Published on May 25th, 2016 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0


I have nothing new or uniquely creative to write today and so I will write what so many will write during this Memorial holiday. Although what I have to say may be the same as what others will write it feels right to say it. It is good to raise our voices in unity for those that are worthy of our respect and honor. I woke today in peace and was free to plan my day to try and accomplish those things that I believe God had laid before me. I did not wake up in fear of my life or my eternal future. My mind raced with opportunities rather than seeking ways to survive. It is good to live free.

I have had the privilege of sharing a number of conversations with those who have fought to preserve that freedom. They shared some of the harrowing experiences they faced. One man wondered why he was spared when his friend next to him was mortally wounded. Another spoke of months trapped behind enemy lines and how he came face to face with the enemy. As they pointed their guns at each other they both realized that today was not a good day to die. Without saying a word they both slowly walked away. I listened intently as one man seemed to be instantly transported back to the battle grounds as he shared about the noise of combat. He spoke of the whistling of bullets and then paused before he spoke solemnly about the fact that the bullet you never heard was the one you needed to be afraid of. One man, a prisoner of war for a short time, spoke of eating unthinkable things due to the immense hunger he faced. He very quickly added that it was only for a short time. He seemed to imply that this made him less heroic. Each soldier that I spoke to, though, did not dwell on these stories for too long. They did not want to relive those times but rather wanted to speak of the freedom that they now enjoyed and the small part they believed they played in keeping that freedom.

The same goes for those who are first responders. I will never forget my father-in-law sharing with me something he noticed during 9-11. My father-in-law was a police officer for 52 years. He saw the videos of 9-11 and his first observation to me was to look at the police officers and fire fighters. Everyone else was running away from the buildings, a natural and common sense reaction to the terror that was unfolding in those buildings. The police and firemen, though, were running toward the buildings. As I watched I could not help but relate this present day horror to my own life. Here were events unfolding right before my eyes and I had to stop and think, “Which way would I be running?” These men and women wake up every day with the knowledge that today they would put their life on the line. They do this so I can wake up every morning safe and free.

Of course, the greatest example of one giving their life so that I can be free is the Lord Jesus. He left the joy of heaven to come and give his entire life to the pursuit of the cross so that I could be free forever. Free from the slavery of sin. Free to live in peace with God. Free to wake up to opportunities and not condemnation. I have the freedom today to choose to follow Christ and to walk in obedience to him. I love John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” I am not simply free today…I am free indeed. Indeed means “without any question.” I am free and there are no questions about it. Sin is no longer my master. Romans 8 tells me that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That “therefore” is important because it teaches us that we have no condemnation because God, through the work of Jesus, has taken that condemnation away. It is based on Jesus’ work and not our behavior. I am free from all condemnation. God does not look at me and raise his eyebrows and say, “tsk, tsk, tsk.” He looks at me and sees his Son’s righteousness. I am holy and without blame. I am free from all condemnation. I find that I can sing with the hymn writer, “burdens are lifted at Calvary.” I no longer sludge through life with the burden of sin and judgment on my shoulders. I am free to dance and sing the new song that he has given me.

So I stop today and I evaluate how I am going to use my day. I have been given freedom. I am able to choose how to live today. I am able to choose how I will live and what I will accomplish today. I am able to choose my attitude and demeanor. May the Lord grant me the desire to choose joy today.

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