Living in Europe afforded me a unique opportunity to view my American life and culture through a variety of different perspectives. I remember one conversation when a man was bad-mouthing the United States. I don’t normally seek to correct people, but I knew this man well enough that I said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full!” He responded, “What do you mean?” I replied, “It was the very Americans you are putting down who rescued your country and defeated Hitler. If it wasn’t for America and her allies you would still be occupied by goose-stepping Nazis.” I went on to say, “The national blessing you are now experiencing, the very food in your mouth, is the result of having lived as a free nation since the war ended – all because of the Americans you are putting down.”
This man is really no different than the rest of us. He had simply forgotten who paid the price that gave him the freedom to speak his mind and fill his mouth with the blessings of liberty. When we forget the history that delivered us into the place of our current blessing we can become callous and distant from the reality of our own history.
A young pastor can forget the price paid by previous generations of older saints who through faithful serving and giving created the very platform upon which the ministry of the young leader now stands. An older generation can forget what it was like to be young and how important it was to be released to plot your own course in life and ministry without being a slave to another person’s vision. A married couple can forget who they are and what made them fall in love in the first place. A stalled business can forget the shared passion of the original team that created the first product prototype. We can too easily forget the history someone else lived that became the vehicle that delivered us into this present moment of personal freedom. Remembering is a powerful form of revelation.
Freedom in any form has an original price paid by someone. Someone paid the price to become the source sacrifice that would release freedom for the generations to come – all from a single sacrifice. That original price can become hidden under layers of history and forgotten by following generations. In the end, all true freedom will be traced back to Jesus hanging on the cross to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus paid the price once and for all for all of humanity.
Today, begin to trace the freedom you now have back to the original price paid by someone somewhere in your history. Do two things with that discovery. Thank someone if they are still alive and then look for that place in your own life where you can make a sacrifice to set others free. At some point in the future when you are long gone there will be a conversation when someone begins to talk with their mouth full and the memory of your sacrifice will release a loving call to remembrance and a gentle correction.