You can find real freedom in any situation

It's the time of year when flags and fireworks and patriotic songs remind us we live in a free country. 

It's a good time to ask: How about you and me? Are we living free?Blog. Boy w. flag.  7.18

Each of us will answer that question differently. 

And real freedom has very little to do with the circumstances of our lives. Keep that in mind as you read these words from a man diagnosed with cancer:  

    "I'm a forward-looking person but also a living-in-the-moment     person So I wake up every day expecting to have a good day. It     may sound trite ... but life as you get older is about 20 percent of     what happens to you and about 80 percent how you react to it."                                                                                   --Nick Charles

You've probably heard that sort of thing said before. I have, too, but never with more power. 

Nick Charles said it when he was close to death--and knew it

Whether he was a Christian I don't know, but he spoke truth that applies to every one of us:

How we react to what happens to us determines our lives.

It's like that old advertising slogan: "It's what inside that counts." How we react and respond flows out of what's inside us, in the core of our being. 

I confess it took me way too long to really grasp this truth, but I gained a new understanding when I read an old book, Man's Search for Meaning, by the late Viktor Frankl, M.D., Ph.D.

Before World War II, Frankl, his wife and his parents lived the good life in Vienna, Austria. Then the Nazis invaded and like almost six million other Jews, they were sent to a Nazi concentration camp and immediately separated.

Viktor Frankl never saw any of them again

Right away the Nazis took away everyone he loved and all Frankl's possessions, even his wedding ring. At losing that precious reminder of his "before" life, he thought for awhile he could not go on.

Then as if a light bulb went on in his mind (a gift he later felt came from God) a great truth became clear to him and from that moment on, Viktor Frankl knew he would survive Auschwitz.  

Although he remained a prisoner, Frankl realized that no matter how the cruel guards mistreated him, only he possessed--and would possess as long as he breathed--the power to control his thoughts.  

He summed it up in this statement 

"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."    

Viktor Frankl in a death camp. Nick Charles close to death from cancer. Both of them very much in crisis mode, yet both expressed the same point:

We cannot control everything in our lives, but we do control what we think about it.

What we think about the circumstances of our lives dictates how we respond to what comes our way and to the people in our lives.

Knowing that gave them new courage to face what came next.

As usual, the Bible said it first 

For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he ....   Proverbs 23:7  KJV

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.    Isaiah 26:3  ESV

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.       2 Timothy 1:7  ESV       

Reread those verses and think what God gives to each believer to empower them to live fully and live free. 

It's a bit sobering to realize what that means

It takes just three words to sum up this principle: It's our choice. 

WE hang the labels on what happens to us.

WE choose to park our minds in a lousy place or in a good place.

WE decide how we will respond to what comes into our lives and to the people in our lives.

It doesn't matter whether we are young or old, rich or poor, in or out of crisis. Once we know this and really believe it is true, it can change our life.

As Viktor Frankl put it, it's the one freedom no one can take from us. It's the way each of us can "live free," unhampered by the idea that we are prisoners of circumstance.

And for those of us blessed to be living in the Land of the Free it's like the icing on the cake.

May God bless America, our beloved Country, now and in the future!

Praying, always,


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