Independence Day!

Today has been named by our nation’s historic Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, we declared that the thirteen American colonies were free of British rule. I’d say that freedom runs deep in my American veins but actually it’s deeper than nationality. Freedom is a human issue. Human beings can’t function without freedom any more than a flag can fly without wind.

Here’s a freedom story for you: Edith Eva Eger survived Auschwitz where her parents died in the gas chambers. But that was just the beginning of the horrors. A German guard broke the girl’s back, and she survived the death march through Austria. At the end of the war, Edith had wasted down to 40 pounds, being left on a pile of bodies for dead. But an American soldier saw her hand move, pulled her out, called the medics, and Edith lived to tell her story of survival. Her message focuses on freedom of choice, something she says can’t be stolen. She recalls dying of starvation in the camp:

“I chose to eat grass. And I sat on the ground, selecting one blade over the other, telling myself that even   under those conditions I still had a choice–which blade of grass I would eat.”

They took everything from Edith, but they could not take her freedom.

In memory of the freedom our nation’s fathers died for, and in memory of little Edith in the midst of hell on earth, let’s celebrate freedom today. The enemy can take our peace, our homes, our health, our livelihoods, our very lives, but God has built an impenetrable wall around the sanctum of the human will. Circumstances may devastate, humans and devils may torment, disease may encroach, fortunes may fail, but the treasure of freedom will always be ours. It may not be freedom to do as we please; our human rights may be horribly violated. But because the One stripped of everything but His love hung on a Cross for us, we have the ultimate say over how we think and respond to the world around us. How have you used your freedom?

19 thoughts on “Independence Day!

  1. ernest copley Reply

    I have the freedom to pick Blue Lake green beans and sweat in this humid Tennessee heat.My country girl wife of 49 years is canning them.Thank God for America.I proudly wave the flag and pray to the God of Heaven and Earth for the blessings of Life,Liberty & the Happiness I enjoy. This day is special to me because as a twice wounded combat medic in Vietnam I have witnessed life without the freedoms we take for granted. Remember we are only one generation away from losing our way of life. PLEASE pray for America and our leaders.

  2. Ardis Stenbakken Reply

    Dick and I have been privileged to know Edie for many years. Quite a story and quite an individual herself. I am thinking from your comments that you have read her book “The Choice.” We had her come to the GC for Annual Council one year and she told her story. Some of the German brethren (big husky guys) came to her and just wept and said how sorry they were as she hugged them.

    Happy Independence Day!

  3. Kristi Karnopp Reply

    Hi Jennifer Jill S! It is nice to have read your thoughts and read about a woman’s story during those days of death camps. I am using my freedom to write a blog and share what I have read in devotions, Bible verses, and Sabbath School lesson quarterlies. I just started June 17, 2019 because getting to church on Sabbath is not something I can do right now because I started hemodialysis after my transplanted kidney has decided to stop functioning properly at the beginning of the year. Began dialysis on April 24 in the hospital and have been outpatient dialysis since May 7. Feeling better without the fluid built up now. I had my transplant 31 1/2 years ago, thanks to my mom who is now 75 years old, and I have to praise God and thank Him for time I had with my first transplant since I was 17. I am now 49. God has been so good to me.

  4. Arthur Hamann Reply

    Thanks for the reminder of the incredible freedom we have in America

  5. marilyn Reply

    Hi Jenn, Our freedom sometimes takes us into dangerous waters…like a rip tide. I once ran free without thoughts of who Jesus is and His amazing love toward me. Now, after thirty or more years of learning at His feet, I see how incredibly incapable I am of holiness…in my own strenght. So, I lean more and more on the precious words, promises and words in special writings that help me to engage more in having faith over feeling, confidence instead of fear, hope and not despair. Knowing these words and praying them doesn’t get old. It becomes a refreshing rain on my thirsty soul. I am free to choose Him after a day of temptation and trial, or a sense of defeat. I know that He has my back in the way that will one day make sense to me even when it is unclear now. How He loves us, is such a mystery. My personal choice right now is to get involved in having a vacation bible school. As I share the promises with children in these events, I feel myself getting revived. I sense the urgency of sharing, and the joy of planting once again those seeds. I am glad that Jesus knew no real defeat…Wow.

  6. Audie Silber Reply

    Hi, Jennifer Jill! I love your message today, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on Edie’s book. I love stories about people whose lives are a triumph despite terrible odds.

    Thank-you to Ernest Copley and the Stenbakkens for their many years of sacrificial service to our country!

    I’ll look for you at Soquel Campmeeting. I’m so excited that I’ll get to see you again!

  7. George Odell Reply

    Thanks for the moving story – the Holocaust has a way of bringing out essential truths.

    I celebrate independence in my choice to honor God in myriad ways, big and little. Independence for me is the right to express myself without being told to shut up. My thoughts are free within me, but being told not to express them is confining and contrary to God’s plan for freedom of speech. So independence is promoted by people who are willing to listen to foreign or challenging ideas without being offended to the point of tuning out or squelching free expression.

    I also celebrate independence in worship by preferring folk/pop expressions of devotion instead of conventional triumphalist praise worship, which I have the freedom of thought to believe is misrepresenting God’s selfless, humble, meek character. We ain’t in Heaven yet, that’s for sure!

    • Jennifer Schwirzer Post authorReply

      George, you know I jibe with the folk thing. I love hymns, though, too. Always thank God for your witness and the person you are.

  8. Susan Harboldt Reply

    Thank you, Jill for that lovely reminder of the precious freedom that God’s very nature so freely gives us. I have been using my freedom, of late, to share with those who no longer have theirs because they are in jail. But even so, they can choose, through God’s grace, to be free on the inside. On the 4th, I found myself the only woman there to minister to all 8 pods of women prisoners! Those hungry for the Word gathered around their tray flap, sitting on the floor while I sat on a little bench on the outside. I made it to 6 pods within the allotted hour, and then the guard granted me extra time to get to the next 2. My soul was watered. “I was in prison and ye visited Me.” I tell them that is how closely Jesus identifies with them. When I come to visit them I put myself in his presence and He is right there with them and their times are in His hands. Tomorrow I plan to share this lovely thought about freedom of choice that you have shared. I am told that probably about 90% of the inmates are there on drug related charges. Oh to be able to plug them into the power of God to overcome addiction’s strangle-hold. Thank you so much for the inspirational thoughts!

    • Jennifer Schwirzer Post authorReply

      Beautiful, Susan. How awesome that you are using your gifts to minister to people in prison. That’s something I’ve never done extensively. What a blessing. Thanks for the story, too, it was very meaningful.

  9. Carol A. Thrash-Trumbo Reply

    Hi, Jennifer! So glad for your blog, social media posts, and all that you do to help move forward the wonderful message of freedom–the gospel.

    🙂 Ann

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