Yesterday as I sat on the lake surrounded by family, friends, coworkers, and strangers I was reminded that we are often so quick to take this incredible holiday for granted. Maybe this is the small town girl side of me but, The Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. If you think I’m odd for saying that, look further into the beauty of this day. It’s not a day that people idolize and plan months for. It’s not a day that we shower people with expensive gifts or plan extravagant events for. And it’s not a day that the whole world celebrates. Today is a day to simply spend time with those who matter most to you around the campfire or at a barbeque (not to mention the fourth of July has the best holiday food by far). It’s a day of excitement where we explode things in the sky and watch in amazement. It’s a day to catch up with family members in the sunshine on the past 6 months of your life since you last saw them at Christmas. But most importantly today is a day to be thankful to be an American.
Our country has endured a lot of trials and overcome many obstacles to get to the place we are today. We are free, we can vote, even our poorest people have more than most people in other parts of the world, and we have access to everything we could ever dream of at the tip of our fingers. It is definitely true that our nation is far from perfect and we still have problems, but this is earth and there is not a kingdom under heaven that will ever be perfect. I think sometimes we get so caught up in all we perceive America to be doing wrong that we forget to be thankful for all the things that are going right. When I started considering all the things in this country I should be grateful for I eventually concluded that there are four particular reasons why I am able to say I am genuinely proud to be an American:
- We can serve, worship, and talk about Jesus without fear of death
I know that sounds intense but it holds so much truth. Throughout the bible, there are countless examples of the persecuted church and Jesus’ followers facing death for their faith. Far too often we forget that so many other countries still face persecution and constant fear for simply speaking Jesus name. These people live radically for Jesus, going into each day knowing that they could potentially die for what they believe in and still persistently pursue Jesus. Personally, I want to learn to have faith like that. In America we have the opportunity and freedom to openly worship God, attend church, and share his truth with everyone we know. Freedom of Religion in America makes worshiping Jesus much more peaceful and welcoming for us, which is the biggest blessing. The challenge comes in, trying to step out of our comfort zones and persistently pursue Jesus no matter what comes into our path like our brothers and sisters actively living in the persecuted church.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” -Romans 1: 16
- We are able to gain an education to live up to our God-given potential
Yes, sometimes school annoys us, stresses us out, and we pray and pray for it to be over but we must remind ourselves, there are not too many other countries in the world that offer such excellent education (especially available to women). Having the opportunity to choose to go onto college and follow the calling God has put on each of our lives is an astounding gift that we definitely take for granted far too often. Additionally, the potential God has in store for our lives when we surrender over to his plans is infinite. When we allow God to fully use us as his vessels to build up his kingdom, he uses us to make an impact on the world around us and begins to transform lives through his spirit. Acknowledging that there is great power in education and using it for God’s glory is such a way to grow in faith and pursue the calling God has for each of us.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” -Ephesians 1: 18
- We live in the most BEAUTIFUL country in the world
This one is not hard to recognize because the moment you look outside God’s beauty is evident in every aspect of creation. Seriously, who else could shape the Grand Canyon, number each grain of sand on hundreds of beaches nationwide, or bring Disney World life? Everywhere I look God is showing of his beauty in this gorgeous country. I am thankful to live in a place full of massive beautiful landscapes that hold years of history and stories. But also, the ability to find beauty in the simplicity of creation such as a random field in the middle of nowhere with flowers blooming everywhere. If you take a second to stop and look around you, you might just realize this country we live in is insanely beautiful.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11
- We are free and safe
How often do we truly stop to realize that it is not without a cost that we live our daily lives in freedom and safety? America is a wonderful, beautiful, full-of-life place because of the troops that fight everyday to protect our country from harm. They sacrifice so that we can live our daily lives in peace and comfort. Today I remind myself that I am so thankful for the troops that fight to keep our country free and that is never something we should take for granted.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm” –Galatians 1:5
As I reflect upon these four conclusions from the Fourth of July, my prayer is that through all the chaos of our country we would remember these truths and have grateful hearts for that America has to offer. There are so many opportunities to choose joy in our everyday lives, therefore we stop taking these blessings for granted and start finding joy in the great blessings our wonderful nation has to offer. Hope everyone had a fabulous fourth and your summer festivities bring you great joy.