It’s a family tradition. Almost every Fourth of July, our family gathers together and I read Paul Harvey’s essay, Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor. It’s “the rest of the story” of the heroic, sacrificial lives of the fifty-six men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor by affixing their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. For almost every one of those men, their pledge was prophetic. America’s tearing away from tyranny cost these signatories their fortunes, their reputations, and in some cases, their very lives.
Today in America it can often seem that the hopeful, blazing vision that burned so brightly in these patriots has been reduced to a few smoldering embers. As we prepare to celebrate our beloved country’s birthday, we’re drowning in a vast ocean of red ink. Little rogue despots flaunt their nuclear saber rattling, taunting and deriding us. And our culture seems hell-bent on change – away from biblical values into an abyss of secularism.
Yet today – at least for today – we remain free. While our nation may literally be living on borrowed time (we’ve borrowed everything else), we still have the privilege of proclaiming and propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I, for one, intend to seize this day. At the same time I’m crying out to God for His intervention and heaven-sent revival for our nation.
Katherine Lee Bates’ magnificent words in “America the Beautiful” contain an often misunderstood phrase –
America, America, God shed His grace on thee.
When I sang those words as a boy I thought she was stating a fact, that God had indeed shed His grace on us as a nation. But if you look carefully at those words, you realize the writer is actually praying – petitioning God for His mercy on America. When the next phrase is added, its construct as a heart-felt prayer is clear:
America, America, God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
This is my prayer for America too. But Bates’ heavenward plea continues. How pertinent is her petition amidst the rabid corruption and greed wrecking havoc over our country:
America, America, God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law.
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.
It’s a good thing to fire up the grill this Fourth of July. Take in a ball game. Watch the fireworks. Let’s enjoy our precious liberty that came at such a great price.
But let’s do more. Let’s pray for America. And let’s gather our families and pray for America. Another national hymn contains another powerful prayer:
Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, great God, our King.
Article written by: David Shibley