Healing Line

Healing Line

Freedom

by Linda Strickland
Oct/Nov 2008

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”
(Abraham Lincoln, in his second Inaugural Address — March 4, 1865. A month later he was assassinated)

A story is told about Abraham Lincoln that reflects why he was one of our nation’s greatest presidents. One day, Mr. Lincoln was in a town square where slaves were being sold. As he drew closer, he saw a very old and sad looking slave standing on the block while an auctioneer shouted a price to the crowd that represented what his life was worth. It became obvious that no one was going to bid, so with a heart full of compassion, he decided to buy the slave himself. After the transaction was made, the slave stood before him with all of his worldly possessions tied together on his back. With a defeated and weary voice, the slave asked him where they were going. Mr. Lincoln smiled and told him that he could go anywhere he wanted because he was now free. After a lifetime of belonging to others, the old slave could not grasp what had been said to him and once again asked where they were going. With understanding, Mr. Lincoln told him that his only reason in purchasing him was to buy his freedom, and that he could now choose anywhere he wanted to go. Stunned, and with full comprehension of what he had just been told, the old slave fell to the ground and wept. After a few moments the slave composed himself, stood up, faced Mr. Lincoln and with tears in his eyes said, “Because you have bought my freedom, I choose to go with you!”

I love this story. A price was paid by a person who did not owe it, at a cost the one who owed it could not afford to pay. This reminds me of another story that happened 1800 years before Abraham Lincoln lived. Only this time the price was paid on a cross, and the cost was so high that it bought freedom for everyone willing to accept it.

I once saw a bumper sticker that read “If you had been the only one, Jesus still would have died for you.” That kind of love overwhelms me. It starts at the top of my head and floods my whole being. It’s truly hard to imagine. The only thing that comes close to helping me understand this kind of love is, as a parent, the love I have for my child.

Recently my husband gave a sermon where he used, as an example, an incident that happened in our family when our three year old son almost choked to death. Thank God, and because of the heroic efforts of my husband, his life was spared; but we came very close to losing our child that day. As I listened, the whole story came flooding back to me as if it had just happened. My eyes stung with tears as I remembered every detail, and felt each emotion all over again. I even remembered standing there watching the life disappear from my son, ready to make deals with God….offering to trade places with him.

It rocks me to my core to realize that this is how Jesus feels about me….and how He willingly chose to be nailed to that cross. Just for me – to purchase my freedom.

Galatians 5:1 tells us that “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” (The Message)

What struck me about the slave in the Abraham Lincoln story was his response to freedom. You would think that he would have run away as fast as he could; never looking back. Instead, he bound himself to the one who bought his freedom. What makes someone react like that?

One definition of freedom is: having personal liberty, being able to choose for yourself. I think that this slave knew the value of the gift he had been given, and was naturally drawn to the giver because of it. So his first act of freedom was to make a choice…..a choice that would keep him close to his savior.

I feel that way as well. I am so captivated by my Savior and what He has done for me that I can’t bear to live without Him! “Lord Jesus, thank you for the price you paid for me on the cross. And because you have bought my freedom, I choose to go with you!”

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed…”
(Jesus Christ, in a synagogue in Nazareth—Luke 4:18. Two years later he was crucified.)


Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Oct/Nov 2008 Issue