Even as an adult, I love fireworks — the small ones fascinate me, too. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take in the moving and heart-stirring fireworks display in Washington, D.C. Our nation's capital seems to be the most fitting place for fireworks and all they represent: rocket's red glare, bombs bursting in air, freedom, honor, sacrifice, drama, wonder and celebration. I let my mind drift back to the courageous days of our forefathers. Lights, colors and sounds on the outside and feeling and emotion on the inside.
Throughout America this week, we celebrate our country's birthday and commemorate winning our freedom from England. Freedom is a wonderful feeling, a state (literally and figuratively) of mind and a privilege. I taught overseas in Kenya after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy, in Uganda while a civil war was raging, and in Iraq during the war and U.S. occupation in 2007. Until I visited and lived with people in these oppressed and persecuted areas, I really didn't understand the magnitude and insidious ramifications of persecution or the powerful meaning of freedom.
Freedom has a different meaning for each person, but the universal definition centers on messages such as; "I have no master." "I get to call the shots." "I am in control of my own destiny." Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. If we look deep in our hearts, we are already aware of this sobering reality—we aren't really free. It's just a trick. We will always serve a master. God designed us—and wired into our DNA—the desire and need to worship Him. Satan knows how God wired us and takes advantage of this ingrained characteristic by putting many inadequate options in front of us. The first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," is God's warning and instruction regarding Satan's insurgent attack on our hearts and minds.
So, we have two choices: God, whose orders, commands, wishes, desires, authority, agenda, policies and rules are perfect. He is the loving King of this universe. There is no other ruler who will serve us more, let alone help us rise in HIS kingdom.
Our other choice of a master is Satan, leader of the rebel party, who's trying to overthrow God's benevolent, all-caring regime and use us in his insurgency. He does this by feeding our fleshly agenda and giving us what we demand. But he's harmful. He wants to buy our allegiance. He vies for our loyalty by tricking us into believing that we don't need God. Satan gives the illusion that we can rule ourselves—that we don't need a master. But Satan doesn't care about us; he cares only for his agenda.
Now the good news! We have freedom in the most important aspect of our lives. We can choose which master to follow and obey. With this freedom comes grave responsibility. You see, if we don't actively choose God to be our master, then our natural inclination is to reject God's authority. When we reject God, we allow our flesh to rule our decisions, effectively voting Satan and his policies into office. Because Satan lets us do the "pleasurable" activities we crave, we easily buy into his election platform.
Genesis 1:1 tells us that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." So regardless of how Satan tries to deceive us, God is the master and creator who rules over all—even Satan—and God decides Satan's destiny, as well as the destiny of every one of us.
On July 4th, enjoy the festivities that celebrate our country's freedom. Mourn with those who lost someone who fought to maintain this freedom. Above all else, honor those who died for our freedom of choice—especially Jesus Christ—by exercising that freedom to choose your ultimate master. Our daily growth, fulfillment and eternal destiny depend on it. Only one true master genuinely cares enough to die for us—and He actually did! This master wants to share His wonderful royal palace forever and invites all of us to inherit eternal riches far beyond our imagination. My life changed when I chose Jesus to be not only my Savior, but also the Lord of my life. The master we pick is the most important life-altering decision we make everyday, so choose well.
Now, celebrate that choice with those awe-inspiring fireworks.