04 Jul Happy Independence Day!
Amidst all the flags and parades, watermelon and hot dogs, sparklers and fire crackers, and time with family and friends that we will enjoy today, I hope you will also take time to think about your many blessings and to say a word of thanks.
After all, there are millions of people in our world who do not have the freedom to speak their minds, worship without fear, or make a meaningful vote for the candidate of their choice. There are millions more who have nothing to eat, who have no shelter, and who will contract disease because of a lack of clean water to drink. In our country, the police, first-responders, and military personnel are by and large, hard-working men and women who care about their jobs and the people they serve and protect. In other places, people in uniform are more often feared and avoided, symbols of corruption and power gone badly astray.
Our response to the blessedness we enjoy is meant to be gratitude and joy which then motivates us to be generous. We become conduits for joy and blessing to be passed to others as we share what we have—our talents, our time, our encouragement, our food, and everything else we appreciate about our lives. Yesterday I shared my time with a friend who needed to be accompanied to a medical appointment. The forty hours she went without food in preparation for her procedure reminded her of the impact of hunger—not only the void in the pit of her stomach but also how weak and dizzy she felt after a relatively brief period of undernourishment. Yet, her hunger would be assuaged as soon as her test was over, and I handed her a graham cracker. For others, there is no end in sight to their hunger.
Part of what it means to celebrate our independence as a nation is to celebrate that we share common bonds—as Americans, as family, as human beings. We have delightful traditions for the Fourth of July, and I plan to embrace them fully as I drive to Maryland for the day to attend a cook-out, watch the kids swim, see a little baseball, and end the day with fireworks. But I will also pay attention for opportunities to make a difference—to listen or console, to express a word of appreciation, to give of myself in some way. This, for me, is also part of what it means to celebrate the intent of our Founding Fathers—that we would create a nation, a people, who willingly make personal sacrifices for the common good. We have certainly strayed from that notion in myriad ways, but wouldn’t it make for a spectacular 4th if we all sought to embody that spirit as we enjoy our barbeque?
Yours for the Kingdom,