Commit your way to the LORD. (Psalm 37:5, NIV)
Americans will make a mistake today (sorry, little late), well intended, good hearted, but none-the-less, a mistake. I’ve seen it begin already as June ended and the calendar pressed forward to this day, the Fourth of July.
I’ve seen it mostly in the e-mails, the blogs, the Facebook postings of well-intentioned citizens asking me to take this Holiday and think about what freedom cost, to remember the men and the women of the Armed Forces and their sacrifice as the prime example of the cost of freedom. The suggestion is that if we stop a moment and think about their sacrifice and their suffering then we will have honored the Holiday and made ourselves worthy of it and justified the picnics, the ball games, the BBQs, and the fireworks.
I know this to be true because for years I have done it myself. I figure that I have a leg up on most of you because I didn’t have to conjure up pictures and videos of men and women in uniform, long rows of white crosses and stars of David, heart-warming clips of homecomings. I wish I could say I had a front row seat to America’s sacrifice, but Dover’s mortuary puts one right down on the field, not a picture, not a video, but face to face with the actual ultimate price of liberty.
But America has already given me a Holiday to honor them and the cost they have paid — it’s called Memorial Day. America has given me another holiday to honor those who paid a price and by God’s grace came back alive — it’s called Veteran’s day. Today, Independence day, we make the mistake of trying to squeeze one more day in to honor our brave men and women of the armed forces and while that’s never a bad thing, I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not the purpose of this Holiday.
This Holiday does not celebrate the cost of our country’s military, but the commitment of its citizenry. We all know the famous lines from the Declaration . . . “We hold these truths to be self-evident” .
. . But what of the last line? . . . “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
This is a day to remember their commitment to the higher ideal of Freedom.
Their commitment was established before the cost was paid.
And pay a cost they did — giving their lives, their families, their health, their homes, their businesses, but that’s no less than they pledged to each other.
What commitment! That’s what I want to remember today — I want to contemplate the deep core of character these men had who committed themselves to giving up life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for themselves in order to give life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to others living and to other generations not yet born. I want to be a man who makes commitments, good and noble commitments and follows through with them even when the cost was more than I imagined when I made the commitment.
When I was sixteen, I committed myself to being a follower of Jesus Christ
– I will keep that commitment to the day I die. When I was twenty-one, I committed myself to a beautiful woman while standing before God and witnesses — I will keep that commitment to the day I die. When I was twenty-eight, I committed myself to defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and though I have been retired from Active Duty, I will honor that commitment until the day I die.
When I was 25, 31 and 33, I made the commitment to be a father to three children, not just to raise them, but to be their father — I will keep that commitment until the day I die.
Costs follow commitment! If I make no commitment, then anything that happens is just a by-product of chance. If I make the commitment, then I am saying, “let cost come — it will not deter me from what I have pledged.”
So, today, I am reminded that I want to be a man of commitment, to God and His people, to my wife, to my children, to my country. I may have not paid the ultimate cost in any of these things yet, but I have made the ultimate commitments and I shall keep them regardless the cost.
To Whom, divine or earthly, are you committed today? To what ideals have you pledged yourself? Do you recognize that those who pledged themselves to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness gave theirs up — can you do no less?
It’s the fourth of July — make it yours . . . Commit!