As we rode across the countryside of East Germany on our way to Berlin, I looked out the window of the bus and could almost palpably feel the heavy oppression of the lives of the unfortunate people that lived under this tyrannical rule.  I could easily understand why they would risk it all to reach freedom.  One story of such an escape is portrayed in the 1982 Disney film Night Crossing, which is based on the true story of the Strelzyk and Wetzel families who escaped from East Germany September 1979.  They constructed a hot air balloon for their successful night crossing of the border into freedom.  There were many other attempts to cross the border using various methods over the years of that era.  It is so easy to understand why so many would make the risky attempt for the sake of freedom.  They lived in such a constricting environment that it is no wonder that they would at least want to escape.  Living in that environment must have felt like living in a small, constricted room in the dark, for days on end, with the air thin, tenebrous, and constricting, barely sufficient for life.  In a word, it was hopeless. 

There are a few movies that captured fairly well the harsh and bleak reality of the lives of people living in that era.    There is one award-winning movie that captures it best, in my opinion, the 2006 German-produced movie The Lives of Others, which I watched with English subtitles since my German has degraded from being away from that country for eight years now.  In this movie, the main protagonist is a Stasi (East German secret police) officer, Gerd Wiesler, who is assigned the duty of surveillance of a well-known playwright, Georg Dreyman.  Ostensibly, the reason for the stake-out is that Dreyman’s loyalty to the Communist regime is questionable, so he is possibly involved in unapproved and dissident activity.  However, Wiesler finds out in time that the main reason for his assignment is that a high-ranking Communist official has romantic interest in Dreyman’s girlfriend.  A big part of the plot revolves around Wiesler’s enlightenment as he discovers the corruption and abuse of Communist leaders that hypocritically repudiate all the propaganda of helping the working class.  Wiesler comes to understand that the tyrannical Communist government is extinguishing all joy and meaning of life for the ordinary citizens in its arrogant pursuit of total control.  And he comes to understand what we all have come to understand in human history, that our political leaders way too often do not have altruistic motives in their duties. 

There is something in the human heart that craves freedom.  It is like freedom was built into us such that we automatically understand that we were meant to experience it.  I believe that God made us to live in freedom, both physically and spiritually.  Surely He does not desire that we live in cruel, authoritarian regimes such as North Korea.  These places always suck the life out of the human heart and leave people feeling dissatisfied.  But there is also a need to live in spiritual freedom.  The only way we can experience that type of freedom is in a relationship with our Creator.  If we enter into covenant with Him through His son Jesus, then He can set us on the path of freedom.  At the point of salvation, He gives us the hope and promise of freedom.  But we can only get a small glimpse of that freedom if we walk in fellowship with Him, making prayer a regular priority.  As we spend that time with Him daily, over the space of years, we will find that the freedom becomes more and more of a reality in our lives as we submit parts of our lives to Him and He builds more and more of His spirit within us.  Over time, the many fears and sins of our life that keep us captive are cast out of us as He grows more and greater within us.  This is what we were meant for, and it is the only way we can find the freedom that we so desperately crave. 

 


Comments

11/20/2015 10:58pm

Freedom is like a song that cannot be ignored. It slowly finds into any human being's consciousness and serves as a guiding light in the darkest moments of men across history. Both men and women had served and continue to serve as role models in seeking freedom in the most atrocious regimes. These include Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa L. Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, among others.

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07/04/2017 1:45am

Freedom is an essential thing for everyone. All of us would do anything just to have it. Well a life without freedom isn't a life at all. If we don't have it, living isn't complete and we cannot do all the things we wanted to do, right? That's why I feel so thankful that I am capable of living a life with enough freedom. I can do all things I wanted to do where I could learn a lot of things.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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