A Thoughtful Greeting to My Young Philippine Friends in Laguna:
You just finished your Independence Day. It is an important mark. Your day recognizes freedom from Spain, who is now one of your friends. Our independence recognizes freedom from England, who is now one of our friends. Other nations celebrate similar days because they recognize the sacrifice and struggle that made each nation free. If things go well, the very nations that struggled become friends later on. But, the cost to get there is usually high.
Why does the struggle for freedom continue in other places? Young people your own age in many places have no hope in sight that freedom will come. Can this mean that your flag and ours is not guaranteed permanence?
In back of the Philippine flag is the Christian flag. What does that have to do with freedom? A few days later an honor guard marched both flags and banners in the local city. I watched you. One of the first hanging banners carried by the marchers had a declaration about Jesus Christ. He rightly claims to be the true source of inner peace and a solution to the warring heart. Warring hearts make warring people. Warring people make warring communities and nations. Outside of Christ’s wonderful touch in a heart, we repeat the same history of domination, repression, struggle for freedom, new order, more domination, and it goes on.
What will keep the little one from ending up in a war torn and freedom-shattered generation? This is where independence days, including mine and yours, fall short. Struggles for independence that continue remind us that something more is needed to settle the heart. Is yours settled?
I was in your school watching these children compete. In back of them is a famous verse from Isaiah about the work of God inside a people to repair and rebuild. When God gets inside us in this way, we can be repairers of the breech. We can build from ruins. We can restore what was previously riddled with strife. Are you a candidate to do that? I love so many of you, and want you to be transformers of your friends, communities, and province. With Christ inside and by His Spirit’s direction, you can do just that. I want you to succeed.
Like the little flower at the end of this piece, freedom is ever so tenuous. It can fly away. This little tropical flower is delicate, and so is freedom. It can wither quickly from inattention to important things. Independence Day reminds us that freedoms are important to maintain and may cost us something to secure. Inner freedom from Christ is the key. That kind of peace, which transcends all others, builds the heart, repairs damage, sets a person free, and can set neighbors free. Be that person to let His peace do these things. That is how our nations will be secure.
Your grandfather in heart….