CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the Declaration of Independence there is that priceless communiqué that the citizens of this country "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." People have died that these words might live. That's still going on today around the world, as people struggle against tyranny.
Freedom is a gift of God. Made in His image, He gave us the inner power to make choices. We can even choose against His will, and right off, it happened in the Garden of Eden. Delivered from bondage in Egypt, God's people soon plunged ahead as was their rightful choice, and that brought onto the stage of history the Prophets' Cry.
How very good of God to forgive more than seventy times seven that we might live responsibly before Him and with our neighbors.
Are we freed up, not just time-wise, but in forgiving others and being good neighbors in our community -- town, city, religious gatherings and politics?
Freedom is an awesome gift. It is not the absence of constraint or coercion, of necessity or being a shirker. We are free to communicate to anyone that "get-the-hell-out" attitude.
With the gift of freedom, we can move on in life, freely choosing what pays off for us. With each new year, we stand on the boundary of wonderful possibilities. Our question should not be, "What does 2013 hold for me," but "What will I bring to others," remembering that God has gifted us with freedom and that He sets us free again and again, by His mercy. Of all the examinations I have taken, both academically and medically, the most difficult is self-examination. It is vastly rewarding because it frees us up.
Freedom is narrow indeed without good ethics. We are called "to do justly" and to walk the way of kindness and mercy.
You and I may not feel all that important on any given day. But we are God's children, whether we are far from Him or near. We are a part of a grand experiment of whether we can be enlightened and be a source of enlightenment -- light for our community, our country, the world.
May God free us up to be all that we can be by His grace. May we be moved to share the wealth of His goodness and mercy.
Dr. Lamb is parish associate at First Presbyterian Church, Charleston