Thursday, July 4, 2013


 At five o'clock every afternoon, when the trumpet sounds for retreat,  no one has to announce for the children to stop laughing and splashing or for the men and women who wear the title "our bravest, our finest" to stop swimming laps. No one has to tell the mommas under the umbrellas to stop chatting and no one has to remind the rest of us, in our own little moments of memory-making, to stand and face the flag.

The air is silenced. The water stilled. 

It becomes a sacred moment.

And I never get tired of that moment. 

When we stop to remember who we are. The moment when we are not Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. When we are not for or against. 

The moment when we are one, under the flag that God has blessed us to live under.

When the flag is being lowered and the national anthem is being played, sometimes I pray for the safety of the bravest and finest that surround me. Sometimes I pray for those that are thousands of miles away, separated from their families, and for the peace that will bring them home. I've prayed for our country, that the hate would end and that grace and gratitude would shape our political conversations. And many, many times I remember my daddy, how he served his country in WWII and how he was willing to lay down his life for it. 

The other day, standing on the pool deck with my hand over my heart, I once again watched the flag being lowered while I quietly sang the words to our song. I thought about how the man that wrote our national anthem wrote it in the middle of a battle.

 I thought about how I know what it's like to be in a battle.

I know what it's like to sit in the darkness and wait.

I know the fear that comes, with what feels like rockets and bombs falling around me.

I know what it's like to wait for seasons of night to be over. For the morning to come with joy.

I know what it's like to become battle weary.

I know what it's like to feel defeated, to feel like there's no way out. And, only by the grace of God, to still hold on to the hope of victory.

Francis Scott Key, aboard the ship the HMS Minden, watched what seemed to be the destruction and  loss of Fort McHenry. The British Royal Navy was much stronger and all signs pointed to defeat. But in the long darkness, the rockets and bombs lit up the sky to show our flag was still there.  

This light was the only thing needed to show victory was still at hand.

How I thank God that to Him, there is no difference between darkness and light.

How I thank God that over and over again, He shines His Light into my darkness to show me the victory that He has already won for me.

There is nothing too difficult for Him.

There is no darkness that His Light can't outshine.

There is no battle that He won't fight for me.

When I find myself in the middle of another fight, I need to remember to look expectantly into the darkness. And just like Francis Scott Key who saw our flag waving in the darkness under the lights from the rockets and bombs, I'll see that my God is there.

I'll see that He has always been there.

His light is the only thing I need to see the victory is at hand.

And although I haven't written a song about God, it sure makes me want to sing one to Him.

". . . To you the night shines as bright as day. 
Darkness and light are the same to you."
Psalm 139: 12

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