The sign was familiar as we neared the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. It was a picture of fighter planes flying low over the land just like they did every day over our house. The slogan read: “It’s the sound of freedom.” I was twelve years old and I was going door to door to hand out literature with my church group. Hoping to win some converts, we were excited to discover a couple of young Navy seamen with religious books spread out on their kitchen table.
They were twin brothers and they were looking for a church. They were excited to take the book we gave them and came to church the next week. My parents invited them over for lunch and they immediately offered to help with my youth group. They wasted no time in joining our church through baptism.
As the months went by they came over for lunch so often we began to think of them like family. One day they surprised us by buying an entire dining set complete with six chairs in a style my mom liked. One of them offered to take me for a ride in their ’57 Chevy. To my parent’s credit, they would never let me out of their sight.
These guys were my heroes. They fought for my freedom and they taught me how to call cadence and tie knots. When one was gone for months at sea, I wrote him and he sent me postcards from exotic places. Returning months later, he brought a new wife who barely knew English. A white man choosing a wife of color never seemed like a racist to me.
We moved away and lost track of them for over twenty years. Then one day I saw one of my old friends on the news. It was the horror of the Oklahoma City Bombing that caught my eye and I was surprised to hear one of these guys defending those responsible. Something had changed since I had known him. I read later they suspected he had a part to play but no one could prove it. This week I discovered that both of these brothers have been on trial for planting a bomb for a racist group. The article* told of one brother’s conviction for domestic terrorism.
What exactly is the sound of freedom?
- Is it a fighter plane roaring over the treetops?
- Is it the voice of a soldier reassuring a child and pulling her out of rubble?
- Is it a bomb exploding over Hiroshima?
- Is it the right to take someone’s life because they have a different belief system?
For some people the lines between right and wrong become blurred. How can a soldier go from protecting freedom and human life to stealing it? How do people cross over from hero to evil? It must not be too difficult because the headlines are full of stories of hate crimes and good love gone bad. At what point does the love of power exceed the power of love?
A hero is someone who understands
the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
God, as the author of all freedom, doesn’t stop people and angels from misusing their freedom–even when they use their power to harm others. God provides freedom willingly even though some people will use their freedom to burn the symbol of that freedom. Others will use their freedom to hate, but eventually such hate will only enslave them.
We need boundaries in this world to protect us from those who are abusing their freedom. We need honorable servicemen and women to protect those boundaries. God himself sets boundaries, but He never uses his power for hate. Someday such boundaries will no longer be drawn between the borders of countries and enforced by guns, but will be complete in the minds of those who know Jesus.
Someday we will meet at the grand memorial wall where everyone–those who fought the good fight of faith and those who abused their power will bow down to Jesus. Jesus, the one who champions freedom for all will allow those who know him to enter the gates of the city and live in a society of freedom forever. Those who enter will only use their power for love and there will be no hate in all God’s holy mountain.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17
What sound are you making with your freedom?
*I won’t even include the link or their names because such behavior doesn’t deserve a human face—
I believe the ultimate face of such terrorism is Satan.