This week we mark the 242nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. From every waterslide, let freedom ring! In addition to water sports, we will be celebrating fireworks, hot dogs, ice cream, BBQ, patriotic politicians and red-white-and-blue. And in the midst of all of this celebration, it is easy to forget to remember what it is all about.
The children of Israel could certainly identify! God repeatedly reminded them to remember what He had done for them (Dt. 5:15, 7:18, 8:2, 9:7, 15:15, 24:18 among many others). Deuteronomy 8:18-19 is particularly relevant to us as American Christians: “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, … And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”
And yet, the book of Judges is full of the refrain, “And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of their enemies on every side.”
One way to describe the mission of Wilson Hill Academy might be that we are committed to helping students learn how to remember. We do that with our series of classes, “A Closer Look at US History,” in which we look carefully at the trajectory of ideas that led up to that famous declaration, and at the events that followed. Students learn to understand concepts like “freedom” and “independence” and “democracy” (and even “responsibility”) in deeper ways – ways that often conflict with the prevailing spirit of our age. This “remembering” makes all of the celebration more authentic.
But this focus on “remembering” is not limited to history class. As we study science, we remember that God has made all things, and that the whole world proclaims the glory of God (even in its fallen state). As we study art or literature, we remember that the stories we read and the beauty depicted are reflections (sometimes distorted) of God’s creativity. As we study mathematics, we remember that the transcendent truths of mathematics point to the transcendent God, who embodies truth, beauty and goodness. As we enter into The Great Conversation, we are continually reminded to consider arguments in light of Biblical revelation.
In doing all of this, we hope and pray that WHA students will learn to remember … not only the passing things of this world that are worth celebrating (like the 4th of July!), but also the eternal things that bring real and lasting freedom. We pray that they would remember all that God has done for them as they take up their individual callings, whatever they happen to be. And we pray that they (and we) will one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” having lived a life of remembering.
So as we celebrate this week, let us do so with joy and gladness, but let us also avoid making idols out of the BBQ or the fireworks or the patriotism. Let us genuinely thank God as we enjoy the blessings of freedom that come from Him … both in this life and the life to come.