By George Bowers
We recently observed the 70th anniversary of the Allied attack on the beaches of Normandy commonly referred to as D-Day. It was a day of great heroism and bravery, of great suffering and loss. We are blessed at Antioch to have a D-Day veteran, Fred Hepner Sr., in our congregation. I had the privilege of visiting with him on Memorial Day and to hear accounts of some of his experiences and how God shielded and protected him through the battle in a providential way.
What happened on those bloody beaches that day, however, turned the tide of World War II. When those 10,000 brave soldiers gave their own lives before noon on June 6, 1944, it marked the beginning of the end for Adolph Hitler's terror and totalitarianism.
But we must not mistakenly believe that it happened without great sacrifice or cost.
Many parents sorely grieved the loss of their children whom they loved every bit as much as we love ours today. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, may we never forget the price that many paid in blood for our precious freedoms not only during WWII, but throughout our nation's history.
Nearly 2,000 years before Normandy, however, there was another D-Day. Instead of a sandy beach, it happened on a rocky hillside in Israel where Roman soldiers crucified the son of God. The freedom that he purchased for us that day was not political, but spiritual and not temporal, but eternal.
Good Friday became deliverance day for all who trust in Jesus. It marks the day we were delivered from the totalitarianism and terror of sin and hell, and this deliverance likewise came at the price of great sacrifice and suffering.
Jesus' death for our sins marked the turning point in the battle that had been waged since Adam's fall. And even though we still face skirmishes with the enemy from time to time, the final victory is even more certain than the settled outcome of the second world war.
Jesus not only paid the price for our spiritual freedom from sin in his crucifixion, but he also won victory over death when he came boldly out of his once-sealed tomb. Because of his triumph, even those soldiers who died on D-Day can live again if they were trusting in Jesus.
Unlike the benefits of the Normandy invasion, we have the choice to accept Jesus' death on our own behalf or not. His eternal victory is free to all who are willing to receive his forgiveness and lordship, but for those who neglect or refuse him, final defeat and misery are certain.
I can't imagine anyone choosing to live under the brutality, fear, and oppression of the Third Reich when given the opportunity to enjoy liberty. Likewise, I can't imagine anyone choosing to continue to live in sin and shame when Jesus offers joy and peace.
If you've never done so, confess your own sin to God and call on Jesus to save you through his shed blood that you might enjoy the blessings of everlasting life and liberty. This can be your personal Independence Day. It's a privilege to enjoy American independence, but how infinitely better to couple that with the eternal liberty of Jesus. If the son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed! (John 8:36)
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, "Wit and Wisdom of the Woods." He can be reached at email@example.com.