As we celebrate Veterans Day today, it’s rather easy to look around life and pick out the men and women who I know that have served me and my country through military service. I’m sure I’d miss some of them, but I can certainly name a few, and I thank them.

But what about freedom of the heart? Who has paid THAT price? Certainly, Jesus did. The sacrifice he made for me on the cross completely paid the price for my Salvation, Freedom, and Life. But is that it? Is freedom of the heart like freedom of speech, where once it’s paid for I can just walk out the door and exercise it to my heart’s content? I don’t think so.

I’m thinking today of three other places where the price for freedom must be paid. First is all the men and women who have fought for my freedom without even knowing my name. Missionaries, authors, speakers, and those random people you see on the street who make you think, “what do they have that I don’t?” Those people have paid a price to become the people God made them to be. They’ve let themselves go so that they can be used for good in others life, without having a clue as to the impact their lives will made. Anonymity. That costs something.

The second is those people who do know me and are fighting for my freedom. They may know me well, or they may know me just in a moment of life, but they know I am in need of Life, and they have some Life to offer. People like the man I went to this weekend and asked  for prayer, even before he knew my name. In fact, now that I think back to it, I don’t even know if I told him my name. I went up to him, as the guide for a small group through a 3 day men’s retreat, and shared my heart about a concern I had for a man in my group. He was having a hard time “letting go,” and it was obvious, at least to me. So I brought in a man who’d taken up the cross of praying for others throughout this retreat, and asked him to pray with me over it. He brought in another man, and there we stood, huddled around a tile on the floor, praying for breakthrough in a situation I had no idea how breakthrough would come. Later on that weekend that prayer would come back to remind and reassure me that I was on the right track, even though the guy in my group blew up, stomped off, and we honestly didn’t know if he’d be coming back. I knew we had taken his hurt before the throne, and released that sense of control that comes from being “in charge.” I found out later my prayer warrior had been watching over my group, continuing to pray for us, and was right there to guide, counsel, and build me up as I shared what was going on with him later. It’s great, and humbling, to have those who know something about you step into your life and say, “take some of my strength.” They are being Jesus to me.

The last person who must pay the price of my heart’s freedom is sadly the hardest. It’s me. I love letting to, but I hate it at the same time. It would be so much easier to rest in the assurance of the false truths that come into my life every day such as “you’re a failure,” “you won’t make it,” and “there you go, you let THAT person down again… you’re such a disappointment!” Those lies from the pit of hell ring as true as a bell in my life sometimes, and yet they are as far removed from the truth as light is from darkness itself. So often I combat those lies with cardboard and rubber weapons, such as grabbing the nearest snack, zoning out for an hour of TV, passing the buck (and the pain) to someone else, or coming up with a lame response such as “no I’m not.”

This battle is much more serious than can be waged simply with defensive weapons. Yes, that is what makes up most of what we call the armor of God. And that’s probably good, because we’re slammed with it every day and night. But we have also been given a sword to take back ground. To reclaim what was lost. To achieve victory over sin, death, and the Enemy. That victory only comes as we fight and put to death those things that would rather kill us. These are the things that are waging war against my freedom. I must fight back false accusations with true affirmations. I must fight harsh criticism with gentle truth. I must fight subliminal messages of disappointment with the true words my Father tells me. I am not a disappointment. My Father made me in his very image. I am the apple of His eye. He has made me a full fledged son, despite any shortcoming my flesh may have. That is who I am.

But that’s not who I was. And that’s where the price for freedom becomes the most costly. I must die to my old self. I must let it go completely, and claim no right over myself or my life at all, because I have been bought, and am now “in Him,” as the Bible says.

No, freedom isn’t free. It never is. That’s as true in my soul as it is on a sandy battlefield halfway across the world. But freedom is worth the price. Always.