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Friday, July 3, 2015

When Freedom Doesn't Require Fireworks

This weekend, all of America will be lining sidewalks, gathering in backyards, and amassing in large, open (hopefully damp and nonflammable) spaces, to celebrate our freedom. Kids will be scurrying to round up candy thrown from parade floats, neighbors will host BBQs, and community members will collectively “oooh” and “aaah” over fireworks displays.

I absolutely love Independence Day. As a child, the Fourth meant swimming in my grandparents’ pool, eating a hot dog or two, then lighting off fireworks in the field across the street from their house. It’s a parking lot now, but it was a decent-sized field back then. It meant spending time with my cousin Brooke, who I loved (and still love) so dearly, and screaming together with each snap and pop of a bottle rocket.

After I married a soldier, I began to understand freedom in a new way. You hear the phrase “freedom isn’t free” all the time, but when your family is one that pays the price for it, you begin to truly understand the cost. Upon looking into the eyes of a woman whose husband paid the ultimate price, well, you pray freedom could come a little bit cheaper.

Now that I’m a Christ follower, freedom has once again taken on new meaning. Freedom now means things I once feared, or hurtful things I held on to, no longer get to control my life. I’m free of things that held me captive because I trust in God’s plan for me. This doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of stuff; it simply means that I allow my faith to overcome fear when it pops up. It also doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly become perfect, but that I have the choice to be like Jesus, or to be like Becky. And y’all, you’d rather meet Jesus. I promise.

As a recovering People Pleaser, I’ve found a huge sense of relief in worrying about what makes God happy instead of what makes others more comfortable. I can’t even begin to describe how freeing it is to concern myself with God instead of busying myself with things that don’t honor Him. Not always easy, but definitely freeing.

The song “Amazing Grace” has a beautiful line:
My chains are gone,
I’ve been set free
My God, my savior has ransomed me

I love this, because there’s so much truth spoken in a simple way. Jesus’ death and resurrection breaks the chain of sin and frees us from it. Once we hold that in our hearts, we’re free in a new way.  Our hearts are no longer captive slaves to the things that kept us from Him. My favorite part about this is that Jesus doesn’t require us to be perfect before we come to Him, but that He comes to us wherever we are. He frees us! We don’t have to try and liberate ourselves!

This weekend, as The United States celebrates its independence from England, I’ll be rejoicing, too. I’ll eat my hot dog, gather with friends, and snuggle with my kids as the fireworks explode around us. I’ll also say a prayer of thanksgiving for the freedom that rescued my soul, for the chains that have been broken, and for the gift of heaven.

 The freedom we experience here in the United States is beautiful. We have the ability to do (or not do) just about anything we want. But, as I am still learning, the freedom we find in knowing Jesus and living for Him is beyond description and isn’t confined to the borders of this precious country.

**I’m curious! What is one way your relationship with Jesus has freed you this year?**

My answer is definitely being a God Pleaser instead of a People Pleaser.

I’d love to read your responses in the comments box below!! 

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