July 4th–a day to celebrate Independence or being IN dependence?
Although the name of this National Holiday is officially “Independence Day”, many simply refer to it as July 4th. This commemoration of our country’s freedom has literally been around since the beginning! From the first celebrations, food, fireworks, and family gatherings have been a part of the ways we participate in this day of Independence.
I can just imagine July 4, 1777- the one year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Despite the festivities which included gun salutes, fireworks, and parades, there was also music and praying. I wonder if the occasion wasn’t on the one hand festive and celebratory and on the other hand somber and contemplative. Think about it… some of the people at these first celebrations were wounded in battle, still actively fighting to protect our independence, or family members of those killed in the struggle to assert and maintain the freedom our country declared. I believe the prayers were not just ones of thanksgiving, but ones asking God for comfort, healing, and strength.
From what I have read about the first celebrations of Independence Day, it seems that our forefathers, while fighting so desperately for Independence also recognized that they lived IN dependence on God. From prayers at the first celebration to the moving the festivities to the 5th of July in 1779 so as not to interfere with church services, there seemed to be an acknowledgement of God’s involvement in our freedom. This is also expressed in many songs associated with Independence Day. Here are some examples:
Star-Spangled Banner (last verse): “Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
God Bless America: ” God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with a light from above.”
It is in the song, “America, The Beautiful” that we see a clearly a correlation between independence and IN dependence:
“America! America!God mend thine ev’ry flaw,Confirm thy soul in self-control,Thy liberty in law.” We see here a prayer for God to mend flaws of a nation. How? By “confirming” our souls and our liberty. The word “confirm” has several meanings, one of which is “to make firmer, to strengthen.” Our souls are strengthened through self-control, our freedom is made stronger by law.
For me to understand this, I have use my familiar metaphor of the body which is also strengthened through control and by following the “law” of the body. In order for the muscles of the body to be strengthened, we must learn to control them, to tell them what we expect them to do. Our body has certain characteristics, laws we must follow. When we listen to what our body tells us and follow these “laws” we strengthen ourselves. Here is an example: The Push-up
We do the push up to build our arm strength. So, in order to do that, we need to follow the law of proper body alignment. It is only when we align the body properly that we are FREE to use the proper muscles. Otherwise we are DEPENDENT on the wrong body parts (lower back, shoulders) to lift us up. We also need to control the movement as we lower and lift the body, staying within the law of alignment, in order to build the strength–a strength that gives us freedom, the independence to use these muscles in our lives. I often hear the stories of people who, after learning about the “laws” of alignment and control, have gained strength which provides them freedom to move in ways they were unable to experience before. So, in essence, they found liberty through the practice of law! The Bible talks about this in James (1: 22-25): “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.“
Whether we are practicing fitness, freedom, or faith, we must acknowledge that we are at the same time independent AND in dependence. Our body is free to move MORE within the laws of alignment, our country’s freedom and our individual freedoms are made stronger by the laws that support our freedoms, and our faith is made firm as we depend on God’s Word, His Will, His Law to move us with self-control and freedom from sin. As we celebrate Independence Day, let us remember that we experience Independence by living IN Dependence on God. Like our forefathers, let us be thankful for the self-control that strengthens our souls and the liberty we experience through law. Let us thank God for the experience of all types of freedoms: in our country and in our hearts.