Last Fourth

Remember last Fourth of July? No protests, no riots, no COVID-19, and who ever heard of “social distancing?” We all went out with family and friends, watched the fireworks displays, maybe shot off some fireworks of our own. Some of us taught our kids how to safely hold sparklers, set off firecrackers, and shoot “pop bottle” rockets. Roman candles were always a treat, shooting colorful balls of fire up toward the sky.

Cities spent a lot of money for fabulous fireworks displays from New York to Sidney, and people gathered to watch the bright flashes and listen to the thunderous reports of large rockets as well as the stirring sounds of patriotic music.

How could we not be reminded of the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” as witnessed by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British in 1814. Finally through the smoke of the early dawn light, he saw the American Flag still waving over the fort.

As were many of the early icons of American history, Key was a slave owner! But he went on record as saying that the system of slavery was full of sin and “a bed of torture.”

Yet from other men of his time and before, some of the greatest accomplishments of statehood were brought about, and a country was born, in spite of great growing pains, that has more freedom, more liberty, more opportunity than any other country in the world.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be played at official events. On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover along with Congress had the song declared the U.S. national anthem.

From imperfect people come great contributions to society.  Imperfect people who realize there is much more than just living life, and strive to make the lives of others better.  People who believe we must indeed “..hold these truths to be self-evident…” that God created mankind in HIS image, and HE is the author of liberty and freedom.

Our country celebrates 244 years this 4th of July, 2020. Few nations in history have lasted longer than 250 years (approximately), and most are destroyed from within, with large-scale civil unrest being an important indicator.

What if this is our last time to celebrate American independence?  It’s an unsettling thought, but not so far-fetched—look around at what is happening.

When you celebrate this Fourth, take some time to pray for our country, our leaders, our government at all levels. Pray for an upsurge of patriotism, but more, pray for a spiritual revival across our land. Pray that our churches become well-springs of the Gospel, bold in witnessing to those outside their walls. Pray that each of us gains a love and desire to share Jesus with those around us. Pray for the courage to stand against the evil of tyranny.

34Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”