Most who are reading this will never really be able to appreciate fully what it meant to be liberated after five years of German occupation during WW2. We have never had to do without the many things we take for granted today. Things like food basics, running water, electricity and the freedom to come and go at will etc.
We try to imagine what it was like back then but because we were not the there we would find it difficult to identify with that type of hardship, like those who lived through these times of oppression. And so the wonderful liberty that eventually followed was something that only those dear folks could truly appreciate.
The day our Island celebrated the 70th anniversary of our liberation was a very special day. Seventy years is a long time after all! Plenty of time in fact to allow feelings of thankfulness and joy to dissolve into what we see today when a truly thankful heart is a rare human trait.
I wonder how many of us for example truly appreciate the liberty we enjoy today, and the tremendous cost it took to bring this to us! We may be struggling a little on account of the current economic crisis but we certainly know nothing of the suffering the Jersey folks endured during those dark days so long ago. We have a tendency to take the wonderful privileges we enjoy for granted. We don't mean to but human nature so quickly forgets the past and expects everything to be at hand without even a thought.
Although we may not have been living here during those five long years when Jersey was under German occupation, today we are all under a type of bondage and oppression without even realizing it! We are under enemy occupation that keeps us under control, and as long as we don't ask any questions we are allowed to feel comfortable with this regime. However, we are far removed from the life we ought to be living and from the joy and peace which ought to be our portion.
Perhaps we can remember times when we have felt a void that nothing on this earth could fill, and we found ourselves asking questions like: "What is my life all about?" "Where am I going?" That uncomfortable feeling we get is on account of being separated from the Giver of abundant life, and the questions we ask will lead us to the One who has the answers - if we pursue them. He has promised that:
Ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 26: 13
You've been presented with 'good news / bad news' scenarios before haven't you? Well, here's some 'good news' and 'bad news' that you really need to know in order to appreciate what God wants you to know and eventually come into the good of.
That rather unpopular little word called sin is the thing that separates us from the living God and all the goodness that ought to be our portion and keeps us from being the complete persons we ought to be. We would only have to take a look at the Ten Commandments to quickly understand that we have fallen very short of God's excellent standards, and even our own conscience tells us that there are many things that we have done in our lives which were wrong! These are the result of who we are by nature, and are rather like the fruit of a 'tree' that is corrupt! Ultimately, if we were to die in this condition we would be separated from Him forever! How terrible, especially when we learn that God has provided the remedy for our dilemma, and this leads us to the 'good news' part of what this article is all about.
God's answer to our great problem, is His own beloved Son. He came into this world as a human baby, and grew up into a man who performed all types of miracles that only God could do. Then to a cruel cross He was taken after allowing mankind to do their worst to Him. But it was there in that horrible place that He endured what no normal man could endure. The Bible tells us that He was bearing in His own body the burden of our sin and all the punishment it rightly deserves. God was punishing His Son instead of us! There on the cross He was dying in our place so that we may be truly free from sin's awful power and consequences, and from its guilt and shame - forever!
Perhaps you are beginning to realize that without God in our lives we are not as free as we thought we were, but rather we are in very great need of being liberated. Imagine how wonderful it would be to no longer have the burden of guilt to carry around anymore but to have a clear conscience. How wonderful it would be to know that all is well with our soul, and not have to be afraid of dying. Or to be able to make wise choices rather than the wrong ones all the time, and what comfort to know that we would never be all alone again.
Was it a cold bottle of water on a hot sunny day? A lovely meal after a long day's hard work? A Doctor's remedy after a period of illness? A call from a friend during a lonely hour? Or better still, how about a gift, or a pardon, or even love we know we don't deserve? Well, God has given these things to us, and much more besides. His gift to us is eternal life through His Son. His pardon from our sins is because Jesus died in our place all because of His great love freely bestowed upon us who are undeserving. And with His Son comes everything else!
All this can only be truly appreciated when individual people understand their individual need before a holy God and are prepared to respond individually to His great and unmeasurable act of love and mercy. An earnest cry from a repentant heart is what God is waiting for if we are to be guaranteed the pardon and peace that He is waiting to freely give. There's nothing we could ever do to acquire this on our own but we are required by God to trust in what He has already done when the greatest battle was fought and won by His beloved Son on the cross.
There are not many folks left to remember those dark days of oppression here on Jersey soil over seventy years ago or to remember and appreciate the day when 'our dear Channel Islands' were liberated - but there are some! Full well they remember and will never forget. Perhaps for some that liberation came at tremendous personal cost as their loved ones who went off to war never returned!
Let us therefore remember and never forget that the liberty from sin that God freely offers to us comes at tremendous cost to Himself. Perhaps if we were to allow our hearts to be touched personally by such undeserved and great love we would be asking ourselves the question:
"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?"
Psalm 116: 12
The Hymn writer couldn't have expressed a better answer to such a question when he wrote these lovely words:
The responsibility is now yours to respond in like manner if ever you are to enjoy and appreciate fully the liberty from sin God has in store for you!