The Fourth of July has been my favorite holiday for a long time. There are several reasons why I love it: watermelon, snow cones, flip-flops, and fireworks; dressing in red, white, and blue makes me very, very happy and, the most important reason, I love my country!
In the 33 years that I’ve been alive, I have seen our country rally together when tragedy struck and we cared for one another. We take great pride and joy in our nation. We have this collective, gritty, “don’t mess with us” attitude. We have accomplished incredible things together and have much more to look forward to in our future. Here are just a few victories our nation has seen in the last 244 years:
July 4th, 1776 – Declaration of Independence was signed. Happy Birthday, America!
January 1st, 1863 – Abraham Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves.
March 7, 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
December 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers took the first successful flight.
October 1, 1908 – Henry Ford invented the Model T.
August 26, 1920 – Women were given the right to vote.
May 17, 1954 – The Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional.
July 20, 1969 – America won the space race and landed on the moon.
Those are just a handful of triumphs that we have seen as a nation. And while I’m celebrating America today, I also acknowledge that she is not perfect. We have experienced very trying times. Some that were due to costly mistakes that we made, and others that were beyond our control:
We mistreated Native Americans and forced them out of their homes.
Black people suffered slavery, which led to The Civil War, Jim Crow, and continued discrimination.
Wars, the Great Depression, financial market crashes, terrorist attacks, and more.
In every single struggle, we have banded together and come out on the other side stronger. And our right to examine these difficult moments, challenge the status quo, and demand better, are freedoms that were paid for by American lives. We have to ask hard questions and honor the foundation that was laid by those who came before us. One is not the antithesis of the other. If we let them work together, they will help us see where we’ve been, and know how to move ahead.
We are facing really big obstacles right now and I am watching us falter. We are in the middle of a global health crisis, another civil rights movement, and an intense election year. We need hope, truth, and voices full of the Holy Spirit to stand up and speak. With this in mind, I have written a letter to America. My hope for you in reading this, is that you recognize the part you have to play in this pivotal season of our nation. If we all take individual responsibility, we will enjoy the fruits of a corporate victory. E pluribus unum: “Out of the many, one.”
I love you and believe in you. I have seen you shine and be an example to the world. You personify hope and the promise of a bright future. The American dream has set the stage for us to produce some of the world’s brightest inventors, scientists, athletes, farmers, teachers, and pastors. We had the guts to dream and believe we could do incredible things.
We have seen God’s faithfulness and favor in our nation. Revivals and the Great Awakenings have marked our character. But we must stay humble before God and remember that He is our Provider and Protector. If we want to stay under His blessing, we have to invite Him into our homes, churches, and into our nation once again.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance,” (Psalm 33:12 NASB).
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
I beg each of you to understand your personal worth and value. God made us with unique purposes so all of us are needed. For our nation to be healthy, we each have to be healthy. If we invest in our personal healing, the whole will be healed.
I pray that we never forget that our freedom was paid for by selfless, brave lives. Just like Jesus paid for our spiritual freedom, many men and women have paid for our country’s freedom. We have the right to say and believe what we want because our founding fathers paid a high price for the idea of freedom.
“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.” – John Adams (emphasis added)
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – Thomas Jefferson
Those who have gone before us and those who are coming after us, are watching to see how we will steward the freedom we currently posses. Let us choose to honor our past and protect our future fearlessly. I am praying that our children grow up in a country that they are proud of, with leadership that they are proud of. Their inheritance is the product of the decisions we make now. Let’s choose wisely.
I love you, America. Happy 244th Birthday.