July 4. The birthday of America. I love early American history. I have for as long as I can remember, and every time I read more about it I find myself more and more fascinated by the people and events that crafted this nation. The collective brilliance and foresight of the Founding Fathers was incredible.
America is an amazing nation, beginning with its formation as an independent country, and continuing throughout its history. The freedoms that we have should never be forgotten, ignored or taken for granted. Nor should we allow those freedoms to be infringed upon or taken away, by any of the three branches of the federal government or any of the state or local governments.
Writing to his wife Abigail, John Adams predicted how July 4 would be celebrated–or should be celebrated–way back in 1776:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
(All spellings original; found at http://www1.american.edu/heintze/Adams.htm.)
Adams was off by two days, as we now know. July 2 was the day that the resolution for independence was approved in Congress, but it was July 4 that appears on the Declaration of Independence, and it is that day that has been celebrated ever since. As insignificant as it is in the grand scheme of things it is incredible that even Adams’ predictions for how the day would be celebrated have held true. Or almost held true anyway; more often than not we–myself included–fail to commemorate the day with “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
We should, though. We should remember that while it was amazing courage on the parts of thousands of British colonists, willing to sacrifice everything up to and including their lives, that brought independence from England, it was ultimately God who oversaw the events of American independence, just as He oversees, and allows, all events throughout history. And however we may feel about current events in America, we should never forget to give thanks to God for His blessings, provision and grace on America.
That is why we must also remember that–again, however we may feel at any given time about current events–it is not a great country or any political policy or action that will save us. We have abundant blessings and opportunity as a result of the country in which we live, but without God that is not enough. I am reminded of something Sean Hannity wrote, and since I do not have it in front of me this may not be verbatim, but this is pretty close: “What will it benefit our kids to grow up in the greatest, freest, coolest country on earth, only to be spiritually lost and adrift in this world without an anchor for their souls?”
So, Happy Birthday, America. I appreciate my country, and I think that it is “the greatest, freest, coolest country on earth.” I thank God that I am an American. I also, however, thank God that I have an anchor for my soul, and that regardless of whether or not America continues to stray from many of the principles on which it was founded and to continually chip away at the rights and religious freedoms that made this country great, God is in control.