Freedom…is never free. You have heard that many times. Maybe it has become such an oft-spoken phrase, especially at times of memorials, that it has become a cliché. Unless you have been directly impacted by circumstances that really hit close to home, this is a flippant comment. But I am 81, and I was a child in WW II. My dad and my uncles volunteered and spent three to five years each serving our nation. By the grace of God, all came home alive. I think I was eight, and one morning I woke up with, surprisingly, someone in my bed next to me. It was my dad. A strong memory!
As I reflected on these times as well as other events that have marked our country’s history this past Memorial weekend, I was moved by the countless number of men and women that have served, many dying, since mid 1700. These, and their families, have paid some level of price. And so it continues today. I love saluting them, thanking them, even occasionally buying their meal. I know some of you do the same, or more.
Powerless without God
It also made me reflect on a truth in scripture that really defines the first 300+ years of our nation. It’s found in Psalms. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (127.1b ESV). It could easily say county, state or nation. Which says, you can have the mightiest ‘army’ in history, but unless the mighty hand of God of the universe is sovereign over peoples and nations, even families, which comprise a nation, you are powerless.
I challenge you to read Daniel 4 and you will see how the mightiest man in the world, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conqueror and ruler of the known world was brought to his knees, literally. Through his arrogance and pride, he brought the discipline of the Lord upon himself, even living seven years in the open fields eating grass and living an animal’s life. He finally got it, acknowledged God as the Lord of the universe, repented, and was restored. As my friend John Maisel reminds me often; “don’t mess with (step on) God’s glory”.
God is the source of wisdom and strength
Which brings me to you fathers and how you guide your family and who is the one you are looking to for wisdom and strength. Maybe you are like many; you see yourself as the ‘king’ of your small kingdom. I earn the income, I am the boss (my way or no way), I know what’s best for everyone and so on. Really? Did you just read Daniel 4? I’ll save you the trouble. “Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (vs.30 ESV) Is it a stretch to see yourself in this picture? Be honest!
If in any way it is, you are robbing God of his glory, and it simply will not work. See what happened next. ‘While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar”’ (vs. 31-33a ESV).
Fathers, if you truly desire to be the dad…God wants you to be; then humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, remove yourself from the throne of your heart, and put the Lord back there where he rightfully belongs. King Neb will tell you, do it soon—it’s a whole lot more pleasant than eating grass for seven years. Let God build your kingdom—it will be glorious because he will receive the glory. As a result, you will experience true freedom.