Declaring Independence

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When you’re in a new city with your husband working 80+ hours a week and you’re caring for a young child that doesn’t sit still long enough for you to explain what the American flag is much less freedom and the cost of obtaining it, the 4th of July seems like another ordinary day. Nothing too exciting going on. No fireworks. No great plans of a big outing. Just me and Aletheia, park hopping and dog watching. Still, I wanted to do something, however small, to celebrate the men of women that have done so much for me and this country.

So when I ran across this post, written by the father-in-law of one of my very dearest friends, I knew his suggestions for independence reflections were just the thing I needed today. He and his wife co-create books for children that teach valuable truth and life lessons. {See them here.} I really appreciated his sense of humor, cleverness, and passion for the freedom of our country as well as the freedom we’ve been given in Christ in this post. In it, he offers a few helpful suggestions for discussing unsung heroes with your family as well. I’ll re-post it for you here:

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Declaring Independence | The Story Dad

A few random thoughts about LIBERTY and INDEPENDENCE:

I’ve had the “joy” of watching as 11 of my 12 kids have gone through (or are going through) their teenage years.  All kids dream of freedom (self-government), but some crave independence more intensely, or at earlier stages, than others.  A few, like the American colonists, struggled fiercely for their liberty, firing the shot-heard-around-the-neighborhood.” Others were more like the Canadians and Australians, very diplomatic as they painstakingly helped Mother England come to realize that it would be too costly, and therefore not in her best interest, to try to maintain control of their lives forever.  Hence, commonwealths were eventually formed without conflict or casualties.  There must be a parallel here with good parenting.  Who has time or energy to micro-manage their kids lives forever?  And who wants the unending expense?  Might as well start early on to train them to be responsible, trustworthy, and capable.  Jan’s and my very best friends in the world are our adult children and their spouses.  One reason is that they are truly awesome people.  Another is that we don’t try to control them.  Makes for wonderful relationships.

Liberty is a precious thing; few would argue with that statement.  But just how precious that liberty is to someone can only be known by how much  one is willing to sacrifice in order to attain or retain it.  Many of us have gorged ourselves at liberty’s buffet table while someone else has picked up the tab.  I never had to fight to gain my freedom.  Today, as I throw a frisbee with my 9-year-old at a beautifully spacious public park, I’ll probably be wondering what I would be willing to sacrifice to retain my liberty.  When I take the time to ponder such things, I feel gratitude, not only to the George Washingtons, Ethan Allens, Thomas Jeffersons, and Patrick Henrys, but also the little-known heroes like James Armistead, Oscar Marion, Nancy Morgan Hart, and Hercules Mulligan.  (Suggestion: Do a search for “Unsung heroes of the American Revolution” and you’ll find plenty of short stories to read as a family.)

The worst tyranny I’ve been oppressed by has come from within me.  So has the greatest freedom.  I know full well the truth that “you are a slave to the one you choose to obey” (Romans 6:16).  I usually don’t refer to “The Message” (a paraphrase of the Bible), but in this case I think it expresses what Paul was saying (and what I’ve experienced) very well:“So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in hisfreedom!” (Romans 6:15-18)

The Declaration of Independence is an amazing work of many gifted minds and a very skillful writer (Jefferson) who expressed the sentiments of the document’s 56 signers eloquently using 1337 words.  But I am even more profoundly influenced by another Declaration made over 1700 years earlier by my ultimate Hero.  Jesus Christ declared that I am free from the sin that once dominated my actions, my thoughts, my choices.  He made it brief and very clear: “When I set you free, you are really, really free” (John 8:32).  I am really free!  Sometimes I forget what my freedom means – what my freedom cost Him – and I temporarily go back to paying tribute to the old tyrant.  How dumb is that?!  And so unnecessary!  I am free to live as a full-fledged citizen in a new land of liberty, governed by goodness, kindness, love, gentleness, humility, self-control, and countless other refreshing, life-giving principles.  If I may quote from my own book, What Do Heroes Wear?…

“Of history’s heroes, above all the rest, my thoughts turn to Jesus.  How was He dressed?  In bright fancy uniforms?  Hardly.  Instead, sharp painful thorns were pressed on His head.  And placed on His shoulders, instead of brass stars, were undeserved bruises and horrible scars.  These were the ‘work clothes’ for which He was fitted; payment for sins that He never committed.  With unrivaled love these sorrows He braved, giving His life so the world could be saved…And by His example new courage I find to make thoughtful choices with others in mind.  With Christ as my trainer I’m starting to see, what I wear, what I do, isn’t all about me.”

When I pause to remember this, the fireworks go off inside me!

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3 comments

  1. Wow. That’s great. I have never read that passage in Romans in the msg, but–Wow!

    1. I was blown away by it too! Thankful the author included it in that particular translation. Really drives it home!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment. So sweet 🙂

  2. PS and that photo! Beautiful 🙂

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