What’s the first thought that pops into your head when you hear the phrase, “Fourth of July”? For me, it’s two words: “sacrifice” and “freedom”. There’s first and foremost a reverence about Independence Day that comes with remembering the men and women who went before us, many of whom paid the ultimate price, to make – and keep – our country what it is: free. But the Fourth of July’s a time for celebration, too – a chance to enjoy the abundant privileges of life in this Land Of The Free. I don’t know that there’s any day of the year that better focuses our hearts on gratitude, respect, and appreciation for both sacrifice and freedom, than July 4th.
But this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the FIFTH of
July. We set aside a day (and rightfully so) to intentionally remember and
revel in an event of great magnitude. Our whole country stops and collectively
basks in the enormity of the occasion. We CELEBRATE! But what about when the
day’s over? When the parades are finished, the fireworks have all been lit, and
the last refrain of “God Bless America” has been sung? For most of us, we’ll
wake up on July 5th, and it’ll be back to business as usual, the festivities of
the previous day already no more than a memory on Instagram.
The day we decided to proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior,
to ask forgiveness for our sins, to accept His free gift of salvation…that day was
our spiritual “Fourth of July”. We saw life through a new lens of freedom for
the first time – freedom bought at a price, paid for by Someone else’s
sacrifice – and it made us want to live differently from that day forward. On
that day, we stood on the proverbial mountaintop, and the joy and gratitude we
felt could probably be seen and heard by everyone around us because we just
couldn’t contain our excitement! Over time, though, those “peak” experiences
fade; the trials and tribulations of life in a broken world start to wear and
tear at the euphoria we first experienced on that glorious day when we became
part of God’s family forever. Temptation draws our eyes away from our Savior
and back to our circumstances. And like he always does, the enemy comes barging
in to crash the party. Eventually, our spiritual “Fourth of July” fades, and our
spiritual “Fifth of July” becomes just another, ordinary day.
But what would happen if we chose to live the same way on the
Fifth as we do on the Fourth? With hearts intentionally full of reverence for
the sacrifices made on our behalf, full of gratitude for the blessings and
privileges we enjoy on a daily basis, and full of joy that comes from living in
freedom not one day of the year, but every day of our lives?
Let’s challenge ourselves this FIFTH of July to wake up with the same deliberate sense of gratitude we felt the day before – not only for our temporary homeland here on earth, but for our eternal Home in Heaven with our Father. Let’s celebrate the victory that Jesus won on our behalf 2000 years ago, when He paid the price for us to become children of the Most High God. And let’s live on purpose for a purpose, knowing that we’ve been given the gift of true freedom in Christ – a freedom we’ll celebrate not for one day, but for all of eternity!