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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Independence Day Every Day

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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 just 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 love 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 awed us.

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 had 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 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 worship there religiously, as shown by endless, frivolous spending (myself included).

I was returning home from one of those shopping sprees when I saw a one-line message displayed on a local church sign. The words were simple, but they really packed a punch. What it said was life-changing:

"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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