Debra Whittington: Religion columnist
Although the date on the calendar is past the Fourth of July, the spirit of the holiday needs to be with us each and every day of the year. We live in the greatest country on Earth and yet take it for granted.
I pray that all had a wonderful holiday with its parades, fireworks, picnics, and other gatherings.
Before we put it aside for another year, I would like to take another look at what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.
I am so thankful to be a citizen of the United States. I never realized how thankful until July 4, 2004. Mark and I were in Victoria, British Columbia.
While we had a wonderful vacation, something didn’t seem quite right. I had such a strange feeling being outside the United States on the Fourth of July, almost a sense of being lost or a fish out of water. I thought about the festivities taking place to the south of us and longed to be back in the United States. Even though I want to travel more in the future, I don’t think I ever want to be out of the United States again on the Fourth of July.
This year was much different. We weren’t on an exciting trip like last year, but we were home in our own country that I love so much. On the Sunday before the Fourth of July, our church started with the Pledge of Allegiance. The words always stir me as we pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God.” It reminded me of growing up when we started our school day with the pledge. One nation united together under God. Although there are those who try to take God out of our country, we need to remember those founding fathers that placed their trust in God.
During the Continental Congress of 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. Representatives pledged their lives and their fortunes to the fight for independence. Some of the signers lost their lives while others lived in poverty following the war.
A bell proclaimed the Declaration of Independence to the residents of not only Philadelphia, but also all the 13 colonists. Later to be known as the Liberty Bell, this bell had special meaning to the residents. Engraved in the bell was Leviticus 25:10: “… proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington was appointed as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. His first general order issued on July 9, 1776, called on “every officer and man … to live and act as a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties” of this country.
Patrick Henry is known for his famous quote, “give me liberty or give me death.” Here is a lesser known quote of his: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
These are only a few examples of the actions of our founding fathers. It is a shame that over the years, references to the Christian beliefs of the founding fathers has been swept under the rug. Many Americans either are unaware of these events or choose to ignore them.
God truly blessed our nation and without his divine intervention there wouldn’t be a United States of America today. Our founding fathers earnestly sought God’s will for our new country.
Times have changed and so many have turned their back on God and refuse to seek him for guidance. Our country is plagued with so many problems that are threatening to tear us apart and yet there remain those faithful who are seeking through fervent prayer that our country be healed.
II Chronicles 7:14 states “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Healing of our land begins with each of us praying for our country and its leaders.
Yes, the United States of America has its problems, but it is still the greatest country on Earth. I love how the song by Irving Berlin sums it all up:
“God Bless America.
“Land that I love
“Stand beside her, and guide her
“Through the night with a light from above.
“From the mountains, to the prairies,
“To the oceans, white with foam
“God bless America
“My home sweet home.”