Let Freedom Ring! There’s a song written about the United States called “America” originally penned by Samuel Francis Smith.1 The first stanza goes like this:
“My country, ’tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountain side.
Let Freedom ring.”
Freedom has been on my mind lately. Just exactly what is freedom? What does it mean to be free? To have freedom in life, mind, and circumstances?
According to Merriam-Webster, freedom means; the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; independence; the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous.2
So to feel the freedom that Mr. Smith spoke of, we should also feel a sense of liberation or know the experience of free will to choose what to do or be. For a long time in my life, I didn’t feel those things. No matter how poetic and true the verses rang from the song, no matter how many times I heard it, tried to believe it, or sang it myself, I didn’t feel free. I felt oppressed, down-trodden, whipped… I felt constrained.
Further down in the song still, is the following stanza:
“Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright
With Freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by thy might
Great God, our King.”
The answer to why I didn’t feel the freedom that was granted me by the Author of Liberty was because I didn’t look to Him in my daily life. While I have been a Christian since youth, I have mostly continued to strive in my own strength or “work it out” on my own. Getting more wore out by the day, I struggled with life. I forgot to include the Author of Liberty into my daily life. But to experience His Freedom, I found out that I had to do just that. I couldn’t do it alone.3
Jesus tell’s us plainly how to obtain Freedom in John Chapter 8 of the Bible. “So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “IF (emphasis mine) you continue to obey my teaching [remain/abide in my word], you are truly my followers [disciples]. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make [set] you free.”4 So, according to Jesus, you must obey Him, stay in His word to know the truth and the truth leads us to freedom! What a simple (and under-utilized) path to freedom. So simple, yet so hard to do if we don’t obey and stay in His word.
The Apostle Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians that to understand God’s Freedom, we need His Spirit.5 How do you get God’s Spirit? If you believe in His Son, just ask for it!6 Sometimes you have to go back and ask again, but keep knocking, keep seeking and you will find God’s wonderful Freedom through His Spirit who teaches us all things.7
So that brings me full circle. To remove the shackles of oppression, the feeling of being down-trodden, or loneliness, I needed another way. I needed to look to the Author of Liberty and CHOOSE Him! I needed to let go of the hurts of yesteryear, stop believing the lies 8 of the enemy, and denounce the thoughts of oppression and what gave me those feelings in the first place. I needed to look to the only One 9 that could truly set me free.
My goal now is to invite Christ into my life every day! To hand over my direction to the Author of Liberty and to stop trying to “work it out” on my own. I will ask Christ to lead me daily and will listen for His voice 10. I will choose to follow His lead. I want freedom… but only the freedom that comes from knowing the truth. For that, I need Him.
That brings me to my final thoughts on freedom. I read somewhere (and I apologize, I cannot remember where but the quote stuck with me) that “The only real Freedom ceases to exist in the absence of discipline”. People think that freedom means the absence of restraint. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While yes, you can exercise your freedom to choose cake over broccoli! But… if you make that your habit, you will experience the consequences of your actions. To experience freedom therefore, we make choices. Do you want a healthy body? Choose the healthier lifestyle and you’ll experience the freedom that comes from that lifestyle and not the bondage that comes from being a slave to your baser desires (for massive quantities of cake, for example).
Christ too, gives us a choice. He doesn’t shove His will down our throats 11. In order to continue to experience His freedom, I will have to discipline myself to choose Him. I will have to bring my thoughts and my selfish desires into subjection and choose the Author every day. I want freedom, but not just the freedom to have cake or not. I want the real freedom that comes from knowing who my Creator is and what He has in store for me 12 which is better than anything I can think up 13! The kind of freedom that can only be experienced by choosing to seek Him and by abiding in His word. I will choose this, every day because I don’t want even ONE day to be without His freedom.
Thank you Lord for making it so easy for us. Thank you for the gift of Your freedom.