The 4th of July – it is one of our favorite holidays.
It is a favorite because it represents freedom, independence and liberty.
We are free to be our own person, free to move around and make our own choices.
We have autonomy and self-determination.
Our liberty was bought with the blood, sweat and tears of others who stood up for what was right and fought to help our country become free and remain free.
That liberty assures us that we are free from tyranny, unreasonable control and restrictions of a despotic, arbitrary or over-reaching government.
What are we doing with that freedom?
When we apply that independence to our everyday life, we are challenged to use it with wisdom and self-discipline. We can use our freedom to destroy or to build up.
We are free to build lives of caring and compassion or lives filled with bitterness and nursed grievances. We can choose to reach out and help our neighbor, or build higher walls of intolerance to screen out the need of others.
We cannot legislate love and tolerance instead of hate and prejudice. It is a matter of the heart – not law.
We choose to let love rule instead of hate. We choose to use the skills and talents God has given us to build something meaningful or remain mired in helplessness.
We choose to pick up the tools of diligence, commitment and determination rather than blaming God and others for our misfortunes. The one empowers – the other self-destructs. The first will ignite our creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness. The other will erode our sense of worth and esteem.
What does the 4th of July mean to you?
I hope it means more than flags waving, parades, and bands playing. We get caught up in the celebration and it is easy to gloss over the sacrifices that was made so we could be free.
I pray that God will strengthen me to use this freedom and liberty I was given to serve Him and others.
I pray that God will give me the wisdom to make the right choices even when they are tough ones.
I pray that God will teach me how to love and be compassionate and to use the blessings He so generously gave me to reach out and help those in need.
I pray that God will grant mercy and grace to a nation that so often forgets that He was the reason why we were able to become a great nation in the first place.