Land of the Free

4th of July: Land of the Free

I have never sweat more in my life than I have this past week. Our group of interns just finished up with a rigorous 6-day long camp with high school athletes and today we are relaxing, enjoying community under the hot sun, grilling burgers, and celebrating the day of independence for our great nation in some red, white, & blue! We could never do it justice, however, to celebrate in a way that is truly worthy of our independence. Independence is so much more than grilling, fireworks, or colors on a flag, but an innate identity so many of us are born with that we lose sight of the significance behind what it really means. It is getting to wake up every day and not be afraid, getting up every day and deciding whether or not we actually want to go to school or go to work, posting whatever you want on social media because no one can control what you say, getting to travel wherever, make friends with whoever, and believe in whatever you want… because someone fought and died for us. Someone put their life on the line so that we could have our life in the comfort that we do. How do you actually celebrate that? How can you respond in a way that gives enough thanks for someone doing something like that for you? We can’t really.. we can try and this is important, but we should and hopefully will never reach a point where we are finished celebrating, finished praising, finished remembering. I was able to get a deeper understanding of this during our camp with the high schoolers a few days ago. The camp was called UTC, short for the Ultimate Training Camp. This is a camp that is designed to push athletes to their limits, test their strength, and lead them to a point where they cannot succeed on their own. In that moment where they are at their weakest, where they are at the end of themselves, they need to rely on God. In our modern day view of sport, however, we teach something quite different. It is all about the athlete, you, playing the best you can, being the best you can, and making it as big as you can. Sport has become an industry where we glorify and pour overwhelming amounts of praise on athletes and teams who play the best. They adopt this lavish lifestyle full of money, fame and anything they could have ever dreamed of and we have set them as a standard to blindly follow and do the same because that is what we have led people to believe that they want and that it is fulfilling. But with our camp, we are trying to set a new precedent and raise up a new generation of athletes who can lead the way and point the world to something bigger than themselves. In that moment in the camp where the athletes do come to the end of themselves, where they do have to rely on God, it is the most beautiful thing you will ever experience. Every athlete, one by one, you see be overcome with such an amazing joy that they realize how weak they are and how strong their Savior is, they realize with a deeper intimacy what Christ did for them and how much he loves them, they realize that they are not expected to be anything more than they are, win or lose.. and they are set free. Set free from the pressure of performing, set free from the pressure of being perfect, and set free to experience that they can play sport for the sake of worshipping their incredible God that has done so much for them and let this fuel them to play. This is independence. This is someone dying for us, defeating sin, and finishing everything on the cross so that we could live in the newness of life. And I am so selfish sitting here thinking that I wish I could have experienced what they experienced, wishing I could have been through it versus witnessing it. But on the day of our nation’s Independence, I am reminded of an even greater independence that I do not need to work for, that I do not need to “experience” like those campers, because every day I open my eyes and breathe is a moment where I can get to live out the unending grace and mercy bestowed upon me. For I was declared free from the very beginning.

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Thank you Jesus.

Happy Independence Day

Written by Matt, XP Intern