.) Our freedom has come at a very high price. But, what is freedom really for? Pope John Paul II famously said: "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." Think about that for a minute..........are there times when doing what we "ought" gets ruled out because we want to do something selfishly just for ourselves? Sure, we are all human. And, there are certainly times I have done that in my life. But, when I think about it most of the time, I treasure my freedom and value the price that was paid for me by many people I have never known or will ever meet.
I have the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most incredible military people in the USA who serve in the Kansas National Guard, Army Reserves, Air Force, Marines, Navy, US Coast Guard and Active Duty Soldiers at Ft. Leavenworth, Ft. Riley and McConnell AFB. As I mingle with these incredible human beings, I am humbled to the core of my being that they are willing to fight for my freedom every day. Their families are torn apart for various times as they deploy to regions around the world to defend our freedom. I am truly grateful that they make this sacrifice for me. I also had the privilege of sitting next to a Gold Star Mom at a recent Army Birthday dinner. A Gold Star Mom is one who has lost a loved one...............it was very sad in some ways, but very beautiful in other ways. Part of the ceremony for the Army Birthday dinner is to honor the Fallen Soldier. And, as you can imagine, tears were streaming down her face and many others including mine, as they saluted the Fallen. At the end of the dinner, there was another ceremony to dismantle the table for the Fallen Soldier, so one by one, the helmet, gun, boots and rose were taken off the table and guarded by procession out of the room by the Color Guard. Again, there was not a dry eye in the room. It was extremely moving and I was touched by the woman who became my acquaintance during the evening festivities. It was truly an honor to meet her and share dinner with her. I admire her courage for being at the dinner to honor her son despite her grief. We are all privileged to be here in the USA thanks to our military men and women who serve every day. I hope that each of us pause and think about our freedom this 4th of July. It is a gift. Truly a gift.
Over 2,000 years ago Christ paid the ultimate price for our freedom. He gave his life for us. If you have accepted Jesus Christ in your heart and asked Him to be Lord over your life, then you know what a price was paid. If not, have you thought about what a huge price was paid for us and why? LOVE............that is the reason we were bought at a price. Love that is beyond measure and unconditional. Love that goes to the end of the earth to fight for you and for me. Love that is eternal, everlasting and omnipotent.
If it is possible, I hope that my life will be a service to God so that I may serve others through love, friendship, laughter and joy each day and take the time to thank our Heavenly Father for the privilege of being His child. I hope that I won't always partake in self-indulgence and that as I realize the price that was paid for me that I will give back a small portion of what has been given to me without me even knowing it. And, I pray that our country will realize what price was paid for the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the freedom we experience every day in the USA.
St. Paul wrote to the Galations this thought:
"You were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love." (Galations 5:13)
I pray that as you celebrate the 4th of July - our Independence Day in the United States, that you will pause and give thanks for all that we have here and all the God has given us through His son.
What a gift...............what an incredible gift!!!