I’m thankful for Memorial Day. First, I’m thankful for the unspeakably precious sacrifices men and women have made for our freedom. Second, I’m thankful that we have set aside a day to honor and commemorate these sacrifices. We so easily forget what is truly important in life—especially that which others have given us.
The history of the nation of Israel through the time of judges reveals that it’s not just Americans who have a foggy memory. Time and again, Israel forgot her God. Israel’s history is rich with miracles of God’s deliverance—and it’s replete with the miseries of her national spiritual forgetfulness. Judges 8:34 records, “And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side.”
Israel’s history should serve as a memorial to us of what happens when nations forget God—their forgetfulness stages their national downfall.
Our American history, too, is rich in leaders who knew the Lord and whose heart’s desire was to establish and maintain a nation in which the Gospel of Christ could be freely propagated. They recognized that at the heart of the need for freedom is a need for every person to have the liberty to know and worship God. Many of these leaders sealed their desire for this sort of freedom with their blood, sweat, and tears as they served in military capacities.
Ronald Reagan said of George Washington, “The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.”
May we as Americans never forget the true heroes of our country. American children know the names of sports and entertainment stars, but they know little of those who have bled, died, and suffered for our freedom. Our values have become so warped that we memorialize the insignificant heroes in place of the true heroes.
May we never forget the God who has “made and preserved us a nation.” Even as Israel repeatedly forgot the God who created her nation, preserved her heritage, and delivered her from invaders, I’m concerned that our nation is forgetting God as well—systematically removing the name of Christ from public sectors.
So how can we preserve our freedoms? Here are four ways to remember our God:
1. We Must Teach Our Children the Greatness of God
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” If we do not teach our children the greatness of God at home and at church, they will not learn it through the media or society at large.
2. We Must Memorialize the Miracles of God
Memorials designate honor and importance. For instance, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC honors the sacrifices of those who have given their lives for our freedom. It tells succeeding generations that this is important to us. The names etched into the stone walls make you proud to be an American. Even so, we need to memorialize the things God has done for us. In years to come, I want my grandchildren see what God has done in and through my life and say “My grandpa served a great God! I want God to do the same for me.”
3. We Must Follow the Word of God
Our natural tendency is to live according to the dictates of our own wills. Yet God has given us clear commands in His Word that should govern and shape our lives, and He has given us principles that should direct our choices. Especially in the selection of government officials, we must remember to vote according to biblical principle if we want our nation to remember God.
4. We Must Keep Our Vows to God
Ecclesiastes 5:4 emphasizes the importance of our vows to God: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.” If every Christian American fulfilled the vows they have already made to God, we’d have revival. We prove that our God is important to us when we remember and keep the promises we have made to Him.
As Christians, and as Americans, may we never forget our God. May we lift up the name of Christ and continually remember our God—on Memorial Day and every day.