I have been thinking a lot about the realities of life for a slave in America, prior to the Civil War. Research on the slave spiritual, Wade in the Water, reveals a connection between the experiences of the ancient Israelites as they fled enslavement in the Exodus, and the experiences of American slaves, who fled captivity on the Underground Railroad. It took courage to leave the only life they knew, despite its brutality, and to flee into the unknown. And the leaving was not easy, as terror followed close behind—Pharaoh's army for the one, brutal slave-catchers for the other.
What made that possible? Why did some slaves in America brave the terrors of the trail while others remained behind in the familiar difficulties?
For me, the answer lies in the strength of the vision before them. For those who fled, there was a soul-stirring hope that life could be different, that it could hold a freedom and joy beyond imagining. . . And it was vision that gave them the courage to leave, it was hope that emboldened their hearts to face the journey, despite the terrors following close behind.
There are many ways to be enslaved today. And the answer is still the same: with the courage borne of hope, take your first steps towards freedom, regardless of obstacles before you or terror behind.
It is not easy. But it opens the door to a life beyond our wildest dreams.
Today I choose to be brave. How about you?