Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
The Lord to Solomon: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
II Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
He couldn’t have known the significance it would have in our nation’s history. Yet something within spurred him to call for the inscription.
When the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 ordered that a new bell be cast for the State House, he directed that a Bible verse be inscribed on the bell. The verse he chose was Leviticus 25: 10, which read:
“PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGOUT THE LAND
UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.”
Thereafter, on July 8, 1776 that bell then hanging in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (later dubbed, in the 1830’s, with the name “Liberty Bell”), was rung to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to the first public hearing of the “Declaration of Independence,” read that day by Colonel John Nixon. A Declaration which had been unanimously declared, passed and embraced by the Second Continental Congress just four days earlier on July 4, 1776, and which declared in part that:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World…do…solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;…
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
When those fifty-six signers of that Declaration of Independence signed that document, they knew that what they were doing could cost them everything, including their families and lives. But they signed it anyway. The liberty and freedom they sought for themselves, their families and their beloved colonies was at stake. You can’t help but wonder if they had any idea at all of the impact and significance thereafter, which that moment in history would have. They couldn’t possibly have known.
It was a moment in history on the road to independence, on the road to freedom, and on to liberty. It is a moment for us to remember and reclaim today.
And I wonder if we are at another such moment in our history today. But if we look back on the history of this great nation, we realize that there have been a number of points and times in our history of similar significance, of decision, and impact. Times where we have been called to remember who we are as a nation, and as a people. Times where those who have gone before us stepped forward to remember and return to who they were as individuals and as a nation.
We stand at such a point again. But not just a point where we remember, but at a point which is a call to action, and a call to return to all we were and all we were founded upon.
We are at a moment in our history where we can shrink before all the problems we face, and the direction we seem to be headed, based upon decisions being made by others around us—whether they come from outside our borders or within. Or we are at a moment in our history where we can stand firm, step out, sound off and proclaim and embrace anew the ideals upon which this great Country was founded—grounded in the ideals of liberty and freedom which have been there to guide our steps since the very beginning of our foundations as a nation.
Ideals grounded in a firm reliance upon the leadership of God.
We are at a critical moment of renewal and opportunity to return to the ideals and values which guided our steps from the very beginning of our foundations. A time where we remember that the direction for our renewal won’t come from the feckless halls of Congress, or from the ideological biases of the Supreme Court or other courts, or from the whims emanating from the White House.
And there are times in our own lives—personally or professionally—when we have stood, at times feeling all alone, at those moments of decision and renewal, needing a return to those same ideals in our personal lives as well. Moments where things seem to be going in the wrong direction. Seasons of disappointment or discouragement. Moments when it is not clear what the next step should be for our lives, or where we can turn for the answer and guidance we need. Periods where we forgot who we really are and how wonderfully we are created for an incredible purpose.
And renewal for all that, for our lives and country, will be found in the same place our founders looked, in the same place that the Speaker of that Pennsylvania Assembly looked in 1751, in where those fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence looked, and where the Lord has been pointing His people all the time as He spoke to Solomon in the passage of scripture set out above.
The only place where renewal, direction and return to who we are will ever be found—is in God. The God who created us and set the course upon which this great nation was established.
The same place that Patrick Henry pointed us again on March 23, 1775, when he stood to proclaim in the Virginia House of Burgesses that:
“Three million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. We shall not fight alone. God presides over the destinies of nations, and will raise up friends for us…
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
We are at yet another such juncture in our history as a nation. A place where we are called to remember and return. We may be there personally as well—there will be times when we are.
And on the occasion of this Independence Day celebration that we celebrated this past weekend, we again have a choice as Americans to take the road that demonstrates that we remember who we are, Whose we are, and where we come from—or to take another path which others have laid out before us. We will have that choice long after the barbeque coals have cooled and turned to ash, and the fireworks remain only as a sparkling memory, and the choruses of patriotic songs have faded into the recesses of our heart strings.
This is a time to remember again those words above spoken to Solomon, and to return to the Lord who spoke them:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Another moment in our nation’s history. A moment in your personal or professional life.
Where will we look? Will you stand with those who have gone before us like those fifty-six signers and others like them through the centuries, on whose shoulders we now stand?
Where will we look as a nation, as individuals, to find renewal and a return to who we really are, and all who we were really meant to be? Will we have the courage to stand and return?
And on this occasion of the celebration of Independence Day, and every day, our answer to where we look and return, must be—to God, and God alone.
That is the only place, and He is the only One, to return to for renewal as a nation and as individuals.
Happy Fourth of July, and may God renew, bless and return us to the America He created!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2015. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.