Laying Down My Rights

Sacrifice is the foundation for authentic love.

It was Saturday morning and slightly overcast when the van with 7 students and 4 adults heard an alarming bang under us. Our driver carefully brought the 75 mile an hour trip to a halt on Highway 20 heading to Dallas Love Field Airport. The tire on the Mercedes van was shredded, and the wrenches on hand to change the tire were the wrong size.

We had a feeling this might be an eventful trip.

We made the flight in the nick of time and landed in our nation's capital, wondering how we would navigate to our hotel on the outskirts of Virginia. The Metro was going to be our best buddy to and from the sites and hotel, but upon arrival we learned someone had walked into the train tunnel ending their life and shutting transit down for the rest of the day. It was a sad beginning to the Christian Hertiage School (CHS) senior trip.

In pouring rain, we scuttled to the nearest bus. With silent prayers in our minds, we hunkered down and kept believing for better events for the rest of the week.

The next morning started with sunny skies and 70 degrees, and we were psyched to see the city and learn what we could about the nation we live in.

I'd been here before. My own senior trip was to D.C. in 1987, and I have a photo to sum up my posse's attitude.

richard fish and others from southside christian school at capital sitting on steps from 1987
(I'm seated center in case you can't figure out who is who. [cir. 1987])

richard fish and 4 other men on the steps of the jefferson memorial
(Attempted recreation with senior guys from Christian Heritage School and friend Chris on far right.)

Walking 113,000 steps with the seven seniors from CHS was a different experience than three decades ago. One, I don't remember much. Two, so much has happened in our nation and world in the last three decades. Three, my perspective has changed.

My feet ached after treading miles of sidewalk each day. Ripping off my shoes and socks and slipping on my slides in the evening was nearly euphoric, which probably motivated the last one mile walk at the end of each day from the Dunn Loring Metro station to Homewood Suites. I'm pretty sure I need to invest in better walking shoes. My Adidas Superstars may get shelved for a while.

close up of adidas superstars on richard and amy as they are walking in DC

The pain in my feet, however, is a small sensation compared to what I feel standing in solidarity with those who trekked blood-splattered fields and roads paving a pathway of freedom for me to walk.

Each day we strolled by cemeteries filled with people who gave themselves completely to something they would die for. The enormous monuments stand erected as symbols of overcoming something important I've not experienced firsthand. Etched in the granite, marble, and bronze are words from the dead prompting us to remember because what happened then could happen again.

My shoes scuffed the walkways around Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Kennedy. I gazed past the warriors of the World Wars, and my rubber soles squeaked on the marble under the Constitution, the Magna Carta, the scrolls of the Torah, the writings of Martin Luther, and the translations of John Wycliffe.

One word kept leaping off the stone and paper engravings of these iconic memorials —Tyranny.

Many of our dead leaders stood face to face with tyranny and prevailed. They saw something perhaps I'll see again in my lifetime, and a question shall arise within my own spirit. Will I die for freedom against tyranny? The liberty I walk in today was worth it for my ancient leaders. Will it be worth it for me?

Webster's 1898 defines tyranny "…as the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government. Hence tyranny is often synonymous with cruelty and oppression."

statue of thomas jefferson at the memorial in DC and focused on the word tyranny

Walking around D.C is a reminder to me that tyranny can show up in a variety of ways, all of which I should watch for. Carved out of the stone 50 feet above the ground, Jefferson's eyes seem to gaze on the quote he penned, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

I'm resting back in Texas, feet propped up and comfortably tucked into my Minnetonkas. My mind, however, is still contemplating what sacrifices I could be called upon to make for the common good of my fellow man.

This weekend will end, and walking into my normal routine I'll have the choice to love, serve, and look after the interest of others. I think you'll agree, even small gestures of kindness require sacrifice.

How can I expect to lay down my life for a "great cause" if I can't lay down my rights for the good of others now?

We all need God's help to truly love well.



Richard Fish

Written by Richard Fish

Richard blogs with the YWAM Tyler writing team and currently serves in Media Communications at the Twin Oaks campus in Garden Valley, Texas. His water bottle is anywhere but in his hands and walking and texting is in his wheelhouse skill set. You may find him directing a play at CHS or trying to get his life sized John Wayne cutout to stay standing in the office.

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