We kicked off July in Evergreen, Colorado, my parents’ home.  For the 32nd year, their local Hospice group organized a 5k on our country’s birthday, and we were all registered.  The blue sky, always at its clearest and brightest above the mountains, was decorated with fluffy, white clouds and made the early wake-up bearable.  Mom volunteered at the finish, Husband and Dad walked in the rear with Youngest in the stroller along with Oldest, who was nursing tired dance legs.  I landed mid-pack with Middle Daughter, determined to run it all, and Middle Son, planning to leave us in his dust.  He succeeded.  Small American flags were our finishing prizes, and beyond the finish line was a slice of Americana at its finest.  Dogs with patriotic bandanas lounging in baby pools.  Face painting.  Balloons.  Firefighters and their engines.  Healthy “finish line” food, dashing hopes for hot dogs and funnel cakes.  Friends hugging.  Strangers exchanging warm smiles.  Camaraderie.  The celebration of our freedom as U.S. citizens was the icing on an ideal morning … even without the funnel cakes.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

As citizens of God’s kingdom, we get lots of free stuff.  Really Good Stuff.  We get a life, including our very own body, mind, heart & soul, and we’re granted free will to do with it as we please.  Despite His free gift of our life, God doesn’t force us down a path toward Him.  We’re free to journey far from Him or take one of the many paths somewhere in between.  We’re offered freedom that extends well beyond the freedom enjoyed by citizens of any worldly government.  And, it’s free.  He’s paid the full price for our freedom through His Son’s death.  His sacrifice set us free from our sins not only for our forgiveness, but so we may also have the ultimate freedom – one that unlocks the shackles of fear, ingratitude, grief, greed, jealousy, pride, and all the other nasties that enslave us.  If we allow it, the counter-cultural nature of a Christian lifestyle will shackle us with embarrassment of our faith.  But, there is freedom in sharing our beliefs and being our true selves, regardless of what we fear another might think.  There is freedom in acknowledging God’s judgment is the only one that matters and that attempts to “keep up” with others don’t mean much of anything and create more bondage than super glue.  There is freedom in recognizing we can do nothing alone and owe all thanks to God.  There is freedom in knowing our challenges are part of God’s bigger plan – one we may not understand or like but may trust will be used for good.  The key to unlock the cuffs of our self-imposed bondage is free.  We simply have to ask Him to help us turn it in the locks we’ve built.  God’s government is one to which I’d gladly pay taxes, but no payment is required.  The only requirement is genuine belief, and from that comes much peace, love, goodness, and freedom.

Dear God, thank you for our free freedom.