July 4, 2014 - America the Beautiful
By Scott Harrup
With today being the Fourth of July, I'm sitting here thinking about the many blessings I enjoy in our great nation.
A few random observations:
1. Our family regularly travels hundreds of miles to visit grandparents and in-laws and cousins. Barring flat tires, mechanical failure, or other unforeseen setbacks, we'll drive unimpeded on several interstates crossing Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. We never need passports or have to tell any law enforcement personnel the reason for our trip.
Growing up in West Africa, I sat in the car at countless checkpoints manned by village police with automatic weapons. We couldn't go more than 10 or 15 miles in some areas without stopping at a barrier across the road. We might be waved through quickly, or we might have to wait while our luggage was searched and we were randomly delayed. As for the roads themselves? Many were deeply rutted dirt surfaces that could become almost impassable during the rainy season.
2. On my way home from work, I'll often stop to pick up odds and ends at the grocery store for my wife, Jodie. I've traveled overseas and walked into many shops where food was scarce and expensive. No matter how long I live in the States, I think I'll still be amazed at the wall-to-wall food available in stores at mostly reasonable prices.
3. We've had our share of family medical crises. What a blessing to live within minutes of world-class doctors and hospitals. For that matter, our family enjoys good health on the "normal" days in large part because we have access to clean drinking water, sanitarily packaged food, and live in a community where sewage is completely contained. Much of the world can only dream of such everyday blessings.
4. If our home started to burn, a fully equipped fire station is only blocks away. If we called 911 because something went bump in the night, we'd probably have a sheriff's deputy at our door within minutes. And when I see a police car drive by, I never have to react in fear. The great majority of American law enforcement officers are committed to "protect and serve" their fellow citizens, not threaten or extort them.
5. Most important of all, I can choose to attend, or not to attend, any house of worship among the literal hundreds across this community. America's freedom of religion, despite the claim by many enemies of faith, really does give complete choice to worship God or not to do so.
Even those who deny God's existence have no fear of retaliation from religious communities. No one is coerced into following a particular creed or inhumanely punished for violating some religion's dictates. By some estimates, however, more people around the world today are dying for their faith or dying over differences in beliefs than the famed martyrs of centuries past.
Within this nation's environment of complete intellectual freedom, I continue to see new evidences of God's presence and blessing. I then have complete freedom to tell you about my faith on this blog. You have complete freedom to say "amen" or "you're nuts" or just ignore me.
Of course, I'll hope for that "amen."
— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).
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