Independence Day

♫ “And the rockets’ red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night,
that our flag was still there.” ♫

Admittedly, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner was awful, but the room full of Veterans sang it a cappella with heartfelt enthusiasm. We spanned several generations of war fighters, from Vietnam to the more recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, bound by our love of God and love for our country.

July 4th is the day I commemorate my spiritual “independence day.” God meets us where we are. He met me as I was sitting at home, reflecting on the six-month long journey of seeking to know Him in the way my twin brother Roger knew Him. I came to the place of asking Jesus to come into my life as Lord and Savior. To be honest, accepting Him as Savior was easier than accepting Him as Lord! We Americans can sometimes place far too great of an emphasis on the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” aspect of freedom and fail to realize we are not free at all. I wanted to be free from the bondage brought about by sin, but I had no clue as to what God’s intended purpose was for me.

Scripture cautions us about how we use our liberty.

For you were called to freedom [KJV – liberty], brothers. Only do not use your freedom [KJV – liberty] as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13, ESV

Sadly, I was caught up in the mantra of the 60’s: “You gotta go where you wanna go, Do what you wanna do.” (The Mamas & The Papas, 1966) Those of us who study history know that mindset didn’t work out all that well. Like many Christians, I fell into the trap of thinking I was free to, like the Southwest Airlines commercial used to say, “move about the country!” It took a number of years before I understood I had been freed for a purpose. In the words of that great 20th-century spiritual leader, Bob Dylan, you Gotta Serve Somebody (1979):

“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

It took a number of years before I realized I had been saved for a purpose.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV

The Apostle Peter gives a similar admonition.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom (KJV – liberty) as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

1 Peter 2:16, ESV

In gaining our “independence” from sin, we need to acknowledge that freedom requires our submission to the leadership of the Great Shepherd of the sheep.

If I am not serving God, I am, directly or indirectly, serving the purposes of the devil. There is only one solution, and that is an end to my self-life. Oswald Chabers states it this way: “Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence” (My Utmost for His Highest). This Independence Day, consider the real freedom purchased at Calvary by the Great “Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25, ESV).

What say you, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 28 June 2024

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