I’ve celebrated quite a number of Independence Days. Each one is a bit different. I remember fireworks celebrations with our church group in a big open field at a friend’s home and small time stuff in a family member’s subdivision that scared me because of the lack of safety. I’ve sat facing Salt River at our city’s professional pyrotechnical display with a giant ice cream cone to occupy my taste buds. Then there was the year when the grandchildren were very small and Sweet William was prepared to “wow” them with some simple home fireworks. At the very first shoot-off, the noise scared the children into loud weeping. That ended our best laid plans for fun.
Last July 4th, the grandchildren were spending the night. We made plans to attend Shepherdsville’s fireworks show, but rain prevented it starting on time. I decided it was late and time to go to bed.
Just as I was tucking Ethan in, we heard the commotion of firecrackers and rockets in the sky. I raised the shade in the bedroom, and there was the beginnings of a light show. The children and I went to the back deck to watch. Then we went to the front porch to get another view. We saw colors in the dark night coming in the direction of one of our neighbor’s yards. All of us in our house slippers and PJs began walking toward the light.
We “oohed and aahed” as each pop pulled our eyes upward. As we passed the oak trees along our route, Ethan took my hand and said, “I hope we don’t see that evil squirrel.”
It made me smile. He seemed so little last year.
Each Fourth of July I get out the American flag, the one that was draped across my Grandfather Charles Lockard’s casket at his death. He was a World War I veteran. Since his wife preceded him in death and because my mother was the oldest of the three children, she was presented with the flag. When she died, I became it’s keeper.
I cherish that flag and think of my Gramps when I carefully unfold it and hang it on the deck railing. I feel proud and patriotic at the same time. I hope people coming down my lane see it and think of this great country. I contemplate America’s history and how we have been unusually blessed by Almighty God.
We Americans value our freedom, we relish it, flash it around, claim it, defend it, and dare anyone to take it from us. I suppose it is the main reason citizens from other countries long to come here, to have the privilege of living a life that is free to choose.
I’ve wondered and have heard others wonder why God make Adam and Eve with the right to choose good and evil. Couldn’t He just as easily have made us all permanently incapable of sin, to live evermore in a perfect world? It would seem to be a much better way than allowing people to kill, steal, injure, lust, and turn away from a good God
But God gave man and woman the gift of freedom, the right to choose. It was a beautiful gift He offered. Too bad we make the wrong choices so often that we have wrecked and ruined our lives and our world.
I ponder what a treasure my American freedom is, how I am thankful to have been born a free individual, and how I want to treat that freedom with respect and honor.
I also ponder the gift of freedom God gave to me. Even more, I am thankful for the gift of salvation that saved me from all the wrong choices I made in my “free-ness” to grasp what would satisfy my self-centered and selfish nature.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” said Paul to the Galatians (5:1). As you have heard it said, “Freedom is never free.” Our country’s freedom has been won and preserved with the blood of men and women who fought for it. My personal salvation, offered as a free gift, was bought with the blood of a Savior-God who gave me freedom, watched me sell it for slavery, then willingly bought it back and set me free once again.
He who has been set free is free indeed!
May God continue to bless America, not because we deserve it, but because God is good.