David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. (2 Samuel 5:4-5)
I have been in the United States for 43 years, coming as a teenager refugee who escaped from communism to seek freedom and a new place where I could call home. I now have lived three-quarters of my life as a US citizen. Looking back on my life journey, my childhood was spent during war torn times in the Vietnam conflict in the mountains of Laos and a brief time in a refugee camp in Thailand. During this period it seemed as though there was no hope and no place to run. The journey to escape communism was like God’s call to Abraham… to a place I had never known or heard about, to a foreign land, and eventually to the United States. I never knew that the journey would take me or my family to the United States, a country that is filled with “milk and honey” including freedom.
I feel blessed to have been able to come to the United States, but the journey was not easy. Many Hmong who tried to escape were hunted down or they drowned in crossing the Mekong River. More than 30,000 Hmong died during the war time, one-third of which were Hmong civilians who tried to leave the country after the war. The second, the longer and last period of my life has been living here in the United States, my country and my home. This part of my life was not planned, it was given by God and God’s loving people, especially the church. I knew many families who came and were sponsored by churches, including my wife, Tabatha’s family, which was sponsored by seven churches.
As we look forward to the celebration of July 4th this weekend, let us remember our freedom, and the people who give their life, service, and time to preserve it. Freedom often comes with a cost. David didn’t just become King of Judah and then later in all Israel for forty years. He fought with Goliath and won, and then Saul and his army and successors. It was during his kingship that Israel enjoyed their freedom to the fullness. Perhaps, this happened because of his faithfulness and service to God, even though he was not perfect. I believe, our faithfulness and service to God has a lot to do with our freedom. As July 4th comes, let’s give praise and thanks to God and all who are serving our country.
Almighty God, we give you thanks for the life we have and the freedom we often take for granted. We pray for your care to bring peace and freedom to all people and countries, for health and food, shelter, and clothing, that all may truly experience freedom. May this July 4th remind us that you have also freed us from our sins and all that prevents us from true freedom. In the name of your Son Jesus Christ, Amen.