I recently found the following account online and thought it was appropriate for this month’s Pastor’s Power
In the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, there’s a special display for a rickety, home-made aluminum kayak. This tiny, makeshift boat seems oddly out of place in the midst of displays for impressive Navy vessels and artifacts from significant battles on the sea. But a bronze plaque tells museum visitors the story behind this kayak’s heroic makers.
In 1966, an auto mechanic named Laureano and his wife Consuelo decided that they could no longer live under
the oppression of Cuba’s totalitarian regime. After spending months collecting scrap metal, they pieced together
a boat just barely big enough for two small people. Then Laureano jury-rigged a small lawn mower engine on the back of the kayak.
After months of planning, on a moonless September night, sitting back to back and wearing only their swimming suits, they set out in the treacherous Straits of Florida. They had only enough water and food for a couple of days. Finally, after they had floated in open water for over 70 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard found and rescued the couple just south of Alligator Reef Light in the Florida Keys.
Was it worth the risk to find freedom? Laureano thought so. Years later, he said, “When one has grown up in liberty, you realize it is important to have freedom. We lived in the enormous prison which is Cuba, where one’s life is not worth one crumb. Where one goes out into the street and does not know whether or not one will return to one’s home, because the political police can arrest you without any warning and put you in prison. Before this could happen to us, we thought that going into the ocean, and risking death or being eaten by sharks, is a million times better than to stay suffering under political oppression.”
Food for thought, isn’t it? This remarkable story of courage and perseverance in the face of enormous danger reminds us that there is a deep longing in every human heart to experience at any cost the fresh air of political
freedom. As we reflect this month on Independence Day, the day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776, we should pause and be eternally grateful for the lavish abundance of freedoms we have the privilege of enjoying as American citizens.
Just as there is a deep longing in every human heart to experience political freedom, there is also a deep longing in every human heart to find the spiritual freedom that only Christ can provide. And risking everything to possess our freedom in Christ, just as Laureano and Consuelo did for freedom from oppression, is a million times better than remaining in spiritual bondage. Thankfully, freedom in Christ is available to all and is free of cost to us by faith, but costing our Savior, Jesus, His precious blood in death on a Roman cross (1 Pet. 1:19).
As American citizens, we should never take our liberty for granted (freedom is never free – it costs the lives of brave Americans to provide it and maintain it and it can apathetically be lost by those who do not diligently defend it) or abuse our privileges of political freedom, nor the privileges of others. We must likewise do the same as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Take to heart God’s Word in Gal. 5:13-14: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” And further absorb God’s Word in 1 Pet. 2:16-17:
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor (today, that’s our local, state, and national leaders).”
So, my friends, I encourage you as citizens of the greatest nation in the world and as citizens of the one and only
eternal Kingdom of God, enjoy your freedoms this month as Christians and demonstrate your appreciation for those freedoms by living free in Christ, not openly indulging the flesh or clandestinely covering up evil. By doing so, you will spiritually strengthen your Christian witness and morally strengthen the community, state, and country in which you live.
Have a great Fourth and month of July!
Your friend & pastor,