Originally published on July 1st 2016
The Fourth of July has meant many things to me throughout the years, but the one constant has been the underlying message of freedom that is contained in this date. My definition of freedom, however, has changed drastically since Christ saved me from a life of bondage. In my teen years the Fourth of July always meant that I was free to enjoy a nice cold beer at six in the morning as I pondered how much money I would make at the keg party I was throwing later that day. I was free to light up a joint and enjoy it’s soothing powers as the smell of the steaks grilling on the barbecue wafted up and pleased my senses. I was free to enjoy life without fear of any repercussions. But oh how wrong I was. Prison taught me very well.
Now the Fourth of July took on a new meaning. I was now “free” to get woken up at five in the morning by a prison guard screaming “Get up inmate! Time for chow!” I was free to enjoy a meat patty the size of a silver dollar pancake that they mistakenly called a hamburger. I was free to pine away for even a one word letter from someone in my family, just to know someone still cared. Ninety nine percent of the time I was disappointed.
More importantly I was now free to ponder the decisions I made in my life that led me to the place I now found myself. I began to realize that what I thought was freedom was really bondage. I also began to realize that there was someone who cared so much for me that he gave the life of his only Son so that I may have life. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Christ freed me from a life of addiction and wrong thinking, and he can do it for you too.
Now that I’m out of prison and about to celebrate my first Fourth of July completely free for the first time in my life, my definition of freedom is altogether different. Today I am free to wake up at six in the morning and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while I meditate on how grateful I am to be alive. I am free to eat a breakfast of my choice, and eat it at my pace. I am free to enjoy the sight of a spectacular sunset on the beach and feel the ocean lap over my feet. I am free to walk down the street without fear of being handcuffed and thrown into a cold dark cell. Most importantly, I am free to walk by faith and know on the deepest level possible that God has me wrapped in His ever loving arms and will never let go of me. I am free to be free.
by Robert Gallant