American Can-Do Spirit

“Washington Crossing the Delaware”

Growing up in Colorado, Memorial Day weekend was a time for barbecuing chicken, enjoying potato salad, and eating homemade peach ice cream. It was also a time to visit the graveside of my grandmother and other distant relatives. As a kid, it was a fun weekend that included great food and lots of family activity.

Memorial Day commemorates USA men and women who died while serving in military service. Through the years its original meaning, beyond parades or picnics, has lost its punch due in part to American disdain for the last few wars–from Viet Nam and after.

And I agree in part: we should hate war, but sometimes we are called to war. And I don’t believe there will be ultimate peace in this life or “peaceful” agreements until all peoples and nations acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Still it is so easy to criticize and take for granted the freedoms we enjoy and the price it cost… someone at sometime… 

My husband and I travel internationally extensively, and many of our trips are to third-world countries where freedoms are few and development, literacy, and education slim. It is on those trips, that I feel the deepest gratitude for my homeland and a broad sense of patriotism.

I will never forget our first trip to a Communist country. We traveled through Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary while they were still Eastern-Bloc countries. I kept asking myself why the people didn’t rise up  and rebel against the totalitarian government. They were so afraid and oppressed. Their spirits were broken.

We met with believers in Romania. They changed their home-church meetings weekly, so the KGB would not figure out that they were believers and were having secret meetings. They whispered their prayers and sermons, but their faith was full of fire. The laws of the land against religion did not stop them from worshipping or telling others about Christ. They shared the few Bibles they had, and they wrote God’s Word on their hearts in case their Bibles were confiscated! They longed for freedom to worship openly and without restraint.

They would have cut off their arms to enjoy what we have here in this country.

The one beautiful trait that we find consistently in those believers who grew up under the oppression of a totalitarian government is a white-hot faith that is willing to suffer, willing to stay true to God, no matter the consequences. Their faith and dedication to Christ challenges ours each time we see some of our friends in ex-Communist countries now.

Honestly after traveling and seeing the evils of the world, I don’t have much patience with my own countrymen who are always complaining about the government or who have attitudes of entitlement about freedom and liberty. I don’t have patience with American ex-patriots living abroad who bad mouth their supporting homeland… the roots from which they came and are sustained. I want to put them on a plane to Siberia to see the aftermath of Communism or Ethiopia or Sudan to see the results of unstable governments of confusion that bring unjust suffering. And our worst suffering in the states cannot be compared to how much of the world agonizes under oppression, chaos. and poverty today outside of the USA.

I am grateful for those who died to give us a land that is full of liberty and choice. And I believe they were led and enabled by the Spirit of God. No, we are not perfect and some of our influence in the world has been devastating; but we blessed beyond belief. We are so incredibly endowed with abundance and opportunity. Some people in this world have no idea what those two gifts are: abundance and opportunity.

Our spirits are not broken! No matter how much we may not like the current president or the war in Iraq or the “other” political party or some of the decisions that are made… still our spirits are not broken!

And I honor the American Spirit that is still resident within this land. It is that spirit of faith in something better and Someone bigger that moved our forebearers to seek freedom of religion in the first place. That spirit sent them on an adventure that turned into a dream. We are living the dreams of those men and women who never tasted freedom like we do today. American spirit does not understand the word, “no.” It presses on and finds a way and accomplishes impossible things.

Each country has a gift to offer the world… something that God endowed it with to reflect His nature and character. I believe one of our best gifts to the world is American “can-do” spirit. It is creative, innovative, undaunted, unflinching, unrelenting, entrepreneurial, and powerful.

And as we travel, my husband and I always find that spirit alive and bubbling up within us, urging others on to higher and better ground. I am not talking about teaching other nations to be like Americans or to do things the “American way;” I am talking about exemplifying a pioneering spirit that causes us to press on for answers and cures and means and ways and never give up… to find creative solutions… to grow and learn… and when we may lose a battle then to concede with grace and honor and humility.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, I am grateful for all those who bought our freedom. I am grateful for what that freedom means and has instilled in me. And I am eager and generous to share our gift with other peoples and nations.

I for one am proud to see a USA soldier standing next to a tank in Iraq, knowing there is a season to war and a season to come to peace. I believe a little sprinkling of “American can-do spirit” throughout the world is a savory thing.


9 thoughts on “American Can-Do Spirit

  1. Bonnie,
    I so enjoyed hearing such an uplifting, positive message about our incredibly blessed country. Great insight to get our attitudes lined up with gratitude. You’re a true inspiration.
    Miss you!
    Lisa

  2. Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for your encouragement and kind words. We are incredibly blessed in this country!

    Great to hear from you,
    Bonnie

  3. Yes indeed Bonnie,

    We are so greatly blessed as a nation with godly heritage and a Kingdom purpose. It’s a privilege and a responsibility we each carry. I’m reminded of the great revivalists of the 1740’s who, filled with the Holy Spirit, forged the foundation of this new country in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of His Cross and who doffed certain oppressions of former lands. They would have it no other way but to be One Nation Under God. They were the first Patriots of this nation, the first of many to give their lives for a greater cause. Sacrifice is indeed in the DNA of our country.

    Love you Bonnie!

    Scott

  4. A hearty amen! Living in Europe I am bombarded with the “can’t do” spirit. But I won’t dwell on that. The thing that surprises weekly is the way the women in my French class (from all over Europe) are so insulted by the “American way”. No matter what our conversation topic: marriage, the environment, education and obviously politics, they find our positive attitude to be distasteful. Every time, I am taken back anew with how the enemy blinds the eyes of those without Christ. So much so, that not only do they not have hope, they disdain it. Even in my French Bible study of James, conversations about trials are void of the joy that the Word promises will come out of them.
    I am blessed to have grown up in America and my prayer daily is that I do not fall victim to the negativism that encircles me. I agree with you that Americans should be grateful and appreciative of the freedom and love for life that we have known.
    I am reminded of that old Janis Joplin song, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone”. We have such much in America to thank God for.

  5. Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie,
    I’m sitting here with a lump in my throat as I read this and of all things, listening to KAAM (770) and hearing “America the Beautiful” sung as only Ray Charles can sing it. Thank God for this country, and yes, I’ve said for years that anyone who badmouths this wonderful land should have experienced what we did as we traveled to Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, etc. before the fall of Communisim. Words are not adequate to express my gratitude for what we have in this country and for you as you so wonderfully express thoughts for us all. Thanks, Syble

  6. So well said, Bonnie. As an immigrant myself, I think of what my life, liberty, and freedom might have been if my parents had not come to America. I have sat through the national anthem many a time with a lump in my throat thinking about how proud and blessed I am to live here. As a Christian to be able to worship in freedom from fear is such a privilege! I am so grateful to God for His blessings!

  7. Well, Bonnie…What can I say….Once again you have out done yourself with your giftings in writing.

    Since I have been working for 13 years now for Tarrant County Veteran Services and serving veterans and their dependents I see all phases of life for these wartime veterans and I must say the most humbled are those from WWII. War changes a person forever….such a sacrifice on everyone’s part, including family members. For the most part, from the veteans I have seen and interviewed, only God has made the real difference in their lives. They have handled the awful things they have seen and gone through and have been able to somewhat get on the other side of the pain because of HIM. Those will tell you point blank, “If you don’t love it, leave it!” They have no tollerance for bad mouthing what they made such sacrifices and will put you in your place. Over 60 ears now and I still see grown men cry like babies tears from what they have witnessed. Thank you for commending them and defending our country.

    Hugs,
    Diana

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