First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Freedom to live

January 7, 2016

        "The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack

        of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Proverbs 5:22-23, NIV)

 

    As a young man of 20 something, I remember the joy of pulling the last sheet out of my loan ledger and paying that last payment. It was so exhiliarating! The truck was finally all mine!  Of course, when I originally got that loan booklet, I thought the world was going to end. It looked as thick as a volume of War and Peace. How would I ever pay all those monthly demands and still live. My father took me aside and said, "Don't let pride get in the way. Pay your bills on time and make sure you do the right thing." Fatherly advice should always be heeded. Since that time we have received and payed off many more loans and presently we are all still living, breathing, and dare I say thriving. God has blessed us and taught us the value of responsibility. Being independent of loan payments is a good feeling but that feeling came with some costs. It came with good budgeting techniques (a plan). It came with a calm approach to impulse buying (instant gratification). It came with a sense of priority which relegated frivilous things we thought we needed and sent them to the bottom of the list of importance (needs versus wants). Sometimes, it meant doing without some things (our value not determined by possessions).

 

    Celebrating independence from things that hold sway over us is a great joy of livng. Have you experienced those moments of joy? I hope so. Finishing a task and knowing that something good is ahead of us helps keep our eyes looking forward rather than grousing and looking backward with disdain. Feelings of accomplishment can be the fuel to keep one's internal engine running. Celebrating God's faithfulness and goodness keeps our hearts centered and grateful. We recognize areas of God's grace and respond with praise.

 

    Even when all of our plans fall into a heap of ruin, there is still a whisper of hope that comes to us. All is not lost and many good things are still possible, still within reach, and still attainable. My life has had more than a few failures that didn't pan out as I had envisioned. Giving up was never an option and I can thank my dad and mom for instilling in me a indomitable spirit of hope and fire. These characteristics aren't always innate and often have to be taught, cultivated, and strengthened. One has to learn to deal with adversity, fear, possible failure, and painful outcomes. Live then with the understanding that life is difficult but not impossible. Be determined to stay the course and keep in close step with God's will. Allow God to be your anchor in the storms, your sunshine in the fog, and wind in your sailing plans. The alternative choice of life would entail giving up, throwing in the towel, and quitting life all together.

 

    I suppose the founding fathers of our nation could resonate with some of the same thoughts about fear, being resolute, and following through with deep conviction. The original signers of the Declaration of Independence were committing high treason and yet followed through to author and validate our freedom from the British Empire. Responsibility carries with it an overwhelming tension to accept whatever happens as an end result of our actions and words. Below is a small portion of the Declaration of Independence. Read it and think of the group of Patriots who hovered over it and formed it. Were they afraid? Probably. Were they willing to make difficult decisions and take risks? Yes. Did they pay a steep cost for their actions? Yes. Are we the benefactors of their courage and fortitude? Definitely.

 

 

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

        "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political

        bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the

        separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent

        respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the

        separation.

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their

        Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of

        Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just

        powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes

        destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new

        Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them

        shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that

        Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all

        experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to

        right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses

        and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute

        Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for

        their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the

        necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present

        King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the

        establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid

        world.....            

        IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

     

 

It is a good day to write your own declaration of independence from failure, fear, oppression, and dispair. Take hold of your life, your decisions, and your greatest fears and hand them over to the one who holds all things in His hand. God yearns to help us, hold us, and fill us with hope. He works in all things for our good. That's the Truth.

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