Independence Day Every Day
By Missey Butler
- I can honestly say I never knew the real meaning of freedom.
I thought I knew what it meant because I am "American made."
I was born and raised in the United States of America
like those 'amber waves of grain'. I would stand tall and proud
while abiding under the mighty banner of the red, white, and blue!
I loved apple pie and hot dogs. As a high school majorette, I
faithfully twirled my baton in many Fourth of July parades. My
family would beam with pride as they waved their sparklers under
the evening sky. The illuminated showers of cascading fireworks
I would stand proud, shoulder to shoulder, with my fellow patriots
at the baseball park, straining through the heartfelt stanzas
of the "Star-Spangled Banner". I was always quick to
place my hand over my heart while nudging my brother to remove
his cap as the national anthem was beginning to play.
My heart still swells with pride and my eyes get a little glassy
at the sight of our flag waving in the breeze. I am, for the most
part, one of the ones who sings the loudest when reaching the
part about 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'.
The bottom line was that I could no longer shake the feelings
of contradiction nor the whispers of hypocrisy that seemed to
mock me and my supposed claim to liberty. So I decided to embark
on my own private search to find the missing key that would unlock
the chains that held me captive.
One of the advantages of sitting under good biblical teaching
was that early on, I learned about three major forces that make
it their business to ensure that you and I never find out about
our God-given spiritual heritage. These diabolical enemies are
the world, the flesh, and the devil.
I want to share with you my own recent battle in winning this
fight for my spiritual freedom. You see, I struggled with a desire
to own many of the pretty things I saw. I believe the biblically
correct term for this would be that I am sometimes strongly influenced
by the lust of the eyes. I had a desire to covet things that did
not belong to me.
I would often think, Maybe it's just a woman thing --
you know, part of that whole nesting instinct ladies seem to
have. The only problem was I wanted my nest to look the best!
Therein lies the problem.
I spent much of my time and energy (not to mention my pocketbook)
at modern-day temples known as malls. Many people worshipped there
religiously, as shown by endless, frivolous spending (myself included).
I was returning home from one of those shopping sprees, when
my attention was drawn to a one-line message displayed on a local
church sign. I hesitated to read it because I knew from past experience
that many times what was written on one of those marquees would
zap me with conviction. My eyes insisted on looking, so my heart
had no other choice but to reluctantly follow. The words were
simple, but they really packed a punch. What it said was life
"IT COSTS TOO MUCH TO BE OUT OF THE CENTER OF GOD'S WILL."
Wham! God allowed the words to pierce right through my idol-ridden
heart. I found myself pulling into the church parking lot, turning
off the car, and lowering my head. I quietly pleaded with God
to take from me this desire for material things, as it had consumed
me to the point that I was losing my precious freedom. Immediately,
I sensed my spirit lift. It happened the moment I agreed with
God that the price was too high. I knew that anything replacing
Him as the center of my life was an idol. It had to go!
Together, we did an inventory of my heart, and later that same
evening, He took me to Galatians 5:1: "It was for freedom
that Christ has made us free; stand firm, lest you fall again
under a yoke of slavery".
I soon began to discover that in Christ, we have already been
made free (John 8: 36). There is a fight of faith that must be
won in order to maintain that freedom. After all, it cost the
very life of Jesus Himself. Why wouldn't it cost me something?
I've learned a very valuable lesson. Freedom does NOT come free.
For me, it's a matter of prayerfully placing a guard on my heart
and standing firm with my shield of faith.
One of the keys to walking out this freedom is in knowing that
the battle has been won. We simply believe that the jail door
has already been swung wide open and that at any point we can
walk out and stay out! Many times we are the ones who lock ourselves
up because we lose sight of who we are and what we have in Christ.
My heartfelt prayer is that all of us who are called by His name
would know and understand that it is His desire that we recognize
our freedom, not just one day out of the year, but instead rejoice
in claiming our own individual emancipation proclamation every
day. Our day of reckoning will arrive when we truly let freedom
ring by celebrating our spiritual, as well as physical, Independence
Day -- today and every day!
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