Fireworks this July 4th were different. The sound was the same, the colors were the same, the smell was the same, I am different.
In years past, I would hear the song "I'm Proud to be an American" and feel my chest swell with pride and gratitude. This year pride as an American was not at the forefront of my emotions. The overwhelming thought that ran across my mind that night was "Why me?"
Having recently returned from the Dominican Republic, and having met many brothers and sisters in Christ, I realized anew that I contributed nothing to my being born as a citizen of the United States of America. Only by the grace and will of God am I here, at this time, in this place.
Americans enjoy many privileges because of our place of birth. We also suffer some of the drawbacks of that same status. Of all the physical things in life, we enjoy the best. Of many of the spiritual aspects of life, we are poverty stricken. We have traded our spiritual life for an extravagant physical existence - a very poor choice on our part.
Our once strong spiritual vitality has been sapped dry for the most part in America. Yes, there are pockets of spiritual life here, but not like it is in other parts of the world where God has the hearts and minds and entire lives of His followers. He is working in other lands, with other peoples in ways that we will not allow Him to work in the States with us. For that, my emotion is not one of pride, but one of loss.
Am I blessed that God chose to give me life in the United States of America in the late 1900's / early 2000's? Yes I am. Did I have anything to do with that choice? No.
I'm not sure fireworks will ever mean the same to me again - at least I hope they won't.