Full disclosure: I rarely use patriotic themes in my Bible art. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my focus is more on Bible times and Bible places. Maybe it’s because society has trained me to keep a strict separation between church and state. I almost feel like patriotism doesn’t belong in my Bible. Isn’t that strange? I never really took notice of these thoughts until I was inspired by the final verse of “My Country ’tis of Thee” when we sang it on Sunday morning. My husband prayed and spoke of the great sacrifices of our service men and woman as well as their families. As he thanked God for them he turned His thoughts toward the cross and the greatest sacrifice of all, Jesus Christ. He praised God for exemplifying sacrifice and for teaching us its immeasurable value. Through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, God has shown that He truly is the “Author of liberty, for “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Freedom is not free. It requires sacrifice. Today I had the pleasure of snuggling my cat, Lucy, and spending time with my family. I got to do some Bible Journaling and watch a movie in bed with my hubby. But, this was not the case for so many families. Many, more than we realize, will go to visit their fallen sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers in a grave yard. They will hug headstones, lay flowers, cry, and pray there. Children will bring toys. Mothers will set infants down on blankets atop their fallen fathers just to feel close again. Fathers will cry openly in front of motherless children. It is a community of courage, grace, and honor. We should all feel humbled by its very existence. This is the inner circle of Christ, those who are drawn closer to Him through their sacrifice. They may not even realize that they are in the company of the greatest Love ever known. He is calling to each of them, and to us, to cast our cares upon Him, to learn of Him, and to put our faith in Him. As we pray for their comfort let us also pray that God would reveal Himself to them through the power of His Holy Spirit.
This is our ministry. This is our call as Christians. We, too, are called to sacrifice. Maybe not our lives, but we are called to sacrifice our wills. Our compassion for the hurting and lost of this world should compel us to be crucified with Christ daily. We should crawl upon the altar to die to self so that Christ can live in us, and in so doing call all of mankind to Himself in love. Perhaps we are too busy to answer that call. Maybe we are too selfish. I know I am. That is why I need His help. Isaiah says in Chapter 62 of His book, verse 1, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” Isaiah knew that God longed to be reconciled to His people, and he remained determined to preach this message in the hopes that they would return to God. Paul reminds us that we Christians have been given the same ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5), as if God we’re pleading with the world through us! We stand as statues of liberty, monuments to His great sacrifice, and our lives are to be beacons of hope and love drawing people back to God.
Isaiah also loved his nation. He desperately wanted to see His countrymen return to their God. I believe this is a sentiment that we can identify with, right? We need to be praying for our country. Not because it’s better than other countries, but because it has a unique vision for its citizens: that they are each entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Countless men and women have given their lives to protect our freedom, and to promote the course of freedom in other parts of the world. As we pray for them, we must also pray that God would protect all that they have achieved through their sacrifice.
After mulling all of this over, I decided that there may be no better place for patriotism than in my Bible. I love my God. I love this land. I love her people. My prayer is that we will all spend time meditating upon these great sacrifices and praying for our servicemen and women and their families as we honor them with a special place in our Bibles.
God bless you all, and God bless America.
To celebrate our heroes, here is a free download of my Statue of Liberty color page. I hope you enjoy!