We recently returned from a trip to the east coast, visiting many of the monuments rich in our American history. My husband wants our west coast grandkids to gain a perspective on the freedoms we enjoy in our country.
I’m not a history major, but several exposures to sites in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Liberty Island in New York Harbor, clearly convey the memorable sacrifice many made for a new idea: the vision of a country established “By the people and for the people.” A constitution that begins, “We the people…” A government established taking into account the voice of the people who were largely impacted by the decisions made. The President, Senate and House of Representatives established to balance power. The voice of the people would be heard by those representing them in Congress.
The huge risk taken by our founding fathers (each represented by a full-sized bronze statue in the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia) in drafting and signing this new document is easily forgotten in 2012. I admit there were times when I wondered if our current government leaders remember the life-giving values that drove these early founding fathers and the original documents. It is easy to forget the sacrifices of those gone before us.
I thought of not only early leaders of the United States, but early leaders in biblical times who we know only through reading documents about them, or their own writings. We are because they were…in some way.
George Washington, “the father of his country” and first president of the U.S., was a surveyor, farmer and soldier who rose to command the Colonial forces in the Revolutionary War. He held the ragtag Continental Army together (most famously during a frigid encampment at Valley Forge, PA during the winter of 1777-78) and eventually led them to victory over the British (http://www.who2.com/bio/george-washington). His challenges were monumental, yet because he persisted the new nation was born. Could he have envisioned the extent to which that new nation would flourish?
This reminded me of Abraham. He too overcame monumental challenges in his life as he traveled to “the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Yet God’s promise to bless him, make him into a great nation, and make his name great was only partially experienced while Abraham was on earth. Abraham believed God, so we assume he envisioned what that nation may have looked like. But I wonder if Abraham could have accurately visualized the extent of that promise globally into 2012.
I also wonder if other biblical characters, such as Esther, Deborah, Abel or Daniel, whom we’ve grown to appreciate and even feel an affinity toward, could have envisioned people around the world learning of their determination to stand strong in the Lord in the hard places—to provide hope and help for those around them in trying times. They may have thought of their children and grandchildren, but multiple generations and continents beyond their own immediate influence?
We are thankful and encouraged this Fourth of July when we remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms we in the United States enjoy—both back in the 1700’s and today in various parts of the world. Religious freedom is one of the most cherished.
I am also thankful for those whose life stories were preserved and handed down to us and our children and grandchildren—for our encouragement and strengthening. Especially the biblical characters who were likely living out their daily lives without thoughts of you and me drawing strength in the year 2012 from their individual story.
We are because they were…in some way.
I’m left wondering, what will be remembered about you, about me long after we leave this earth?
What impact are we making today that may bring life to those who come after us?