A couple months ago my dad retired from the military. Twenty-one years of service, seven different assignments, and sixteen of those years served as a chaplain. Twenty-one years of orders, service, sacrifice, and reward. It was a moment I think every service member aspires to reach and it’s one that you can be proud of when you do. My experience growing up in a military family was probably much of what you would expect: an ocean of surprises with just a dash of crazy. In college I studied the effects of this lifestyle on the family dynamic. It’s one of constant moving, uncertainty, sacrifice, and transitions. All military families have a unique experience, but I think the common thread you will find is this tension between growing together and releasing control as your service member yields their life, along with yours, to the orders of someone else.
It’s a tricky balance; a balance we can all relate to in our walk with Christ.
I find myself reflecting on what I gleaned from our years in the service. Was much of what I learned about trusting Jesus found in those years of moving around? Was it through the consistent uncertainty of what came next that lead me to rest in the providence and provision of God; to realize that this journey with Him is not as complicated as we might be tempted to make it?
I think so.
As we see in Matthew 4:19, Jesus really only asks us of one thing: He says, “Follow me” and our response to all that comes with following Him can be simply summed up in the word ‘yes’. Something beautiful happens when you are yielded to something greater---rather, Someone greater. There’s a habit that starts to take shape in your heart when you, year after year, find yourself saying, “Yes, I will go.”
No matter what it looks like, you say, “Yes.”
It’s a contrasting thought: an act of submission that offers freedom. You say ‘yes’ because it’s almost as if you don’t have a choice. Of course you do have a choice. But your saying ‘yes’ provides millions the option of saying ‘no’, so how can you say anything but ‘yes’? Our submission to a greater authority offers the multitudes the opportunity to experience freedom in one way or another.
Isn’t that what Jesus offers us, as well, except to a far greater degree? As we say ‘yes’ to Him and submit ourselves to His authority, it can sometimes feel as though we’re losing our freedom, as if we’re losing our privileges. Our lives are no longer about just ourselves. However, our ‘yes’ to Jesus actually offers us more than just personal liberation---it provides everyone around us the opportunity to experience a liberated life too.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." Isaiah 61:1, ESV
The entire Bible is centered on this reality of freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from shame, guilt, and brokenness. Freedom from every lie of the enemy and, ultimately, freedom from death itself.
That’s what Jesus came for---to set the captives (hello---that’s us!) free.
But He doesn’t stop there. He releases us into battle, placing His spirit within us, granting us the authority to break the chains of bondage off of our fellow prisoners.
We are not free for freedom sake. We’re free for the Kingdom’s sake. Our freedom is supposed to be contagious---it was intended to serve as a match that lights a fire of revival in the hearts and souls of those that surround us.
The United States is unique in that we are given the right to give praise to something greater than our government. Of course, we do thank our service members, both past and present, for their sacrifice. We thank them for saying “yes” time and time again so that we would be given the option of saying “no”. We thank them for their blood, sweat, and tears---every act of ‘dying to self’ they displayed for the sake of our lives. For your service and sacrifice, we solute you.
As we wave our American flags, BBQ those ribs, drink our red, white, and blue themed drinks, and flock to our nearest firework show, let us not forget the ultimate Liberator, the One that has made freedom a reality in lives all around the world. Let us not forget the true freedom we find in Christ. He gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live as daughters and sons, heirs to the throne (Romans 8:17). It doesn’t matter what color, background, experience, nationality, or language you carry with you, you are offered this freedom through Him right now. In fact, you were designed for it.
Happy Fourth of July, family!
If you would like to know more about the freedom found through Jesus, come chat with one of our pastors any time Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm or on Sundays at any of our services:
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- A Call to Missions
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