Two days ago we celebrated Independence Day (sadly this year was mostly filled with rain rather than fireworks or outdoors enjoyment for us), the Fourth of July. 237 years ago the Continental Congress declared that the American colonies were now a sovereign nation, a people free from the political bonds of Great Britain.
As you may know, it was not as simple as that. It took years more of war to secure the bold proclamation of that day. To be sure the words and the moment mattered – it’s why we celebrate them still. But there was work to be done to earn that freedom, to make sure in deed what was written and proclaimed.
There’s a lesson there about our personal and spiritual freedom. My faith proclaims a freedom – a freedom from the fear and power of death, a freedom from living in guilt, fear, shame. “Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again” (Galatians 5:1 CEB) Freedom is something into which we have to live, to grow.
It’s not enough to say we are free of our past, of our mistakes, of the wrongs we have done and that have been done to us, of our griefs. It takes time and effort and will to live in that freedom. And not unlike the Founding Fathers, we have to – I have to – live into and work into that freedom. Thomas Merton once wrote —
“It is not that someone else is preventing you from living happily; you yourself do not know what you want. Rather than admit this [and ask for God’s help], you pretend that someone else is keeping you from exercising your liberty. Who is this? It is you yourself.”
May you and I live into our freedom with God’s help and blessing on this long holiday weekend… and beyond.