In light of the upcoming holiday, the team at Generations has compiled a printable download of 5 Amazing Stories of God's Providence in American History that you can read aloud with your family. It is our desire to recall to mind the wondrous works of God in the formation and preservation of our country, and we hope that you and your family are encouraged by these short - yet incredible accounts of God's power in history.
Despite our best intentions, the Fourth of July often dissolves into the lowest-common-denominator American holiday comprised of time off from work, burnt hot dogs, and a fireworks display with the family -- if we can stomach the crowds.
As Christians, we know better!
Written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 gutsy patriots on July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was a confrontational document recording the colonists’ objections to the 27 “repeated injuries and usurpations” under England’s King George III who sought to establish a tyrannical government in North America.
One of my favorite lines is the final one which concludes with these words: “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Two things stand out.
First, our Founding Fathers acknowledged their firm reliance on Almighty God. They understood well that the very reason their Pilgrim forefathers had arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 was to taste the pure, unadulterated freedom of religion that had become increasingly threatened in Europe.
Second, when they picked up that quill pen, dipped it thoughtfully into the inkwell, I have no doubt that -- starting with John Hancock himself, the president of the Second Continental Congress -- they thought long and hard before they signed their names.
Some three months after signing the Declaration, WallBuilders ministry notes that Richard Stockton “was kidnapped one night by a band of British Loyalists. He was placed into a barbaric prison where he was abused and mistreated. Congress eventually learned of his imprisonment by the British and moved to secure his freedom, but his health was so destroyed that he never recovered. He died on February 28, 1781, never having seen the end of the war, or the liberty that he had worked to secure for others.”
Indeed, they truly pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They had taken the admonition of Luke 14:28 to heart: “Sit down and count the cost.”
In the busyness of life with its pressing obligations, we easily lose sight of our inspiring history as a Christian nation built on the founders’ sacrifices.
Sixty-one years later -- to the day -- John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, connected the dots between the birth of America and the birth of Jesus. It was a remarkable insight!
On July 4, 1837, he spoke these words: "Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? ... Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation?
“Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth. That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?"
If those words of President Adams didn’t give you goosebumps, take a look at your big toe. There might be a tag on it; you’re dead!
Perhaps you’re echoing the prayer of King David from Psalm 90:12 right now when he wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
As you look toward tomorrow’s celebration of Independence Day, and desire to redeem the time, may I urge you to print out these amazing stories right now.
These short stories include:
· David Brainerd and the Crossweeksung Revival
· John Quincy Adams argues the Amistad Case
· Nathan Bedford Forrest's Conversion
· George Washington Carver before Congress
· Battle of King's Mountain
Let me give you just a taste of one of my favorites.
On January 20, 1921, a humble dark-skinned man with a high pitched voice entered the US Capitol in Washington DC for the first time. This former slave was one of the world’s greatest agricultural scientists and inventors. His name was George Washington Carver.
Carver had been invited to Washington to testify before the House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee about his scientific work. There he explained to the nation’s most powerful leaders that peanuts and sweet potatoes were “two of the greatest products God has ever given to us.” Then he demonstrated a number of products which he had developed from the peanut.
Wrapping up his testimony to the committee, Carver said:
“If you go to the first chapter of Genesis, we can interpret very clearly, I think, what God intended when he said, ‘Behold I have given you every herb that bears seed upon the face of the earth, and every tree bearing seed. To you it shall be meat’ [Genesis 1:29]. That is what he means about it. ‘It shall be meat.’ There is everything there to strengthen and nourish and keep the body alive and healthy.”
A period of questioning followed. The committee chairman asked, “Dr. Carver, how did you learn all of these things?”
Carver answered: “From an old book.”
“What book?” asked the Chairman.
Carver replied, “The Bible.”
The Chairman inquired, “Does the Bible tell about peanuts?”
“No, sir,” Dr. Carver replied, “but it tells about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did.”
Although Dr. Carver was ridiculed by the secular press, he remained unashamed of the Creator.
Have you heard that story before? I can virtually assure you that the government school’s curriculum will be silent when it comes to these American historical vignettes.
While those who are at enmity with God celebrate the censorship of our Christian heritage, it’s our responsibility as Christian parents to always put it in front of our children.
After printing out these stories, why not read one or two aloud during breakfast tomorrow morning? Ask questions. Invite feedback. You could use another as the basis for your day’s family worship and perhaps read another two when the extended family has gathered together for your Fourth of July meal – wherever that might be.
As Christ followers, Independence Day should be so much more than just waving Old Glory and taking a break from the routine. It’s a providential opportunity to declare our dependence on our God and find refreshing encouragement in the faithful Christian witness of those Bible-believing Americans who came before us.