This week, we will take time to celebrate the freedom we enjoy as a nation. We will eat too much food, watch fireworks, maybe attend a parade, and will thank God that we live in a country founded by men and women brave enough to win that freedom over 200 years ago.
But the longer I reflect on the freedom we enjoy, the more amazed I become with the actual date of Independence Day.
As we all know, on July 4, 1776, the second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, claiming legal separation from the British crown. The Brits, however, didn’t quite see it that way, and so the formal beginning of the American Revolution was born.
What I had forgotten from my school days was how much time passed between the day we declared independence and the day we actually secured it.
While the Revolution began informally in early 1775, it didn’t end until the final treaties were ratified in November of 1783. That makes the American Revolution a longer war than WWI, WWII, the Civil War, the Korean War, and the conflict in Vietnam. During that period of nearly a decade, Americans (who the British considered still Brits) wrote songs about their new nation that hadn’t yet won the war. They stitched national flags for a country that didn’t yet exist. And they fought for a freedom they had declared but had not yet experienced. There’s a key lesson from that decade of struggle:
There was a long time between declaring independence and securing freedom.
And that’s the way it often is in the spiritual world.
Freedom has to be declared before it can be secured.
The pattern is clear: God longs for and uses people who will declare their victory long before they see it come to pass.
Think back to the Israelites, who marched around Jericho long before the walls fell. Remember Noah, who built an Ark while the sun was still shining. Remember the prophet Isaiah, who said a Virgin would bring forth a child, our Redeemer, 600 years before it happened. And remember Jesus saying that he would rise again once he was killed.
Now think through your life. What victory should you be claiming, even though you haven’t seen it yet? What independence from a bad habit can you declare today? It may take years of fighting and hard work, but if you will consistently name your freedom, and believe in the freedom that has already been won at the Cross and Empty Tomb, you’ll discover a life that’s greater than you can possibly imagine.
Declare your freedom before it has come to pass. It’s the American thing to do. And it’s the spiritual key to tapping into the power God has in store for your life.
Happy Independence Day!