Hello there.

Today, I want to write about freedom. I want to write about freedom because this year, I’ve learned a lot about it.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving from Iowa to Missouri. We took one of the final turns towards our destination, and realized that we were about to enter an army post. We all passed up our drivers licences to get through the gate, and when we got to the church, we found a party waiting for us. They had decorated, catered a really nice meal, and gotten dressed up to welcome us into their community. We all looked rather shambly, clad in our sweatpants, messy hair and a twelve-hour-drive-kind-of-exhausted look. Now, we drive to a different place every night, we never really know what to expect, but this was a welcome we hadn’t quite seen before. It was beautiful.

Staying at this army post was a really eye-opening experience. We were able to hear all about what the life of an army family is like and the countless sacrifices these people make. My host parents had been married for thirteen years, but had only actually been together for three of those years. I was particularly inspired by my host mom and her profound selflessness. She had raised three boys and a girl who are all very close in age, homeschooled them, all while worrying about and longing for her husband’s safety. Her life is lived with complete selflessness and reliance on the Lord. Raw beauty.

This experience gave me a new perspective on my “civilian life” as they called it. I take so many things for granted that might not be possible if these people hadn’t given their lives to the service of my country. This kind of sacrifice reminds me of someone else I know and have talked about to hundreds of students this year – Jesus. The sacrifice he made and the profound humility it took to be rejected in such an awful way by the very people he was giving his life for is something that I take for granted far too much. If he hadn’t fought for me, loved me, and died for me, and you, and the people we love, we would have nothing. No hope, no real joy, no authentic love and no freedom.

We got to climb a mountain a few days ago in Little Rock, Arkansas. When Brian and I were planning this adventure, I had looked at pictures and talked to some of the locals about it beforehand. Even still, I was NOT prepared for the breathtaking view that was awaiting us at the summit of this mountain. This is a lot like the freedom that Jesus offers us. It can’t be explained in a picture, a lecture, or a blog post.

It can’t be understood until it’s felt.

I think life is the process of climbing this mountain to freedom. We want to stop and take pictures at various points along the way, thinking ‘this has got to be the best view – oh wait – no this one is’ and we won’t reach the summit until we reach heaven, but we get tastes of it along the way. This year, I’ve tasted this freedom in prayer, in praise and worship and in the love and acceptance of my teammates. Freedom to love, to laugh, to sing, to be myself. This freedom is glorious, it’s for everyone, and it’s all because of that rugged cross.

Last night, after the retreat we put on for eighth graders, the woman who was our contact person for the retreat said something that brought us all a lot of joy. She explained that throughout the retreat she saw the students go from being really guarded and self-conscious to being really comfortable and full of joy. “As they were leaving, I saw the look in their eyes. I saw the freedom you shared with them.” What a privilege it is for us to share this beautiful gift we’ve been given.  

Thanks for reading this blog post and for keeping up with our team. We wish you a beautiful Lent and a very happy Easter. Remember that you are free! God Bless!

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