July 4

“For the Vision is yet for an appointed time…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love. Nay, lift up your head, and begin to praise Him even now for the deliverance which is on the way to you, and you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay which has tried your faith. (Streams in the Desert)

I could rattle off regrets until the chickens come home to roost, but I will share only one of them today. The one most on my mind on the 4th of July is that I never served my country. I passed on a golden opportunity to attend West Point after high school graduation, opting for college and a fast track into vocational Christian ministry. Time in the pastorate and years invested in Africa and India as a missionary precluded the opportunity for military service of any kind. When life finally became conducive to part-time service, I inquired about entering the National Guard as a chaplain, but was denied because of my age. I will live and eventually die without having known the honor of serving this great entity known as the United States of America.

My father saw active duty in the Korean Conflict, and I proudly display his military items and the American flag presented to my mother at Dad’s funeral. I am humbled by his and every person’s sacrifice to defend the liberty I enjoy. We live in an era where many decry mixing nationalism with Christianity. I understand their philosophy—I am not a Christian because I am an American citizen; however, I thank God this country was founded on the bedrock of Judeo-Christian values, and refuse to recognize an inherent conflict between patriotism and my faith in Almighty God. Separation of church and state does not mandate an entirely secular state. I may be unable to don a military uniform, but I am able everyday to honor those who do, to pray for the leaders of this nation (whoever they may be at the time), and faithfully fulfill my responsibility as a citizen of both God’s kingdom and this country, without seeing the two as mutually exclusive.

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