This is the first 4th of July when I am not giddy about fireworks, picnics, and parades. I grew up in the Washington DC area, was born in DC in fact. The 4th of July was a big deal. The Bicentennial was even bigger. Even when I moved to North Carolina, Independence Day was special, full of small town parades of children on bicycles and dogs pulling Red Ryder wagons, fireworks at the fairgrounds and watermelon eating contests at the State Farmers’ Market. But here I am a week shy of our country’s birthday and I’m anxious about our country, our freedom and what lies ahead. Hard times for those of us who love America and hate to see it in turmoil. I long for peace. We all do.
Thank goodness for this post assignment to think about freedom in terms of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the ultimate freedom fighter who died to set us free from sin, worry, hatred, fear, and a host of other things swirling in and around us. In return, we are promised peace.
So, here is my pondering of FREEDOM by the letter and that promised peace.
F for Faith in God to get us through the hard times.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1
Right now, our family has been hit by life’s challenges in a big way. Illness, unemployment, mental stress. But we know God wants the best for us regardless of what the world delivers. There is peace in the knowing.
R for Rest from our labors.
So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. ~Genesis 2:3
No matter if you are caregiving, calling senators, job hunting, gardening, studying or working a 9 to 5 job, you need rest. Jesus took a break just as His Father did. Rest is essential to the body, mind, and soul. With rest, the possibility of peace becomes stronger.
E for Equality.
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
No matter who we are, the world defines us by gender, race, sexuality or economic status. But according to scripture, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves us. Jesus loves us. There is freedom to be who we are and at peace with our limitations because of Jesus Christ, his example, and teachings. That peace allows us to accept others for who they are too.
E for Eternal.
But those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” ~John 4:14
I’ve always loved the analogy of water and thirst, especially in a summer already hitting over 100 degrees in many places. The peace and eternal life we long for beyond the toil of this one can be satisfied by Jesus. We can try to find it other ways but, for me, Jesus is what I need to find peace.
D for Do Not Worry.
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ~Matthew 6:34
This has been one of my verses for as long as I can remember. I even had it on my car license plate for a while. Jesus doesn’t promise us freedom from worry forever but gives us peace knowing we only need face our worries one day at a time. If you are having trouble here, go back and read F again!
O for Overcome.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:21
We were in Ireland recently and while there, the Manchester and Boroughs Market bombings occurred in England. We’d had the television off the first week but kept it on the second as our daughter and son-in-law were honeymooning in London and Germany. Yikes. Being next door to the tragedy availed us of all day coverage, full of stories of those who put their own lives as risk for others, some dying while they did so. When I have trouble getting up in the morning or get angry at the evil in the world, I remember those folks and try to do something, no matter how small, to make the world better for the day. I claim a bit of peace in those moments.
M for Mercy.
There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” ~Matthew 20:30
We can’t find freedom by ourselves. Nor can we find peace without help. These days when the darkness is overwhelming, I remember I have the freedom to ask Jesus for help. No conditions. No requirements. I don’t have to sit and wait for things to get better. “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy” is my prayer when I don’t know what to pray. Again, Jesus answers and gives me peace.