Freedom

She stands over 151 feet tall on her pedestal on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Designed by Frederic Auguste Barholdi, the statue of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the
Roman goddess of freedom, holds aloft a torch and clutches a tablet inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A gift from the people of France, the statue is an iconic figure recognized around the world.

Dedicated on October 1886, the original concept was born in the mind of a French abolitionist, Édouard René Lefebvre de Laboulaye, who wished to acknowledge the defeat of slavery in the United States. It was intended to convey the congratulations of the French nation. Initially, Lady Liberty was supposed to hold a broken chain. The design was changed so that a set of broken shackles would lie at her feet. The tablet she held with July 4, 1776 took the place of the chains. Twenty years after the end of the Civil War the nation was still healing, so the sculpture was altered because there was concern that the held chains would be too provocative.

Too provocative? With the vantage point of history, we can wonder about such things. It would be great if we humans had moved past bigotry, racism, prejudice, and other ills that plague our world. Human trafficking is a world-wide disgrace. Racial tensions, religious intolerance, the ever widening gap between the have’s and the havenot’s, barbaric violence, and injustice are just a few of the insufferable factors in a darkening world. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

What did you pray for this morning as you greeted a new day? We all have personal concerns and issues that concern us. I know that God cares about each of us, but I also know that God cares for all of us. His heart must break as He views the world He created descend into chaos.

Today I am trying to take a longer view. I don’t want to take for granted the grace extended me. I know that true freedom comes through Jesus Christ. This world is still bound in shackles. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Our statue of liberty is an old rugged cross.

I cannot fix all that is wrong in my own life, much less all that is wrong in the world. But I can pray. I can beseech God to work out His will in His world. I know the end of the story. Christ will return and I hope it is soon. Until then, I can pray. I can ask God to use you and me as we seek to be faithful. Until then, I can listen and obey the prompting of His Holy Spirit. I can pray.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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