Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17 – NIV)
Yesterday was a long day. I started it overseas on a mechanically delayed flight, only to arrive in the US at the onslaught of a downpour. As I was transiting through the airport, everything continued to slow down – the immigration procession, the luggage delivery to the baggage carousel, the customs queue, the baggage re-check station, and of course the security line. When I arrived at my connecting gate, I learned that there was yet another flight delay caused by a category 2 hurricane surging along the eastern seaboard. Hours later, we boarded the aircraft, only to be off-loaded because the flight was cancelled. Throughout the 10-hour day that had been riddled with delay after delay after delay, I had lots of built-in time and opportunities to be His light and illuminate paths to Him for others. In many moments I beamed, but in a two instances, I may have casted shadows. As I remembered my sarcastic responses to lack of clarity for information provided by various airport employees, I felt a lesson larger than patience coming on. But when the message did not readily come to me, I pressed on.
Realizing that the sun would set, rise again, and set a second time before I would arrive back home, I understood that God had used the day as a metaphor to get me to figuratively and literally slow down and reflect on why I do what I do. But I still wrestled with understanding the kernel of what He was asking me to think about or learn. As my head continued to pound from an unaddressed migraine, His desire for my comprehension hit me like a ton of bricks – it’s the reason or purpose for what I do, not the task of work itself. Then in baritone He said, “As My child, your job is to pursue what you do in the service of others with excellence. This whole inspiration thing is a requirement, not an option, according to the gifts that have been given to you. Pay it forward, as you are in this moment and place only because of the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before you. Remember the blood of my son, the sweat of Booker T. and the tears of your mother? I set this earth into motion, built this nation, and gave you good health and an education. Because of it, you have freedom of motion, freedom of choice, and freedom in Christ. It is complementary to you but was bought and paid for with a high price. Now get up and get ’er done! I know you have a headache. You don’t think they did too? The difference is I have given you the resources to obtain a remedy. You have simply chosen not to reach for relief. Now, let’s go!”
My mouth and my feet had stopped moving but the cannons in my head continued to volley and thunder. I begged my presence of mind not to abandon me as I regained my bearings, found a newspaper kiosk, purchased headache medicine, and took it dry. Within a few seconds, I had better clarity of thought and was humbled as this song came to mind: Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness. Open my eyes, let me see beauty that made this heart adore You; Hope of a life spent with You. King of all days, oh, so highly exalted; glorious in heaven above. Humbly You came to the earth You created; all for love’s sake became poor. And here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely; altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. And I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. (Chris Tomlin – Here I Am to Worship)
I got rebooked on another flight and made it to a hotel. As I laid in bed on the eve of America’s birthday trying to exit the cognitive labyrinth I found myself in, I landed on what initially seemed to be this simple solution: In His name and for His gain, lovingly make friends and influence people. However upon further reflection, I thought: Simple? Not so much! How? Clearly He is asking me to alter, even if ever so slightly, my current direction or orientation. The more I mused, the more entangled in the maze I became; like a helpless swimmer trapped in a whirlpool beneath a great waterfall, tossed and turned in a billion-gallon agitating vortex. Feeling my mental vertigo, the spirit gently approached me and said, “Listen! He knows how your mind races. That is why He wanted you to slow down. Relax! Here is what He is saying: Tomorrow is your nation’s birthday. On that day, remember that many before you were called to spread His good will. Follow in their footsteps. As you enjoy the celebrations and fireworks, know that He wants you to approach every second of everyday with the zeal to love the people next to you. The global approach begins with a single soul. The each one teach one concept will spread the good news like wildfire, if everyone does their part. But it begins with you.”
My contemplations on the experience have me here:
- We are all soldiers on this battlefield.
- It takes each one executing mission for all to hear His bells of freedom ringing.
- He takes no prisoners as true liberty is found by asking to be in Him.
Our celebrations of independence are an admission of interdependence with the rest of humanity and our total dependence on Him. We are highly valued and have great worth. But untold tariffs, fees, fares, and tolls were paid as necessary sacrifices for deliverance. Yes, the echoes of emancipation are expensive. Fight for them because their significance is enormous. But remember that love is the only true answer to autonomy. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12 – NIV)
Our God demonstrates everyday what is written at our most memorable port of entry : “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Let us honor Him and our glorious nation as is called for in Galatians 5:1, 7-10, and 13-15, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty…13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 15If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Live strong, fight on, let freedom ring and have a happy 4th of July.