I love freedom. Cue fireworks...
The 4th of July weekend offers such a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the beauty of freedom in our lives. And the cost of it. And the ugliness of its absence.
As a history teacher, I love sharing the stories of humanity's earnest desire and tenacious battle for freedom over the ages. From tyranny. From oppression. From enslavement. From diminishment.
I love showing my students the times that large groups of people have defiantly declared that a better life is possible. I love telling them about the lives of the people that courageously demonstrated that any sacrifice, no matter how great, is worth it...both in search of that freedom and in defense of it once achieved. Moses freeing the Hebrews from Egypt. Leonidas defending Sparta from the Persians. Menelik II saving Ethiopia from Italy. Washington, Jefferson, and countless others severing 13 colonies from the grasp of England.
The list goes on and on because the desire for freedom is born into every human being that has ever walked this earth. But it requires those that are willing to sacrifice in order to make it possible. Which is why I also love sharing stories of the personal quests for freedom.
The times when individual people defiantly declare that a better life is possible for them -- that a better version of them exists -- and courageously demonstrate that any sacrifice, no matter how great, is worth it in order to become who they could be. Who they were made to be.
People like Eldra Jackson.
On this day when we celebrate freedom, stories like Eldra Jackson's inspire me to continue my own search for greater freedom. To shout defiance against the tyranny and oppression of personal bondage -- as oppressive as the most gruesome dictator -- and to sacrifice anything in pursuit of that life to the full.
I hope you'll listen to his story of rebellion from personal tyranny and oppression. It's amazing! More importantly, as with any good story of rebellion, it's replicable. Beginning with the United States in 1776 and sweeping throughout the Western Hemisphere for the next 50+ years, courageous people in nation after nation rose and declared their independence from foreign powers. They declared their desire for a better life...to become something greater than they had allowed themselves to be. They, in turn, were following the examples of the generations before, and their own examples would then be followed over the next 150+ years until the most prevalent form of governance in the world would be some version of democracy.
So it is with us. We are all in desperate need of freedom. We each live under the yolk of slavery somewhere in our lives...fear, anger, control, addiction, passivity, over-functioning...and it's slowly killing us and killing all we hold dear. Like all revolutions, ours requires someone willing to courageously sacrifice everything to break the yoke of that oppression. Jesus, who fought and died in defiance of the tyranny of sin and death, and who, even now, continues to lead each of us out of captivity and into freedom.
And just as with any revolution, the process is not quick. And so we also require the stories of our contemporaries to embolden us to keep up the fight as we wage our own war for independence. We require the examples of generations past to help us maintain this hard-fought victory and new-found freedom.
So go listen to Eldra Jackson's story. Right now.
And be encouraged, my friends. You do not fight alone.
Today there is freedom.
Today is our Independence Day.