You know those mirrors on the passenger side of cars, the ones that say, "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"?
Well, they oughta put up signs sorta like that in Washington, D.C., except they'd say something like, "Buildings are much farther away than they appear."
I found that out the hard way last summer when I went to our nation's capital for the big DC/LA Youth Evangelism Superconference. And I think I've still got the blisters to prove it.
I'd been hanging out with 20,000 students all week at the Washington Convention Center, listening to great bands and learning a lot about "Living the Life," the conference theme.
But one morning, I just wanted to get away from my friends for a while and think about the stuff I'd been hearing. I had a couple hours to kill, so I thought I'd check out some of the D.C. sights.
I didn't set out with any particular plans. But I ended up seeing things that really made me think about my faith—and about freedom.
Here's what I learned on my D.C. walk:
Since the White House was just a block away from our hotel, I started there. I walked around the place, looking through the iron fence, thinking about the guy who lives there—the leader of the free world and maybe the most powerful man on the planet.
And that made me think about the song Audio Adrenaline sang in front of the Capitol Building the night before: "Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus." Some of the words go like this: "I could be anything, but one thing's true. Never gonna be as big as Jesus, never gonna hold the world in my hands … "
"[Christ is] far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet … " (Ephesians 1:21-22).
I wanted to tour the inside of the White House, but the lines were too long. So I looked across The Mall—you know, where the Washington Monument is—and I saw the Jefferson Memorial.
And this is where I wish I'd seen one of those signs saying, "Buildings are much farther away than they appear." Buildings in D.C. are humongous, so they look a lot closer than they are.
So, what looked like a five-minute walk across a lawn turned into a half-hour trek—to the other side of the Potomac River.
But it was worth it. There, in the middle of an open-air domed memorial made of white marble, stood a 19-foot-tall statue of Thomas Jefferson, the man who most stands for freedom in America.
We all know TJ wrote The Declaration of Independence, saying "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." One of those "inalienable rights" is freedom of religion, and more than anyone else, we can thank Jefferson for the fact that, in America, we're free to worship God and to tell others about him—much more so than in many parts of the world.
Which made me think I should take better advantage of that freedom, and that I should be bolder in sharing my faith.