A Freedom Which Will Never Disappoint Us

Where is your favorite place in Culpeper?  Someone posed that question to me not long ago and I had to do some thinking.  Yes, I enjoy the Cedar Mountain Battlefield because I love Civil War History.  Yes, I enjoy the Culpeper County Public Library.  I’ve lived many places in my life and we have one of the finest libraries around.   Maybe your list might include a variety of restaurants, breweries, parks, specific places or special landmarks.  But for me, when it comes right down to it, my favorite place is the Culpeper National Cemetery. A cemetery?  Some may wonder why, and here is my response.  Every time I set foot on these hallowed grounds with the finely manicured grass and rows of white stones, I always feel that I am surrounded by freedom.  Beginning with the War Between the States through present day conflicts, heroic men and women who sacrificed for this nation and its freedoms are laid to rest in this reverent place.  Through the years I’ve had the upmost privilege of being a part of Memorial Day/Veteran Day Services at the Cemetery.  And on numerous occasions too many to count, I’ve had the distinct honor of presiding over services for veterans and spouses from Virginia and all over the nation.  The blanket of freedom is indeed alive in that place. On July 4, 1776, two hundred and forty-two years ago, our nation declared its independence realizing that freedom directly comes from God.  And there are several references to this freedom in Holy Scripture.  John 8:34-36 reminds us that we are freed from the power of sin as Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son remains forever.  So if the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed!  In II Corinthians 3:17 it says wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  Through the Spirit of the living God we are provided with a free gift of faith in Christ.  Galatians 5:13 helps us to understand that we are free not to just focus on ourselves but to serve others as it is written, “For you we’re called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  And in I Peter 2:16 we are compelled to; “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” What constitutes “living as a free person?”  It means taking personal responsibility for our country, family, faith, actions and work.  It means loving and serving our neighbors.  It’s means clearly understanding that life doesn’t just revolve around ourselves, but responding to the hurting and heartsick. I once met a woman who personifies these characteristics in a powerful way.  This individual was married as a teenager, and quickly had five children.  After her last child was born her husband literally left her for another woman. But instead of soliciting pity and acting out in anger and bitterness, she went to work to support her family.  This woman of faith never gave up, as she literally raised those children on her own.  Eventually, she met a very loving man whom she married, and enjoyed forty years of living.  Simply, I have never known a more generous, compassionate, loving and giving person in my life.  Instead of choosing to be a victim, she clung to Jesus, and chose to live her freedom in raising an awesome family and intentionally reaching out to others and their needs. Whether we realize it or not, we are a free people.  And our liberty comes directly from God.  The God who unselfishly sacrificed his only Son to provide us freedom from darkness/death, and the God who has continually lifted up others to ensure this liberty for generations to come.   Knowing what we’ve been given, let us be compelled and motivated to “live as people who are free.”  A freedom which will never disappoint us.