Above photos: Fireworks in Allendale, SC
…And a happy 5-days-after-fourth-of-July to you too! I spent the past week in Allendale, SC. If you don’t go to Grace, then you probably haven’t heard of Allendale. What was I doing in this small town, you might ask? Well, I was chillin’ with 60 of my closest middle school friends! duh.
While in Allendale, I had the privilege of attending one of the local churches. Now I grew up a good ol’ southern baptist girl so I’ve sung God Bless America, Navy drinking songs (though I don’t think many people knew they were old drinking songs because we all know those Southern Baptists do not approve of the fermented fruit of the vine!), and celebrated the fourth of July in patriotic style at church. It never really bothered me too much until this year; perhaps because I haven’t thought about it. This year, however, I was increasingly disturbed by the lack of God-focus and overt America-focus in church.
Now, before I continue, I’ll confess that although I enjoy living in America and I recognize that I have been incredibly blessed to experience the freedoms that I do; however, I do not think that America is the greatest nation on earth. In fact, sometimes I think that America is a huge distraction. I’m learning that authority and limitations are a good thing. The more freedom that I have, the more opportunities for me to elevate something, even a good thing, into a god-thing.
Obedience has not often been a pleasant tasting word in my mouth. In fact, though I am the oldest child, I have a much greater propensity for breaking the rules and crossing the line than my younger sister. I did not understand that in wanting unlimited freedom I wanted to be god. Rules and authority are not good because they are ensuring my best interest is at hand, but because they are a reminder that I am not my own. I am not even capable of depending on myself. In fact, I even let myself down. A lot. Talk about depressing.
No, what is really surprising is that with rules and authority come freedom. I am free to thrive because I don’t have to be, do, or strive to accomplish everything. I can fail, epically, and it is OK because I’m not god. The world is not resting on my shoulders. The problems of this world are not mine to fix. Nor can I. The suffocating feeling of being overwhelmed is a not-so-subtle reminder that the world is not mine to fix. Poverty, economic depression, sexuality, you name it, are all going to be perfect one day. Now, the really cool thing and exciting thing is that I get to be a part of it all, within boundaries and under authority – both human and divine. I actually get to be a tiny splinter of a miniscule cog in the whole process. And I’m ecstatic about that!
I guess what I am saying is that my hope is not in me. It is not in my generation or getting back to the good old days. America and democracy are not the answers. Thank goodness. Slavery, abortion, homosexuality, any hot button issue are not the problem – a lack and distortion of worship is. This year, as we reminisce on the fireworks, food, and those who have given their lives to bring us freedom; let’s also remember the future to come – a future under supreme authority, but with perfect freedom.