Independence Day

On this Independence Day, it seems appropriate to reflect on what we celebrate. This day is a celebration of the birthing of an ideal, a dream that hadn’t existed before. The forming of the United States of America was a radical change from any form of government that had existed before up to that time. And for the last 240 years this land has seen the blessing of the Lord – a land of freedom, peace, prosperity and opportunity. It is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave.
But what has made this country great is neither democracy nor capitalism, in and of themselves. Instead, it has been it’s foundation of a willing submission of all of its affairs to God. Read the words of Benjamin Franklin during the 1787 Constitutional Convention:

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other — our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their  Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

That foundation of prayer caused this country to rise as a beacon of light to the world.
Is this country perfect? Its ideals are; but how they have been carried out leave much to be desired. We can see how our systems and structures have been corrupted by greed and self interest. But this was predicted by Alexis de Tocqueville when he studied the phenomenon of this infant nation and said:
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
I’m not writing this to make a political statement, but to call us back to the place of Prayer. It is to call us back to a place of willing submission to God for all of our affairs. For it is only when we are free from ourselves, and free to be other-centered, that we can have true liberty, and that our great nation can be healed.

Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016