"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.
I confess that perhaps the hardest times for me to write devotionals are on Christian holidays. I think I must be so profound, because after all, everyone writes about that particular holiday.
So when I prayed about this post, I realized that God had already given me the answer in my personal devotionals, and Patrick Henry, one of my favorite Colonial men, gave me the quote.
This week I have been studying the interpersonal relationships of David in I and II Samuel. Time and again, I saw David sacrifice himself for others, in particular for those who hated him. He mourned at the death of King Saul and his sons. The man had sought to kill David, making David a homeless vagabond, wandering through the wilderness for years. Later, things seem to be going King David's way until his son snatches the kingdom from him. David flees for his life again. And what does he say when he learns Absalom, his son, is dead? "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (II Samuel 18:33b).
David loved enough to desire to die in his wicked son's place.
When the Puritans came to New England they desired a better life for their children and their children's children. Many died for the dream. When the Patriots fought against the British, many knew they would die. They were willing to do so because they believed they were making a better future for those who would live after them. To God be the glory their deaths were not in vain. Americans obtained liberty.
When Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death!" I wonder if he considered that Christ chose death so that we might have liberty. With an even greater passion than Patrick Henry, Jesus looked across the ages and saw me. He knew the only way to free me from the chains of sin and the penalty of death was to offer Himself in my place. Looking at the chains that bound me and at Death leading me to hell, He in essence said, "I give you liberty through my death."
Jesus looked at the cross with more love and courage than the Patriots--and their courage and love was indeed great. He'd given so much more than they, and they had given much. I am grateful for those men and women's tremendous sacrifice, and I am grateful for the sacrifice of Christ.
Because He died, I have liberty.