Freedom Isn't Free

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

(Todd and Nicol celebrating Fourth of July at Nkara-Ewa, Congo, 1981)

Where were you September 11, 2001? I was getting breakfast for my four-year, three-year, and one-year-old children when the phone rang. It was my dad.

"Shawn, turn on the news right now. Something is happening at the World Trade Center."

The television screen came into focus about sixty seconds before I watched the second jet fly into the second tower. I stood there in utter disbelief, knowing that something--some kind of innocence--had been lost forever. I immediately knew in those terrifying seconds that something sacred had been robbed from my children, although they were too young to know it at the time.

Do you remember that awful day? I had the same feeling that day as I do after waking up from a nightmare. But I couldn't wake up from this one. I watched as the blazing skeletons of those buildings collapsed into the street below with the azure blue sky overhead. This couldn't be my country! That couldn't be Manhattan whose streets I had walked in years past!

Today I am reflecting on the price that has been paid to ensure that an attack like that on our native soil doesn't happen again. One of the news programs that my husband watches has the faces of the military personnel who have been killed each week overseas. So many are just baby faces, less than a decade older than my own son. Each one of those images represents a grieving family whose son or daughter will never enjoy another Fourth of July celebration with fireworks.

Today, in the midst of my children's wide-eyed amazement and laughter, I will choose to remember that our freedom has been bought at a terrible price. Many days, that fact escapes my conscious thinking. I am fortunate enough to not have any close family members or friends serving in harm's way in the armed forces right now. Many families are participating in today's celebration half-heartedly because of the absence of a beloved child, father, or husband. Today I will thank my God for their sacrifice and pray that He will comfort those left behind.

God bless America, land that I love.