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The Happiest Day

What was the happiest day of your life?

I have been blessed with so many happy days that it would be hard to choose the happiest day. The day I married my beautiful bride, Debbie, could not be topped. The days our children were born were indescribable. Finishing my doctoral dissertation and passing my oral exams were great days.

For Olaudah Equiano, the happiest day of his life was the day he received his freedom from slavery:

I hastened to my master to get him to sign it, so that I might be fully released. Accordingly he signed the manumission that day; so that, before night, I who had been a slave in the morning, trembling at the will of another, was became [sic] my own master, and completely free. I thought this was the happiest day I had ever experienced.[1]

Equiano had been a slave since the time he was eleven and was freed approximately 10 years later in 1766. He suffered more than most of us could possibly comprehend, so it is not surprising that he experienced indescribable happiness when he was freed.

Americans, even with our best efforts, can only strain to imagine the happiness and relief felt by those who have lived and labored without freedom. What relief it must have been to the colonists to realize their freedom had been won from the British! And what of the immigrants who left communism and brutal dictators to become American citizens?

Perhaps every Independence Day, we should read the accounts of those who have escaped persecution in countries like the Soviet Union, North Korea, Communist China, or Syria. Maybe if Americans remembered the unspeakable sacrifice made by our military to stop Nazi Germany, and Imperialistic Japan, or stand against the spread of communism, or remove the “Butcher of Bagdhad” we would find time to pause and express our gratitude to God for our freedom.

Although filled with fallen, imperfect people, America has used her freedom to free others and provide relief for the oppressed and suffering. Throughout history, Americans have given their time, treasure, and blood to bring relief to others and it has been said that Americans are the most generous people in the world.

Our freedom as a democratic republic is founded upon Judeo-Christian values and the wisdom of the writers of our Constitution. Tragically, Americans have increasingly disregarded a healthy, reverential fear of God to the degree that even our belief in Him is at an all-time low.

In a misled effort to achieve freedom, a radical segment of our society fiercely fights to redefine our most basic values. As a result, the divisions among us only deepen. Rather than freedom, our penchant for redefining the most basic human concepts have us trapped in a maze of conflicting and ever-evolving interpretations.

The light of true freedom and the responsibilities that accompany it are being eclipsed by our wanton self-indulgence. If we are to escape the irresistible pull of the black hole of our sin, we must have a “true north” on our compass.

God has entrusted us with freedom, but in countless ways, we seem to show we cannot be trusted with it. When Olaudah Equiano purchased his freedom, he used the rest of his life to help others find freedom as well.

At one time, the happiest moment of his life was when the freedom stolen from him at eleven years old was returned. With the help of British abolitionists, including Hannah More, Josiah Wedgwood, and John Wesley, he wrote and published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.[2]

Could there be a happier day than being freed from slavery to man? Yes! When Equiano was freed from his sin, guilt, and fear of judgment, he experienced more than happiness, he found lasting joy! In this fascinating account of his life, he describes the joy he felt when the gospel set him free of his sin:

These glad tidings set me entirely at liberty, and I went out of the church rejoicing, seeing my spots were those of God’s children. I went to Westminster Chapel, and saw some of my old friends, who were glad when they perceived the wonderful change that the Lord had wrought in me…I rejoiced in spirit, making melody in my heart to the God of all my mercies. Now my whole wish was to be dissolved, and to be with Christ—but, alas! I must wait mine appointed time. [3]

Equiano had every reason to be bitter and vengeful. Yet he joined Christian leaders like William Wilberforce and used his freedom as a catalyst for the anti-slavery movement in England that would spread to the United States.

His inspiring story should do more than give us a warm feeling inside. It should convict us to appreciate our freedom and make choices that glorify God. If we genuinely love God, we will patiently show love to those around us who are mesmerized by the false freedom of their fantasies. And like Equiano, God will use us to help them find true freedom (Jn. 8:36).

Freedom is not an unlimited license, an unlimited choice, or an unlimited opportunity. Freedom is, first of all, a responsibility before the God from whom we come. -Alan Keyes[4]

As Americans, we are free. As Christ-followers, we have been set free of the prison chains and penalty of our sin and are now free to live for Him.

Think about it:

  • Have you experienced the joy of forgiveness and the freedom of a real and personal relationship with Christ?

  • If you have, will you show your love for Him and those around you by serving and sharing the gospel so they may be free?


You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

[1] Olaudah Equiano. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African: With linked Table of Contents (Kindle Location 1623). Wilder Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[2] Olaudah Equiano.

[3] (Kindle Locations 2407-2413).

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