Happy Independence Day, America. Today is a special day of the year where we take a step back to reflect on the blessing of living in a free country. We take the time to salute a soldier, thank our military and remember the fallen. Churches make a point of thanking God for the freedom to worship and pray without the fear of imprisonment and even death. Family and friends gather together in the comfort of their homes and communities, sharing in the simple joys of a hot BBQ and the twinkling of sparklers - some even take the twinkle and make it a bang with the inclusion of backyard fireworks.
364 days a year I overlook the immense blessing it is to live in this country. How many days have gone by that I haven't even given a moment's thought to the sacrifices given by so many so I can enjoy the simple, free life I have come to take for granted?
If I were to wake up in Pakistan I would be in constant fear of imprisonment for my faith because of bogus claims of blasphemy by Muslims who seek to silence Christians. If I had been born in Africa I might not have a family due to the devastating diseases that rip families apart and take the lives of the young and the old. Being born in China could be a death sentence. Not only do they discriminate against girls but they limit the number of children that can be in any one family. In a country such as Germany the strong Christian influence that seeps into all areas of American life would be missing. The diminishing number of churches in that country and the rest of Europe is astonishing and a travesty. In North Korea the situation is even bleaker. The government actively seeks to persecute Christians. They have driven them underground but even out of the public eye practicing Christians face unspeakable danger.
Here in America I wake up in a comfortable, queen sized bed with soft, clean sheets and the sweet sound of a song bird outside my window. I make my way into my kitchen well stocked with eggs, vegetables, breads, flavorful spices and healthy supplements. I recline on my comfortable couch with one of my many copies of the Bible and favorite devotional books to start my morning. I don't have to hide the names on the covers of these books and I don't have to study in secret. On Sunday mornings I am welcomed into a body of believers singing praises in the company of hundreds who share in the same song. Throughout the week my opportunity to publicly and openly share in the gospel with brothers and sisters in Christ are far too great to number.
From morning to evening my day is characterized by comforts unknown to so many people around the world. And it is all because I was born here, in America. I was born into a country that men scarified their lives to obtain and protect. Our Founding Fathers faced great persecution and threats when they left their home land in search of a place where they could be truly free. Now men and women put on their military boots to secure that same fundamental right. They put their lives in danger every day so that I can wake up free and safe.
I am thankful for a day to reflect on what my fellow citizens have sacrificed to secure the life I have come to know and love. My only regret is that I don't take this time to be thankful more then once a year.
So, thank you to the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence all those years ago. The leap of faith they took paved the way for the life I enjoy today. And I thank all the men and women who leave their families, homes and safety so that they can protect me and the rest of America. Words can not describe how thankful and grateful I am for your sacrifice. You have given your lives for my freedom. There is no greater sacrifice.