As I worked on what would be my next post, for some reason, which I’m sure was the Lord, a detour sign raised up and lead my thoughts to birthdays. Not only is it our country’s birthday on July 4, but it is my birthday on July 5.
My birthday, I can forget. Our country’s birthday, I cannot forget.
I thought about… celebrating our country’s birth day. I know there will be numerous blog posts for this occasion, but, as I thought back over the years, great memories came flooding back.
I thought about… when my parents were alive. They belonged to several groups of friends, but one group in particular had been friends since before World War II began. Most of the men joined some branch of the services. My dad joined the Navy and that is where he met my mother. Dad played the trombone for the Navy band and Mom was a secretary.
This group of friends always gathered for special occasions and July 4th was no exception. After several years of it being held at different homes, it finally settled on my parents to hold the celebration at their home.
This was usually a huge gathering of families with some having four generations attend. My mother loved to go all out with the decorations for the tables. Red and white checked tablecloths, blue napkins, flags, flowers…everything red, white, and blue. One of the men, whose birthday was on the 4th, always shared a large cake with me. He’s no longer with us either.
I thought about… the year this country celebrated the great bicentennial and watching on the television the awesome festivities, which included an international fleet of tall ships in New York City’s harbor and the beautiful array of fireworks over the Statue of Liberty.
A wave of patriotism and nostalgia swept over the nation. People decorated practically everything from the front doors of their homes or businesses to their mailboxes and even fire hydrants.
Flags hung everywhere or were painted on. Trains were painted in stripes of red, white, and blue. NASA painted the flag and the bicentennial symbol on the side of its vehicle assembly building.
Commercial products by the score displayed packaging of red, white, and blue. Many paid a fee to use the trademarked bicentennial star. Some the TV coverage lasted for fourteen hours. Disney went all out, even changing the theme of their nighttime parade.
I remember all the celebration but I don’t remember the stories of the pilgrims, the ones who started it all. If there were stories, they didn’t stick in my memory.
So, I thought about… the reason that the pilgrims embarked on such a dangerous journey to leave their home to settle in some strange land.
The pilgrims were a religious group who left England as they had been persecuted by the Church of England. As they were about to set sail for Holland, John Robinson, as the pastor of their church who was staying behind, preached before they left on Ezra 8:21. Ezra 8:21-22 says, “When I declared a fast while we were at the Ahava River so that we would humble ourselves before our God; and we prayed that He would give us a good journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled.” (TLB)
As they also found their religious liberty curtailed in Holland, they decided to go back to England and set out for a New England. They left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620, sailing for a new world of promise.
Aboard ship, they found that the sailors resented their daily prayers, hymns, and scripture reading sessions, but, in the end, the sailors admitted that the pilgrims were strong and brave.
When they disembarked and stepped on shore at Plymouth Rock, they knelt in prayer and held a prayer service. Prayer was the basis for all they had done and all they would do.
I then thought about… those prayers of the pilgrims that undergirded the foundation of this nation and brought about the reason for celebrating Independence Day.
I thought about… those precious souls who put their lives on the line for this country that we might enjoy the freedoms and privileges that we do. God bless all of you!
I thought about… the great freedom of religion this country has enjoyed through the efforts and courage of those 102 people. However, are our rights and privileges as Christians in this nation being eroded? Have prayers for this country ceased?
I thought about… praying as the first settlers did. Do we bend our knees for our country? Do we pray for our President and all who are in authority? Do we pray as Paul instructed Timothy, “Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all He is going to do for them. Pray in this way for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord” (1 Tim 2:1-2 TLB)?
My last thought… I would like to challenge all of you to give some serious thought as to the prayers you are offering, or not offering, for this country and its leaders. Is there any room for improvement? What would happen if we all became better knee-benders for the country we say we love?
Happy Birthday, USA!
~~Happy Independence Day, everyone!~~