To say this week was easy would be a flat out lie. I have a heart for FCA and their summer camps that impact so many lives for the Kingdom and secured my eternity with God eight years ago. This week camp was held in Abilene, Texas while I’m 5,000+ miles away in France studying abroad. As pictures were posted and statuses were updated throughout the week I wanted to be in the heart of Texas serving along side my brothers and sisters instead of in France (some people think I’m crazy, that’s okay with me!). As I was explaining my emotions to one of my best friends who served in Abilene this week, she brought me back to reality and how God was working in me despite being so far away. As I told her the high points of my week she revealed to me God’s handiwork that I was blind to.
If I hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t have gotten to explain the difference between practicing religion and having a relationship with God in class. I wouldn’t have gotten to challenge God through prayer to move mightily at camp and hear about my answered prayers and the fruits of the week in a two hour Skype call. I wouldn’t have gotten to spend an hour at the United States Cemetery at Omaha Beach where this week 68 years ago so many lives where lost in a battle for freedom. If I weren’t here this week I wouldn’t have seen the clouds part during the National Anthem as God broke the chains enslaving my heart to a law that condemns to remind me of freedom found in a faith that saves. Let me explain.
The past few months I have fallen into the dungeons of legalism and self-righteousness. Rather than reflecting on the state of my own heart, I’ve been focused on everyone else’s flaws and have tried to earn my own salvation by following rules – a terrible combination. Fortunately, we have a Father who never stops pursuing us even when we fall off the rails for a season and He’s placed me back on the tracks through the book of Galatians. In a nut shell (please read Galatians ASAP!), the churches of Galatia heard and responded to the Gospel when Paul shared with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. After Paul left, religious leaders told the Galatians they needed to abide by certain religious customs and laws to earn salvation. As humans, the Galatians, like so many of us, retreated from the Gospel of Christ Paul shared and found themselves entangled in religious laws rather than drowning in the grace that sets them free. They returned to a false gospel that told them it was Jesus plus good works that saves rather than Christ alone.
“…yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.” -Galatians 2:16
So how does this correlate to my experience at the cemetery?
Freedom is often a result of a sacrifice given out of love. The American soldiers who stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 were fighting for our freedom against an enemy that sought to enslave us. They fought and many died because they loved our country and wanted to preserve our freedom. D-Day was a turning point in World War II. Had the mission failed we would have taken a huge blow and had to regroup to try attacking again in a couple years. Had it failed you may not be sitting in the comfort of your living room or on your cell phone reading this post. Had it failed, life as we know it could be one of bondage.
I repeat, freedom is often a result of a sacrifice given out of love. Jesus Christ sacrificed himself on a cross over 2,000 years ago to end the battle against an enemy that sought to enslave us. Christ died to liberate us from a condemning law that we cannot follow as hard as we try. On our best days, we fall short. The cross was a turning point and Christ’s mission to free us from our bondage couldn’t fail. Why? Because God had already promised Abraham 400+ years before the law existed that Abraham and his offspring are counted righteous through faith alone (Galatians 3:6-7). When God makes a promise He keeps it. He kept it at the cross.
Today in the cemetery, as the National Anthem rang through the speakers, God broke through the chains and set me free. The clouds opened to reveal the sun and the weight of the cross and my inheritance as a daughter of the Most High sank in like it was the first time all over again. The law condemns, Christ saves. What a beautiful God. What an amazing grace.
My challenge: Stop trying to earn grace. You can’t, it’s freely given. Instead, humble yourself to the cross and let freedom ring.
“Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” -Galatians 5:1