I enjoy gathering with family and friends for food, fellowship and fireworks on the 4th of July holiday, and I imagine you do too. As I participate in the festivities, I’m reminded that our founding fathers and their families paid a tremendous price in order for us to enjoy the freedoms we have in this great nation, freedoms that we all too often take for granted. Although they had security as far as the world measures it, each of the signers of the declaration valued liberty more than their belongings, even their lives. They pledged the following to one another:
“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
Many people are unaware of the sacrifices they did in fact make. The British captured five of the signers during the war, including Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton, and George Walton was wounded as well as captured. Richard Stockton was captured and never recovered from his incarceration by British Loyalists and he died in 1781. John Adams received a letter from Thomas McKean who wrote that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." The British captured two of Abraham Clark’s sons during the war.
The homes and property of eleven signers were destroyed. Francis Lewis's home was demolished and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, and they were never repaid.
The reality is that freedom is never free. There is always a cost. And as much as I am grateful—and I truly am-- for the sacrifices of our founding fathers who were willing to give up their property, their safety and security, and even their lives to establish our nation, I am far more grateful to Jesus Who was willing to lay down His life to secure the greatest treasure I will ever have--freedom from the power and penalty of sin. And that was the costliest purchase ever made. My freedom—and yours—could only be bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. Our Heavenly Father had to be willing to sacrifice the life of His blameless, Beloved Son Jesus in order to redeem my life and yours. If you ever wonder how valuable you are, remember the great price that God was willing to pay for you and your freedom! You are treasured by Him! He was willing to exchange a perfect life for your sinful one in order that you could be set free from your sin.
My husband and I are going through a challenging period in our lives right now that has made me keenly aware that because I know and trust in Jesus, I have been set free from all fear! When we received what many, if not most people in the world would have considered devastating news, we immediately reminded ourselves that although it may have caught us by surprise, it certainly did not catch Our God ‘who is able to work all things together for our good and for His glory’ by surprise. God is still on His throne; He is Sovereign over our circumstances, and we trust completely in His good and loving nature and know He not only WILL NOT fail us, but He CANNOT fail us as we look to Him and lean upon Him rather than our own understanding.
Despite our circumstances, my husband and I are flooded with peace…the peace that truly ‘surpasses all human understanding’. (Philippians 4:7) How can we be filled with peace, and even have joyful anticipation thinking what the future may bring? Because we are resting in the sure knowledge that ‘our redeemer lives’, and we firmly believe that He IS always at work-- regardless of our circumstances or our understanding-- to bring about our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) It is one thing to believe those words with your head, it is another thing altogether to be in the midst of the storm and know beyond a doubt that you believe them with all of your heart! What a joy it is to know we have been set free from fear! Free because our trust is in the One Who was willing to give His very life to purchase our freedom! If Jesus was willing to give us His very life, is there anything good He will ever withhold from us? (Romans 8:32)
So as you celebrate the 4th of July this year, I hope you will thank God for our founding fathers who valued liberty more than security so that you can have the liberties you enjoy in our country today. And I especially hope you will take the time to thank Jesus for being willing to give up all of the glories of heaven to come to earth to be born a man and give His life in exchange for yours, so that you can have ‘peace on earth’ and spend eternity with the One Who was willing to pay the price for your everlasting freedom! Let us walk and rejoice in the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us!
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
We've been liberated
From our bondage
We're the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom
Lyrics above from No Longer Slaves by Bethel
Written by Julie Van Gorp