Today is America’s birthday. It has always seemed to have a special meaning for me, since I was a bicentennial baby…yup, I just told my age…for those of you who care to figure it out.
I’ve always been extremely loyal and patriotic…before I settled into the idea that God perfectly positioned me just where He wanted me…I always dreamed of time traveling back to the Revolutionary War period or the Civil War Period. Being one of those girls who dress up like a boy, disguising that they were the “weaker” sex and went off to fight for what they believed it.
(Don’t misunderstand me, women today STILL fight for what they believe in…just the high-jinks of yesteryear have been so romanticised…I’m sure disguising the fact one is a “girl” is much harder than it reads….)
I’ve always had a fascination with the birth of our Nation…and at least some scratch-the-surface kinda realization that true freedom is never free. Freedom that we enjoy, take for granted and most of the time totally disregard…it’s never been free. It’s always been bought with a huge price…a huge sacrifice.
I was always enamored with the romantic notions of what it would be like to send a love one off to war. After all, the infamous pictures from WWII seem so glamorous and carefree. Movies make the Civil War seem more like a Romantic fairy tale and much of the grisly parts glossed over.
Living in a post 9-11 world, with a country that’s been at war over 10 years has done much to shatter my disillusionment. As I reconnected with friends from college I found that I had friends in every branch of the military. This has certainly changed my perspective of the price of freedom…gone are the care free, trouble free young men I went to college with. In their place are serious, and often somber, men who have paid for my freedom.
If you’ve ever sent care packages to a close friend and felt helpless…
If you’ve ever cared for someone deeply and watch as they struggled to be the person they were…before…before the deployment, the TBI, the PTSD…before…the person they will never be again…a person who has seen too much, a person who has felt too much, a person who doesn’t know what to do with all the baggage they NOW carry…so they struggle on under its weight…and you feel helpless…
If you’ve ever been awaken by God…with a deep dreadful feeling…knowing FULL well you were being called to PRAY…discovering the next day (or much later) that at the exact moment you were praying that insurgents were attacking the FOB (forward operating base) that your friend was at…feeling helpless…felt that pray was too little, care packages not enough…doing all you knew to do was just too little to do…
If you’ve ever had to stand by…watching, praying, hoping, believing…knowing that the only hope that your loved one had of ever having a “normal” life or any kinda of life like the “before” deployment…it would all be God and God alone…and no matter how much you prayed, begged God, quoted scripture…no matter how much you believed…you knew the only thing that was standing between that friend and the trigger was God…when praying was the last resort and the first response…only option and all the options…only if you have been here…
Then maybe you do know…
Loving someone whether they are a “simple” (simple-because when is friendship ever just simple) friend or someone who you’re hoping your life is forever linked to who is, has been or will be in the military is a privilege, a responsibility and a special burden that God has entrusted you with. If you’ve been here, then you will understand what I mean.
Watching…that person struggle to come back from who they were, resigning to who they never will be again, learning who they are now—that, watching that…that gives you a much clearer understanding of the cost of freedom.
Freedom’s cost isn’t just measured in loss of life, loss of limb, loss of family, loss of well-being, loss of innocence, loss of naïveté…a loss of things I will never truly fully comprehend…though I have a much better understanding than many…and not near as much of an understanding as some.
Most of the time I feel I’m on the sidelines, a bystander, a spectator in the game of get-back-to-“normal”-life—watching as dear friends work so hard on finding themselves—only to discover the person they remember themselves as will never be again.
When you’ve had a front row seat, watching how a deployment can totally decimate a family….then you will become more fully aware of the cost of freedom…and a much better understanding that freedom is never cheap.
…and yet, the cost of deployment…the cost of PTSD, TBI…the loss of all of those things that our vets struggle with is so devalued, so minimized, so overlooked and taken for granted.
It makes me so much more aware of the price that my freedom was to Christ. My freedom from sin wasn’t free either; it came with a steep price. A price so extreme and so high that I would never have been able to earn my way free, work my way free of it, on my own merit and value wasn’t worthy of it.
Yet, GOD said I was worth it…and HE SENT HIS ONLY SON to DIE FOR ME (John 3:16). There on the cross Christ took upon Himself all of my guilt, all of my shame, He took the punishment that I rightly deserved, the punishment I had earned…He did all of that…and all He ask it that I believe Him, trust Him, obey Him and love Him….WHAT AMAZING LOVE THAT IS!!!
It is so easy for me to see the cost of war—reflected back at me—as I stare into my friends’ eyes as the struggle with TBI’s, PTSD and post-deployment “issues”. Christ paid I high price for me (and for you—salvation is free for anyone who is willing to accept the gift) and yet because we didn’t have a front row seat…it is so easy for us to disregard it, overlook it and devalue His gift. It is so difficult for us to see the price that Christ paid to save us from ourselves…and who am I—that a KING should bleed and die for?
I refuse to abuse and misuse this gift of full salvation…the gift of true freedom. It wasn’t free, just because I didn’t pay the price—DOESN’T mean it was free. I choose to live each day fully relying on God, to live each day striving to be all Christ (with His help) intends for me to be. I am willing to die to myself, to lose my life and find it in my Lord Jesus Christ. I am willing to trust God, obey God and abandon my goals, dreams, desires and ambitions….making God’s will supreme in my life.
It is then when I have complete and utter dependence on God, that I will experience true freedom (as so will you).
For some that magnitude of true freedom seems incomprehensible…
Happy Birthday America
—May God Bless You…and God Bless Our Troops, Vets and Military Families