As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we stop and think of all we have to be thankful for and all that our freedom provides us.
I believe one of the most important things freedom gives us is choices choices that can change the direction of our lives and the lives of others around the world.
In fact, perhaps it is our freedom that most compels us to choose that others around the world should benefit from the same liberties we enjoy every day.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God cannot retain it.”
Part of retaining our freedom is compassionately responding to those in need. It is what keeps us humane, and just – it is part of what truly keeps us free.
I have often said that the greatest injustice of all is not poverty, hunger or disease. No, the greatest injustice facing millions around the world today is hopelessness. And likewise, to have freedom means to have hope. Hope for the future – a hope in the future – and a hope or a chance to change your future.
But in order to change the futures of millions around the world and restore hope, we must choose to be courageous – because “freedom lies in being bold”.
In my new book, Awake, I talk about the importance of these bold choices:
Years ago I read a memorable story in one of my favorite books, Good News about Injustice by Gary Haugen. He describes a minister asking the congregation to imagine the story of the feeding of the five thousand in a slightly different way. Of course we know the multitude was hungry, and the disciples found a little boy with five loaves of bread and two fishes. In the original story, Jesus multiplies the food and disciples have enough to feed the entire gathering of people.
But, in this revised version of the story, the preacher asks them to imagine if the disciples just kept taking the multiplied bread and fish without passing it out to the others. What if they just kept taking it and thanking Jesus for it? While the piles of fish and bread grow around them, they continue to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! – all the while never passing along the food to the people. And then beneath the mounting piles of food, the disciples could even be heard complaining to Jesus that he wasn’t doing anything about the hungry multitude.”
Gary goes on to pose the challenge, “We can say to God … Thank you for all the power, protection, freedom, and justice you have granted us, … Or we can ask, what have you given me, Father, that I might help those who don’t have power, who don’t have protection, who don’t have freedom, who don’t have justice?
It all comes down to bold choices that we make each and every day – decisions that can change lives, families, communities and yes, even nations.
This Independence Day, may we choose to be bold with our freedoms. May we use our liberties to restore hope to a hurting world. And in so doing, prove that we are truly free.
You can order a signed copy of Noel’s new book Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time today for $10 with free shipping.Visit awakebook.org to learn more.