I have some kites to show you this morning, which I'm sure you boys and girls would like to own. (Display kites. Tie to chairs or desk.) What a pretty sight these would make, flying high in the air from some vacant lot!
It is about a kite that wanted to be free that I am going to tell you. Sometimes kites, like boys and girls, seem to feel a craving for freedom, you know.
On a spring day several years ago I found myself walking down a street in a city where I was pastor of a church. As I strolled along, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, I passed a corner where a group of boys were playing. I recognized them as being members of my Sunday school. They were flying kites something like these. (Designate.) High against the blue of the sky the kites stood out, floating on the breezes that kept them aloft, guided by strong cords held in .eager little hands. One of the boys spied me as I stood watching them, and called out, "Oh, do come over here and feel how these kites pull!"
I went over where the boys were, and took the cord out of the hand of the boy who had called me. I could feel the strong pull of the kite, as I held the cord; it leaped and tugged like a live thing, and do you know, boys and girls, while I was holding that string, the kite seemed to be talking to me? What do you suppose it was saying? Why, it seemed to be begging for liberty, and saying, "Oh, why don't you let go of the string? You think I am high up in the sky, but if you would only let me loose and give me freedom, I'd show you how high I could go!"
So the kite talked to me. And as it pulled and tugged and talked to me of freedom and liberty, something happened. The cord broke! The boys gasped as they saw the broken cord fluttering in the breeze —then we all fastened our eyes on the kite. It wavered uncertainly for a moment, swept from side to side, then suddenly turned topsy-turvy, its tail streaming out behind it, and came floating down, down, down—helpless to right itself. At last-it was swept by the strong wind up against a telegraph wire, and there the poor kite hung by its tail; all discolored and bedraggled and torn to shreds; the frame broken and disfigured.
I have thought of that kite many times since, as I have come in contact with boys and girls who have talked of "freedom." How many boys there are who feel that, if they could only get away from their mother's "apron strings," out into the big, wide world, they could be something! They are like the kites, tugging at the cords which hold them. I was like that when I was a boy. When they caught me smoking my first cigarette, I thought resentfully, "Oh, if only I could get away where I could be FREE!" I wanted to break the cord which bound me to Sunday school, to church, to mother and home.
But, boys and girls, there is a greater freedom which we all can have. It is the freedom which comes from doing right, from obeying the kindly laws which keep us safe,—the freedom which comes from becoming acquainted with the best Friend a boy or girl can have, the Lord Jesus Christ! If you let Him into your life, and Let Him hold the cords, you will have real freedom, and can rise to undreamed of heights. "...If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."—John 8:32-36.
Once I went to visit a big penitentiary. There, I met a young man who had been sentenced to serve twenty years imprisonment for a crime. I talked to that young man, and he told me his story. He had been brought up in a Christian home, but like the kite, craved for freedom. He resented the demands that were made of him—he didn't want to go to Sunday school and church;—he didn't want to know the Lord Jesus. He felt that all those things were just strings that would keep him tied down, and keep him from realizing his real freedom.
So he broke away, just as the kite, I told you about. He tugged and pulled, and finally the ties which held him broke, and he was left to seek his freedom. But, boys and girls, he was just as helpless as the kite. You see, the kite could go higher only as long as it was held by the cord in the strong hand of the one who had sent it aloft. The moment the string broke, the same wind that kept it aloft, swept it to the ground.
So the young man found himself drifting when the cord was loosed. Instead of rising, he sank. He wavered, and began to go down, down, down, just as the kite did, and soon, he too, found himself entangled in unfriendly wires. His whiteness was soiled, his strength was broken, and at the last he found himself facing a long term of imprisonment—all because, when he was a boy, he wanted to be free from the kindly, protecting, restraining influences of home and mother, and church, and God.
There is a verse in the Bible which says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." Boys and girls, that young man in prison had forgotten the Lord's command to remember his Creator; he had also forgotten God's command, "Honor thy father and thy mother."
What happened to the kite that wanted its freedom will happen to every kite which breaks loose from the cord that holds it steady. What happened to the boy who broke the ties which bound him, will happen to every boy and girl who breaks away from the ties which keep them steady. The kite lost its freedom, for it was hopelessly entangled in the wires. The young man lost HIS freedom, for he was doomed to spend the best years of his life behind prison bars.
Boys and girls, it is only the freedom which comes through obedience which is worthwhile! Remember the fate of the kite that wanted to be free, and of the boy who wanted to cast off all restraints—and "remember NOW thy Creator in the days of thy youth!"