Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV
Beginning with memories of Christmas morns as a five-year-old, I have loved waking with the first ray of sunlight and rushing out to see what the day has in store. One of the most repeated phrases I can recall mom saying was, “Go back to bed Peter, it’s not even six o-clock!” I love sunrises, quiet morning walks and having breakfast while everyone else is still asleep. But what is true in the physical world doesn’t always translate into the spiritual one. In my Christian life, a comfortable resting place, where everything is familiar, sweet and nice, seems a wonderful spot to catch a few spiritual zzz’s. The problem with snoozing in our comfort zones; however, is that walking with Jesus is a matter of following in His footsteps, not sleep walking in our dreams. As this July 4th weekend kicks off, I am reminded that in 1814, our nation’s independence hung in the balance. During a furious battle on September 13th of that year, those in Fort McHenry could not sleep. The powerful guns of the British bombarded the fort all through the night, yet the defenders stood their ground. As Francis Scott Key watched the battle through the bars of his prison cell he prayed for those brave men and for the future of our nation. Then, “By the dawn’s early light.” he saw the American flag still waving and knew that God had answered his prayers. As that new morning began, he wrote a poem that was to become our national anthem. This morning the United States is arguably the most powerful nation on earth. No foreign cannons are firing on our harbor defenses, nor are soldiers lurking on ships, ready to storm ashore and seize control of our cities. But an enemy more powerful than the British empire of old, or the Russian army of today, is attacking every treasured tradition, innocent pastime or loving relationship. Satan is hard at work to cast His dark shadow over our communities, our churches and our homes. Though we are shocked daily by the ever-bolder assaults on spiritual lives, God is not surprised. He isn’t pulling out His hair as He sits helplessly on His throne. He isn’t thinking of throwing down the scepter of the universe and walking away from our battle. Instead, He is reminding us that He is still leading the way, and in Him, is a victory far greater than the one for Fort McHenry. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World that will never be put out and the Rock of Ages that cannot be shaken. “By the dawn’s early light.” He guarantees that if we put our faith in Him, He will give us an eternal victory and a true freedom that can never be taken away!
O say can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight O're the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O're the land of the free and the home of the brave? I hope you like Natalie Grant's rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner which she performed at the 2022 National Championship game. It's one of my favorites!