If you live long enough, you realize freedom is never free.
It’s something we pause to remember as a nation on Memorial Day. We remember the many men and women who have laid down their lives so that we, our family, our neighbors, our friends, our nation, can be free, and it is a debt we can never repay.
For a father and a grandfather who were both willing to give seasons of their lives for the service and protection of our country to safeguard our freedoms, I am so thankful.
My handsome dad graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1964 and served for five years on nuclear submarines during the Cold War.
My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific and during his two week leave during the middle of the war came back to the States to marry my grandmother, Suzanne. She traveled by train to San Francisco to meet him with her wedding ring sewn into the inside of her undergarments. They were married, honeymooned for a few days, then she waved goodbye to him as he stood on the deck of his destroyer, not knowing if she would ever see him again. For his decision to serve and her decision to love and pray him through the war, I am forever grateful.
But there is another freedom for which I am thankful today, a freedom I don’t think on often enough.
And that is the freedom of reading, understanding, and knowing God’s Word in my language.
There are 7 billion people on the earth today and approximately 7000 different languages are spoken. But here are some sobering statistics:
- Of the 7000 languages spoken on the earth today, only 706 have the complete Bible in their language.
- Only 1,568 languages have the New Testament translated into their language.
- There are 2,010 languages on the earth today left with no Scripture in their language.
Stop for a moment and think about that.
#1 – Think about the immense gift that it is that you and I speak a language that has the whole Bible translated in a language we understand.
We have the book of Psalms to help us in our laments and our praise. We have the book of Genesis to give us understanding and knowledge of who made us and that we are formed in the image of God. We have the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament to show us the sinful cycle of the human heart and to give us the knowledge that we are all in desperate need of a Savior. And we have the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – to show us the Savior who has come. We know the name Jesus Christ and that He died to set us all free – free from the slavery of sin and bondage of the darkness of the human heart.
#2 – Think about the cost that was involved in giving us the Bible in a language that we can speak.
This is a cost I do not think about often enough, and frankly, a cost I didn’t even know had been paid until several years ago. But many men and women gave their lives so that we could have the whole Bible in English. Up until 1611 AD, Bibles for English speaking people were written and read in Latin. The nation of England was founded in 927 A.D., yet it took almost 700 years for an English-speaking nation with English-speaking people to have the freedom to read their Bibles in a language they understood.
700 years. Our nation has been in existence for less than 250 years. Yet we have had full and complete access to all of Scripture in our language for every single year we have been in existence. Why do we enjoy the freedoms we enjoy? Simply put, it’s because we have had access to the life-giving, restorative, healing, freedom-inducing Word of God.
We were not given this freedom without great cost. A man named William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake in England for originally translating the Bible for English-speaking people into English, and a group of men and women named The Covenanters were imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their belief that God was their only king. They died to gain the freedom to worship Him in the way they chose reading the Scriptures in the English language.
Author David Teems writes about the end of Tyndale’s life, “A rope was fitted through a hole in the upright beam and curled around his neck. At the urging of the magistrate, and just before the flame was lit, with all the necessary parties present, the rope was pulled with sufficient force to end his life. No symbol went unused. By strangling Tyndale, the Church thought to silence him forever. They were wrong.”
Were they ever! Tyndale’s work of translation continues today to give the 360 million people who speak English as their first language and the 1.35 billion people who know the English language, access to knowing the life-giving words of the Gospel – Jesus Christ came to set us free.
Would you consider something with me as we celebrate and remember those who have died so that we could be free?
#1 – Remember to thank the men and women you know who have given their lives to serve, protect, and defend the freedoms of our country.
#2 – Remember to thank God for those who have given their lives to give you the freedom to read His Word in a language you know, love, and can understand. (This summer, consider reading a biography about the lives of these people. Here are two I have read and can recommend: Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters by Jock Purves and Tyndale by David Teems.)
#3 – Remember the Bibleless. Remember those 2,010 languages on the earth today, languages that represent 171 million people, who still have no access to the Word of God in a language they understand.
Consider learning more about the Bibleless by learning about the work being done among them through ministries like The Seed Company. Spend some time on their website reading stories about translators all over the world who are giving their lives for people to have God’s Word in their heart language just as Tyndale gave his life for us.
Consider adopting a people group and language project to pray for and to give to. Giving to and praying for the Bibleless makes life more alive, more exciting, and more worthwhile, not less. When you give of your time and resources to set other people free with the same freedoms you have been given, joy is unlocked and unleashed in your heart.
You and your family can become a prayer partner for an unreached people group – https://www.prayforzero.com/aboutus/ – something great to do with your kids or co-workers this summer.
And you can also find information on how to give here as well – https://seedcompany.com/
But whatever you do today and this week, stop. Thank God and others for the freedoms you enjoy, and remember to give others access to freedom as well.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery….For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1, 13-14
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram @baker.susannah.