Thursday, July 4, 2013

Choose the Golden Door

Today is July 4th; a day of barbeques and apple pie; patriotic parades and fireworks.  It is a jubilant day here in the USA, and rightfully so.  We celebrate the birth of a nation fundamentally different from any other at the time of its conception; a nation that inspired incredible sacrifice by the men and women who founded it and the dreams of countless thousands since that time.  At the core of its foundational principles is the freedom of choice.  We can choose to speak--or be silent; to assemble with others--or remain alone; to carry a weapon--or to employ other defenses; to worship--or to eschew religion in any form.  All of these choices, and so many more, are within our purview each day--so long as we do not choose in ways that invade the rights of others to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

How many empires have been founded on individual choice, rather than on the will of the group?   How many great nations have been able to bind the individual sacrifices of many into a whole that defines each person AND the entire nation?  While this country celebrates those heroes and their sacrifices, both historical and current, we do not elevate them to the position of royalty.  For in that act of setting some individuals as intrinsically superior to others, we deny the basis of our fundamental belief that all men are created equal and all are able to pursue their own course in this world.  

In this essential belief, we see the hand of God at work in the framing of this nation.  There is nothing more important to God than our freedom to choose.  Sin would not exist were it not for our freedom to choose.  We would not have hope for the rescue from sin if not for our freedom to choose the price paid for us on Calvary.  God will not populate Heaven with those who do not want to be there, or with those who do not love Him.  He will not dictate our love or our actions, but He will answer our cry to be rescued when we do choose Him.

I've never visited the Statue of Liberty--perhaps someday I shall have that opportunity--but I have always loved the poem "The New Colossus", by Emma Lazarus, that is engraved on a tablet inside the pedestal:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

What a lovely description of the gift offered by this country called The United States of America!  You don't have to be someone the world considers "great" to be accepted in this country.  We believe you can start from nothing and become anything you choose to work toward.  The key to success begins with the "yearning to breathe free".
I challenge you to re-read it and imagine this is the voice of the Savior calling out to those who ache for more than what this world has to offer.  Are you tired?  Poor?  Yearning for freedom?  What God offers is His perfect rest, His riches in glory, and His freedom from bondage to sin--nothing in this world can compare!  He lifts His lamp beside the Golden Door and invites us, one and all, to enter in.