Thank You for Those Broken Chains

In honor of Memorial Day, I’m re-posting a blog from last year. Our visit to Normandy resulted in my gaining a much greater appreciation for the men and women who sacrificed their lives…but even more appreciation for God’s sacrifice for me. 

Oh, the inspiration and the irony. The past few days have been full of both. Normandy, France, was to me…a piece of history. That is…until yesterday when I experienced this place of beauty and blood-stained sand–where a decade before I was born something happened that continues to affect my life today.


I reflected on the lives of the young men and boys who landed on those pristine beaches over 70 years ago at the “beginning of the end” of World War II. I watched  videos of survivors describe that fateful day when many of their “band of brothers” fell. Preserved in a museum, their belongings tell their stories. I heard those stories, told and untold. My heart felt sad, full, grateful, and inspired as I walked among the 10,000 white crosses commemorating men whose bodies never made it home. I saw name after name of men who once lived and walked as I imagined the futures they never lived. In my mind’s eye I saw the tears their families cried. They fought for my liberation and I left inspired. 20150428_122259

As irony would have it, today I am in Berlin, Germany–once home to “the enemy.”  I greeted two of my friends and colleagues, one who is German and one who is French. My French friend shared that his father-in-law, who lives in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where the bloody D-Day battle was fought, was sixteen years old when the invasion came. Tears welled in his eyes as he spoke of stories his father-in-law had shared with him. I needed to hear those stories…to learn of the past that changed my present and future. 20150427_161849

My mind goes back to a sculpture in Sainte-Mere-Eglise that stirred my soul. It’s entitled, “The Day They Came.”  20150427_110537 (1)Once-chained hands reach upward..but the chains depicted were broken chains.

As a women’s minister I am often with fellow Christians. I spend time teaching and listening…and learning. I marvel at ways I see God at work. This past Sunday was a glorious and historic day in Paris, as four elders were appointed in the growing, loving, and lively church there. That same week four Parisians (college, high school, single, and adult) experienced “broken chains” as they were baptized into Christ. Tomorrow I will be with numerous Europeans while we learn from the Bible during the Spring gathering of the European Bible School. The fellowship will be sweet and the bonds tight. Cooperation and unity will continue to be forged–as they are essential for showing Jesus to the continent. French, German, British, Canadian, American, and more…all will be there–united in purpose and filled with deep and meaningful love for each other. This is all because many years ago someone came and paid the price required to break the chains of our own (my own) pride, selfishness, and everything else opposing God’s loving plan.

I’m reminded of the words of President Reagan at the 40th anniversary celebration of D-Day.”If we forget what we did, we forget who we are.”  In the spiritual realm (which is the part of us that can’t be buried under a tombstone) I’d change one word.  “If we ever forget what HE did, we forget who we are.”

And that’s the truth. The sculpture of the broken chains would read…”The Day He Came.”

That day changed everything…and he is still the only who can break the personal chains that embitter and enslave us…and the social chains of hate, prejudice,and entitlement that separate us. We are all level at the foot of the cross of Jesus.  If we ever forget what he did, we forget who we are.

We aren’t meant to be chained. We are loved, valued…and because of his amazing grace…worth his unthinkable sacrifice. Thank God for broken chains.

Tomorrow, as I stand arm-in-arm with dear friends, fellow workers, spiritual brothers and sisters–my allies.,.the ground will be level, as it is always is at the foot of the cross. I will stand grateful for what Jesus did. Because of that, I know who I am.

“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” as arranged by Chris Tomlin

     Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
     ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
     My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
     The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
     My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

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1 Comment

  1. loriwildenberg

    Powerful quote: ” “If we ever forget what HE did, we forget who we are.” So true… We must remember. Blessings!


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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