Is Tomorrow Really Our Independence Day?: Reflecting On the Courage of the Founders
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day America declared her independence from Great Britain.
Or is it?
The Continental Congress actually declared America’s freedom from the British on July 2, 1776. The delegates then went to work editing a draft of their Declaration of Independence prepared by Thomas Jefferson.
Two days later, on July 4, Congress adopted this Declaration, which is why the date is celebrated as Independence Day. But most of the delegates didn’t actually sign the document until August 2; several signed even later.
“The point at which time touches eternity”
The men who acted with such courage in Philadelphia 243 years ago could not have imagined the future significance of their present faithfulness. That’s because we live in a universe bound by time—we can remember the past and anticipate the future, but we can experience only the present.
In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has a demonic tempter named Screwtape write to his nephew Wormwood: “The humans live in time but our Enemy [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
Why does God want us to focus on today?
Screwtape explains: “Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”
Traveling into the future by horseback
The Founders were faithful to their moment in history. They were courageous enough to stand against the mightiest empire the world had ever seen for the sake of their national freedom. They could hope for a future filled with prosperity and peace, but they could not imagine the nation we have become.
While Benjamin Franklin “discovered” electricity in 1752, half of America’s homes did not have electric power until 1925. The Founders traveled to Philadelphia in 1776 by horseback or wagons; the first car would not become available to the public for another 132 years.
In colonial America, four in ten children died before the age of six; up to half of all black children died before their first birthday. Only 5 percent of the colonial population lived in cities; 80 percent do so today.
If some of the wisest men America has ever known could not foresee a future that would be so different from the present, neither can we.
Tyler Skaggs and Amelia Earhart
Tyler Skaggs was a twenty-seven-year-old starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. His team came to Texas to begin a series Monday night. However, he was found dead in his hotel room several hours before the game was scheduled to begin.
The game was quickly postponed. An autopsy was performed yesterday, but the cause of death has not been determined.
The previous day, a plane crash at Addison Airport in the Dallas area claimed the lives of ten people, including two children. The airport is just a few miles from my home; I have flown from it many times over the years.
In other news, Monday would have been the fifty-eighth birthday of Princess Diana, who was born on July 1, 1961. Eighty-two years ago yesterday, Amelia Earhart went missing over the Pacific as she attempted the first ever female around-the-world flight.
“Redeeming the time”
The past proves that the future is uncertain and the present is all we have. That’s why “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16 NKJV) is so urgent.
Here’s a fact that has encouraged me greatly: God has a will not only for where we live but also for when we live.
Most of us know that our Father calls us to places where we can serve him best. Paul’s Macedonian call (Acts 16:6–10) is just one example of such providence.
But he also has a will for the time in which we live and serve. It is by his providence that you were not alive a century ago or a century from now (if the Lord tarries).
If you could not be faithful in this moment in time, you would not be alive in this moment in time. If Jesus couldn’t use your life to change your culture for his glory and our good, you would not be alive in this culture.
“The Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient”
On this Independence Day Eve, let us pledge to serve our Lord and our nation as sacrificially as those whose courage made possible our independence. The best way to honor their commitment is to make it our own.
Three years after Samuel Adams organized the Boston Tea Party, he signed the Declaration of Independence and made this personal declaration: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”
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Publication Date: July 3, 2019
Photo Courtesy: Paul Weaver/Unsplash