I celebrated Independence Day in a bittersweet frame of mind. We were spending the holiday at the Lebanon, Virginia, festival because one of our favorite Bluegrass Music Groups, White Top Mountain Band, was there. The crowd that had gathered was enjoying the day with all the usual revelry: family and friends together, games, mountains of food, the promise of fireworks in the evening, and even a parade. And what a parade it was!
As I leaned against the guardrail beside the street and watched as the entries crawled by, I began to weep. I wept through the military entries. I wept through the band performance. My tears flowed as I watched all the children-covered school floats and entries, the fire engines, rescue squads, political floats, and the church floats, especially the one with the young minister as he preached the gospel over the sound system. Everywhere I turned, folks seemed to be enjoying themselves without letting their religious or political differences get in the way. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Psalms 133:1, KJV)
I wept with sadness because most of our world cannot know that. I wept with thankfulness because I was an American and still had the freedom to be a part of such an event. Yes, we can still have parades and festivals in peace. But I also wept because I fear for my country and the downward spiral we are in. So many of our freedoms are being slowly stripped away. Our economy is in shambles. Evil, greed and selfishness abounds. Will we be able to be here and do all these things a year from now?
Later as I sat in the shade near the bandstand, I listened as the master of ceremonies welcomed everyone and expressed his appreciation to all those who had a part in this glorious event. But the best surprise came when he called on everyone to bow their heads to pray. He thanked God for all our blessings. He thanked God for the cost of our freedom. He asked God’s continued blessings on our hurting nation. Then he prayed that God would forgive us for any greed, immorality or selfishness that has contributed to our condition.
When he finished I was weeping and silently thanking God for the greatest freedom of all. That is my own independence day, the day of my deliverance from slavery to sin and the oppression of Satan. The day I surrendered to the Lord and became a Christ follower. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2, NKJV)
(This Inspiration originally posted in July, 2009 – BW)