Tomorrow is Independence Day, July 4, 2020. It is a day that represents freedom in our great country. Freedom - A big word. Especially right now. The word freedom evokes a variety of emotions from a wide range of people. There are many symbols that represent the hard fought freedom that we are able to enjoy here in the United States, but the Statue of Liberty seems to embody the dream of Freedom. A few years ago I was able to see the Statue of Liberty, not for the first time, but in a fresh way. In reflection I wrote the following:
"As I looked across the bay, I saw the Statue of Liberty and was reminded of a trip 20 years earlier. It was just a few months before our daughter Nicole went to Heaven. One of Nicole's dreams had been to go to NYC, and because we were working near there, we were able to spend some time in the city.
We visited many of the typical tourist sites, including taking the ferry ride out to see the Statue of Liberty.
In those days, we were able to go inside the Statue and had the privilege of ascending the many stairs that led up to her crown. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so glad that we were able to do it with Nicole.
There is an inscription written on the Statue's base, and the first part of it says:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free."
Yearning to breathe free.
Are you yearning to breathe free?
I know that I am. Fortunately, for most of us reading this, because of the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, we live in a country where we are physically free. We have luxuries that a good portion of the world doesn't. So we should be the happiest people on the earth, right?
Sadly, often we not only take our physical freedom for granted, but also live inwardly as prisoners of discontent, anxiety and depression.
Isaiah 61:1 Says that Jesus would be sent to earth to
bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
When Jesus walked here, the people were slaves to Rome, and they thought that Jesus came to free them physically, but he was here to free their souls. You could say that he came here to allow their spirits to "breathe free." That kind of freedom transcends any of our physical conditions and circumstances.
I know that there are days that I forget that I have been given the gift of freedom. It is almost like the grief and pain gets trapped inside of me, and I have to remind myself to breathe in freedom and strength. That is where freedom lies - my choice to breathe out all the sorrow and pain and then breathe in the healing and restoration that only God can bring.
In the song Run Wild by King & Country it says:
"You're a lion full of power who forgot how to roar.
You're an eagle full of beauty, but you can't seem to soar.
Will you return to the garden where you were first made whole?
Will you turn to the one who can liberate your soul….."
These words are still applicable today. Maybe even more so as our country struggles to find her footing. I have to remind myself everyday that I can choose where my focus lies. Only God has the power to liberate my soul - to grant true freedom, even in the midst of the turmoil around me.