Surely it is a sign of my age, but I have a big problem wrapping my mind around the fact that this is the Fourth of July weekend. It is--fireworks and all.
This weekend is personally significant for me for several reasons:
- My lovely wife is on her way back from an 8-day visit with some of her family, so this weekend is a much longed for reunion.
- My daughter-in-law and grandson are in Wales having an incredibly blessed time with a team from their church, First Baptist of West Monroe. (They represent the incredible missionary heritage of our land.)
- My friends, coworkers, and missionaries to Central-America are traveling back to the US for furlough. It may be the first Fourth of July fireworks their kids will see.
We recognize the birth of our nation, though, for reasons that ought to be important to us all.
There are some excellent reasons for us to rejoice in God's blessing on our nation. (For my friends who salute flags other than the "Stars & Stripes," I hope you can say the same about your country. I don't say these things to say my nation is "better than;" I simply rejoice in God's goodness.)
- Here in the USA we have the freedom to worship as we choose.
- God has blessed us with a bounty of natural beauty and resources.
- We have an impressive heritage. Our nation ". . . conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . under God . . . [with a] government of the people by the people and for the people." (Lincoln's Gettysburg Address) has not only been a blessing to those of us who live here but has served as a model for many other nations who have found our model of government to be a blessing as well. In spite of the postmodern tendency to be critical of all authority--ours especially, my observation indicates that our nation has been a good force in the world.
I was privileged to visit Italy and Germany, including some of the former East. Had not my dad and his brothers beaten Hitler and Mussolini, those would be different places. The same can be said of various other regions. Sure we have made our mistakes and we ought to point them out, but we ought to give ourselves permission to celebrate. To my friends who disagree, I mean no insult, but I will salute my flag. When I see the fireworks explode I will be thinking of explosions at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Flanders Field, Normandy, Korea, Yap, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and Manhattan/Washington DC. I may unashamedly shed a tear.
- We have opportunity to make a difference. In fact, I think, we have a responsibility to do so.
This weekend I'm praying for those who serve in our nation's military, and remembering those who did. But I'll also realize that unless we maintain the solid morality and ethics that can be seen in Lincoln's address as well as thousands of other historical documents, their dedicated service will be in vain. "It is for us the living . . . to be dedicated here to the unfinished work"--a work that is not primarily military or political but spiritual. (quote for Gettysburg Address)
Gettysburg address - http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm
Have a happy Fourth.
Steve Cornell draws together some good reminders on Freedom, http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/before-we-celebrate-freedom/