Until my family and I moved to Muleshoe, Texas, over thirty-two years ago, and I discovered the largest and best part of America, the “small town” part, I had never experienced Independence Day as it really ought to be experienced and celebrated. Since that time, I’ve gained new love for this special day.
I don’t know exactly what July 4th means to you. It’s just a date, but all wrapped up in the date, along with mental images of hot dogs, ice cream, and fireworks, are deeper impressions of freedom and liberty—and sacrifice. Very real sacrifices made so that our nation might remain free.
Odd, isn’t it, that freedom itself is never really free? It is, in fact, a very costly thing. The price was paid in literal blood, sweat, and tears. Many, like me, who have personally paid so little of the price of freedom but who share mightily in its blessings, tend to forget what a costly thing it is.
I hope we don’t forget. As a Christian, my love for this nation pales beside my allegiance to Christ who paid the debt to make me truly free, but it is still true that a lifetime of love and devotion to America, this grand experiment in self-government, is not enough even to begin to pay back the debt of gratitude every citizen of this land owes.
It’s a debt, you see, not just to a flag, a nation, a form of government. It’s a debt to the men and women who put their lives and liberty on the line—ordinary people who showed extraordinary courage and uncommon unselfishness by willingly laying aside their own comfort and personal pleasure so that other ordinary people, like you and me, could live as free men and women in a land whose founders recognized liberty as an “inalienable” gift bestowed not by any government but by our Creator.
The debt we owe to those who’ve gone before is real. You don’t have to belong to a particular political party to begin to pay it. You just need to realize that safeguarding your freedom to belong to any party you choose or none at all did not come cheaply.
You don’t have to agree with the domestic or foreign policy of a particular administration of government to begin to pay back that debt. You don’t have to be pleased with the quality of the nominees for high office. You just need to be thankful to live in a land where the voices of the people are heard—even if you sometimes wish they spoke with deeper wisdom and civility.
You don’t have to like everything that has gone on in this nation to begin to pay back the debt we all owe. You just need to love this land.
You’re free not to. That’s the amazing thing about freedom. You’re free not to acknowledge the blessing, not to appreciate it, not to cherish it. You’re free to be selfish and self-seeking, ignorant and arrogant, ungrateful and blind to what is still, in the midst of all of her many shortcomings and challenges, very, very good about this land.
But as long as enough people of good will choose to love this land unselfishly, living and working in ways that show a practical willingness to make sacrifices, large and small, to make this country better, one choice at a time, our nation will still be free.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.