It’s been a full week since my last posting, but… ah, forget the “but.” How long it’s been since my last post is no worthy subject upon which to dwell (or write). Sorry for the wasted two sentences (make that three).
Upon the death of Ronald Reagan, I read one of his speeches today from 1984 to a group of Army Rangers who had stormed enemy cliffs on D-Day back in World War II. Many of them lost their friends or their health or just that simple sense of security and ease of life that so many in the West “take for granted.” And I’m only referring to those who lived through the battle. (I think that we need to find a fresh synonymical phrase to take the place of “taken for granted,” because it’s overused enough to be “taken for granted” itself). Of those who have chosen not to remember the invaluable price that has been paid for our freedom in this country and the freedom of those in others, I am chief. I need to and I must choose differently.
Mothers and fathers and wives and husbands and children and best friends and colleagues have paid dearly throughout the years for the sake of the liberty of others. And again, I’m only talking about those who have lived and loved the dying, not those who have died out of love and loyalty themselves. The relative value that I place on the liberty that they died for and that I enjoy is not the issue, as if to say that if someone doesn’t feel the need or the worth of the gift which someone else died to purchase for them, the sacrifice is no longer meaningful. I enjoy those liberties; I am blessed by them; and someone else died so that I could enjoy and be blessed by them. And not just one “someone”; many “someone’s,” even though they are nameless and faceless to me and to all for whom they died. Based on that reality, I ought to be astounded into gratefulness. Much more than I am.
We may attempt to be super-spiritual (i.e., more spiritual than the Bible itself) and say, “I am a citizen of heaven; I place no value on earthly liberties,” and yet in our noble and perhaps genuine attempt to be biblical we will be off-balance, and in our off-balancedness we will be rebuked by the same Scriptures that call us citizens of heaven. According to our heavenly Father and the beautiful Governor of that place wherein our heavenly citizenship is found, that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all dignity is one of the purposes for which we pray for our earthly leaders. Freedom is a blessing (and an answer to prayer) whose worth can perhaps only be appropriately valued by those who do not have it. It hurts to realize this.
Yes, I will be the first to conclude based on a massive amount of biblical evidence that the American church (myself intricately included) is her lukewarm, prostituting self partly because of the secure and comfortable and pleasurable freedom that we enjoy here. We have forgotten the warnings of Deuteronomy 6 & 8 in which Yahweh called Israel not to forget Him when they had entered the Promised Land and were filled with good things that they had not worked for. However, by no means is this an indication that liberty and material abundance and physical security and religious freedom are evil. No, it is our hearts that are evil, and that beyond comprehension. It is our hearts that “forget the Lord our God.” The sin of prideful forgetfulness in Deuteronomy 6 & 8 is not cultural. It’s human.
Unfortunately, the drowsiness of a full and sated appetite is so often not the impetus to worship that it ought to be, but is rather a sedater of that worship, putting the soul to sleep with visions of comfort and security separated from their Source.
Now, from lesser to greater:
I am reminded first of all that I ought to have a deep-seated, genuine, emotional gratefulness in my heart for all those who have died the world over for the benefit of their fellow-man. The lives of men ought never to be taken lightly. And oh, that I might be stirred to appreciate and appropriate the liberty for which they died! Appreciating it by thanking God and them for it, and appropriating it by freely proclaiming the gospel to anyone who will listen, gathering without fear with my fellow believers every Sunday and whenever else it is possible to worship the one true God, earning money in our wonderful economy so that I might be able to give to those who are in need and have no hope, and many other ways. I must be thankful for this earthly liberty, and I must use it for the glory of God.
And finally, is there not a picture here (as there always seems to be) of the merciful redemption of Christ who came and gave up His own liberty and life for ours, to rescue us from the merciless enslavement to sin and death that we were under? To leave His throne above and to come here to walk with men like me and to die for us, His enemies, is infintely more sweet and magnificent than even the noble Army Rangers who left their homeland and their familes and their security and everything they held dear to die on the cliffs beyond Normandy. They died for their friends, even when it is clear that “one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” “But,” gloriously, “He demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were still sinners [and enemies], Christ died for us.” He left infinitely more behind. He came to infinitely less. He died for an infinitely greater cause. He glorified an infinitely greater Person. And He died for those who hated Him; for all hated Him. Is there honor due the Army Rangers of World War II? Emphatically so. Ought the freedom that they died for be greatly appreciated and heartily employed? Without ceasing.
But there is One who lived best and died best and whose cause and aim (the glory of His Father) was beyond noble. And the freedom and forgiveness and adoption and relationship and privileges and future that He gives ought to be appreciated and employed all the more, and ought to be valued and commemorated and shared and proclaimed in this world and in the next. But for now, may we live and proclaim this higher freedom *through the earthly freedom that God sovereignly ordained for us to have and for which He paid the price of other of His creatures made in His own image.* He has paid for so much, with so much, so many times and with so much pain. And so much generosity and liberty. He is a giving God. May we rejoice that our souls are now as free as His heart, and far more free than our even our country.
Boy, this was disjointed. If it made any sense at all, I will be astonished. Must learn to keep one train of thought. My thoughts seem to be like the Amazon, branching off in all different directions and struggling to remember the headwaters. And who knows where any particular branch will end up, and whom it will drown when it floods? :) Anyway, thanks for enduring. Goodnight.