By Marilyn Tinnin
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliott
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
I am red, white, and blue to the core. My parents made me that way. I can never remember a time when our dinner table conversation did not include some chatter about the government and the politics of the day. I am pretty sure I have told you before that when I was about three or four years old, I named my Christmas doll, “Ike.” After all, as often as President Eisenhower was mentioned over breakfast bacon, I thought he must be a revered uncle at the very least.
I am also a product of public schools from an era when American history was front and center from the get-go. In the first grade, we colored pictures of little George Washington confessing to his father that he had chopped down the Cherry Tree. (Truth or myth, I learned that men of character tell the truth.) Right through Honest Abe and Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and beyond, I learned America’s story, its principles, and why it was a very special country. We enjoyed a freedom that citizens of many other nations did not enjoy, and when I heard the melodious strains of “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” or “The Star-Spangled Banner,” there were goose bumps, maybe even a tear or two, and pride. I was also thankful and a bit in awe that I could be so blessed to have been born in a nation that did not define my future by my blue blood or, to be honest, lack thereof. America has never placed a ceiling on what one could accomplish with talent, a good work ethic, and determination. I still believe in that American dream despite the significant uphill climb required today.
Was it a perfect place? No. And it never will be perfect. We will not find Utopia this side of heaven. But as our cover story’s General Leon Collins told me during our visit, “If only every American could see for even five minutes exactly how the rest of the world lives, their whole perception of want and plenty would change radically.”
My children accuse me of listening to too much news talk. They are correct. I do tend to overdose on it, and then, at some point, I max out and tune out for days at a time. During one of my most recent “cold turkey” disconnects, the thought occurred to me that the world into which Jesus came had its political problems, too. God’s people were on the bottom rung of the social and political ladders of the day. Jesus could have changed it all in an instant, thrown out the oppressors, and put His people in power. But he did not. I think He was not so much concerned with their circumstances as He was with their hearts. And so it is for us also.
Sobering thought. At least it was for me that day. Jesus came to liberate our hearts, to fit us for the world beyond and to give every person the opportunity to know that His brand of freedom is greater than anything any government on earth can ever impart—or take away, for that matter.
His kind of freedom is increasingly risky. That does not mean that we stop praying for this country that past lovers of liberty have prayed fervently for and written prose, poetry, and lyrics like these: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator…” or “…And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.” Or these words from Thomas Jefferson, “Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.” Perfect people? No. But isn’t that the best thing about the gospel?
It was precisely because of man’s imperfection that Jesus Christ died on the cross. No small sacrifice and no small blessing.
Enjoy this our issue that celebrates God and our America. And when you sit back and celebrate the Fourth of July, thank God for liberty—especially the liberty Jesus Christ gives to all who accept Him.