This year we will celebrate a Great Experiment that began two hundred and thirty six years ago, based on the inspired and inspiring idea that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are a divinely given right afforded to all.
Considering the backdrop before which Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Revolutionary co-authors gave this principle its first written expression, the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” were not only treasonous, they were staggering! The scope of this declaration is breathtaking, not only in its prose, but in its ramifications. Whatever your background, wherever you live – from sea to shining sea, whether you’re red or yellow, black or white (or any color in between), whatever your station in life, these words speak of a fundamental, qualitative equality, an essential dignity in all people, and every person’s freedom and right to build a life that is meaningful and satisfying. These are rights granted to and inherent in all – and they are truths that are held to be self-evident.
The fact that such ideals are at the root of our American society give us reason to celebrate, and to pause. Such freedom comes at a cost, and for so many of us, that cost was paid by another who was willing to make tremendous sacrifice on our behalf. How much the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and all who would fight for the liberation of this land were willing to sacrifice is humbling, to say the least. And while thinking on these things is enough to illicit a strong sense of gratitude, they also compel me to consider the God Who bestows upon us the unalienable rights that so many have died to protect. On a grander scale, there is another powerful force seeking to hold us under its tyrannical sway, namely that of sin. And in truly heroic fashion, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in our place that we might experience liberation on a level that has the potential to impact every area of our lives, and even our society as a whole!
These are lofty ideas to consider, and they are worthy of regular remembrance. The task of building the kind of nation that our Founding Fathers sought to build would be accomplished through tremendous effort, and by the providential hand of God. History records the daily and desperate prayers of these brave men, whose signatures on the Declaration was akin to the signing of their own death warrants. The storied events that would follow describe a nation and its leaders whose dependence upon the Lord was often met with miraculous response from the Almighty. I’d direct you to American historian David Barton (www.wallbuilders.com) to read of the incredible workings of God in these formative years. We would certainly do well to seek Him in our day with the same measure of trust and fervency that they did in theirs!
The foundations that our nation stands upon are not only strong, but they are good. The principles that were laid down as a path for our course are enduring, because their roots tap the deep river of eternal truth. The quote had been ascribed to Alexis de Tocqueville (though there is question as to his having penned it. Nevertheless, I believe the adage itself is still sound), that America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great. Observant parties might disagree on our current place on the moral spectrum, but one thing is for sure, that God will honor a nation that honors Him (Cp. Psalm 33:12).
May God shed His grace on us, stand beside us and guide us through the night with a light from above.
God bless America!