Last 4th of July I remember sitting back among a crowd of strangers as we all watched a fireworks show. This year, our celebration of independence will look a bit different. It will be smaller and socially distant (but at least I will get to use my new grill!). Yet even with everything that is going on I still find it good to pause and reflect on the things, values, and rights that I am thankful for.
As a songwriter, I am thankful to live in a land where I have access to the technology I need to write, record, and publish songs. Just 50 years ago it would be unthinkable for the common citizen to have the gear needed to make their own, quality, music videos, lyric videos, and audio recordings. Today, I can just reach into my pocket, pull out my phone, and if the algorithm on Youtube is kind, I’ll reach a global audience.
I am also thankful for family. Both my biological family and my church family. Without them, how could I ever experience the encouragement that comes from fellow Christians speaking in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? Hearing them sing brings such uplifting joy. It is one thing to write a song then sing it in the solitude of my office. It is quite another thing to hear the body of Christ join together in one voice and use the words of that song to praise our Creator.
Finally (at least for this post), I am thankful that I live in a country that upholds our freedom of speech. I can run a website with the tag line “writing songs to glorify God” and not once have I feared that the government is going to come and lock me up for expressing my beliefs. We can openly gather for worship, even proclaim the message of the Gospel through blasting PA systems and publicly available livestreams and never think “will the government try to kill me for this?”. I could have been born in a country that arrests pastors if they stray outside of the government’s teachings or in a place where missionaries are kidnapped, tortured, and killed for trying to spread the good news. Instead, I was born in America where I am free and able to proclaim the Gospel, write and record worship songs, and flip burgers on the grill.
I pray that God will preserve these rights through His church, our politicians, and people of this country. May these rights be preserved not just for me and the people who think like me but for all people, of every race, culture, religion, and background. No government will be perfect, at least not until Christ returns. In the meantime may we strive to uphold justice, love our neighbors, and give thanks for all things, both the blessings that bring us joy and the trials that transform us into the image of Christ.
Happy 4th of July. May your burgers come out medium and you laughs be many.