Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old Glory

My thoughts on this holiday for the red white and blue lean toward those who have gone before us, those who are securing freedom for now and what waving this piece of colored cloth really means to each one of us individually. The flag is referred to as Old Glory. Why is that? I don't know many who know the story of a brave Captain William Driver who was given the flag to fly on one of his many voyages. As the flag unfolded in the sea breeze he exclaimed,"Old Glory". The phrase became that particular flags' nickname. He retired in Nashville and when it seceded from the union rebel soldiers searched high and low for the famous 24 star flag to destroy it. They could not find it. Later when union soldiers captured Nashville and raised an American flag many asked the Captain if the flag still existed. Happy to have soldiers by his side he began to rip open his bedcover at the seams revealing the signs of Old Glory in between the top and the batting. Sixty years in hiding the flag was enthusiastically flown over the capital with the Captain's embroidered anchor that graced the corner. Later the flag would be willed to his neice/granddaughter who would later give it to the Smithsonian. It is one of the most illustrious and noted flags.
I recently asked my son in law, Kyle a US Marine, 10 questions mostly about respect for the flag, apathy about honoring our flag and what bothers him when people don't respect the flag. He gave me really great answers, but the one answer when I asked, "What do you think the glory of our flag represents?". His simple answer said it all. Freedom. I was so taken back by the simplicity of this answer for its honesty and truth it made me think about the freedom God's glory brings.
Our flags glory is the freedom it represents, the freedom those who have braved life and death for us, the freedom of risks taken to save others, the freedom of pledging allegiance to that glory for liberty and justice for all. Do we consider what the glory means? Kyle said most Marines aren't Marines for the reasons everyone thinks or likes to think. There may have been some patriotic sentiment behind us joining, but when it comes down to it, "most of us love the lifestyle and just being able to call yourself a Marine". He said he felt differently about the flag when he was 18 when he joined and now in that now he has seen some of his buddies draped in the flag. "That tends to make things more poignant". There are many regulations that go along with displaying the flag, folding the flag and hanging the flag. The one reg. I learned that I did not realize is this, if the flag is displayed 24/7 then it should be illuminated during hours of darkness. I always see these giant flags lit up at night, so now I know. He feels that most of the disrespect done to the flag is out of ignorance. I asked him if he thought young adults understand the significance and importance of patriotism. He thought that was too general of a question. He said there are great patriots in every generation. He just thinks the percentages are getting smaller. Good answer.
His answers were honest, straight forward and true. He is always to the point with most things he does. A no nonsense kind of guy. I really love that about him. His answer about freedom really hit home for me when I think about the glory of God. What is the glory of God? Can we see God's glory? No, not in the way we can see the flag. Just like we can not see the glory related to the flag, even though we know its there. We see the glory when we know the attributes of the flag. God's glory is not a material glory that can crown man, but more of a glory that fills the earth. It is the beauty of His Spirit emulating from His character from all that He is. It is seen within man and in the earth, but it is not of them, it is of God. It's not something we can manifest within ourselves or even things we do it is God given. The glory of man is the beauty of man's spirit which is imperfect and eventually passes away, but the glory of God, manifested in all His attributes, together never passes away. It is eternal. Hallelujah. Ps. 19:1-4 says,"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is not speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. Their words to the end of the world". There is a song whose words say, "Ascribe to the Lord of sons of the Mighty, ascribe to the Lord, glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory that's due Him, worship the Lord in reverence and strength. The heavens declare the glory of God and declare his handiwork (straight from this verse). The nations shout and the rocks cry out to redeem the God of the earth". Are we worshipping in reverence and strength His glory, His attributes? This word ascribe means assign to, lay at the door of ( this is my favorite), connect with, associate with. Are we ascribing to our Lord with all our strength?
What are His attributes? Trying to explain what His attributes are like and not like without using the Bible would be no better than someone's opinion. We have to search His Word to understand the essence of His character. In Job and Exodus God explains how important it is to understand God. Only what God Himself has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known. I am so thankful many times that God only reveals certain things when He knows I can receive them, understand them better and apply them to my life. Just as His word says to be careful not to throw pearls to swine, I think He is careful when He reveals Himself to us as He knows when we are ready to receive Him. Light, Knowledge, Creator are just three attributes I consider when I think of God's character. Reading through some of the names of God also reflects His character such as:
Eloheim: strength
Adonai: Lord-Master
El Elyon: Most High the strongest One
El Roi: the strong One who sees
El Shaddai: Almighty God
El Olam: Everlasting God
Yahweh: Lord the "I Am" meaning eternal self existent God
He is eternal, amen! Infinite, immortal, trustworthy, reliable, unchanging, incomparable, unequaled, perfect, unfathomable,unsearchable and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely. No respecter of persons, no favorites, omnipotent, all powerful and can do anything He pleases yet it will always be in keeping with His other character. Righteous, sovereign, supreme, Trinity 3 in 1, Holy, separated from mortal defilement, gracious including all fruits of His spirit. If it were not for His grace, His holiness would exclude us from His presence. Through His Word we understand a great deal about who God is and what He is like. I pray I will wholeheartedly seek Him, His character, His attributes and His Glory. I have to stop trying to put mortal, human like characters on Him when clearly He is so far above all those. This idea of His glory that we also relate to our flag has everything to do with His freedom He brings to our lives when we embrace His glory, His character, His attributes. His glory and the character of God gives us the freedom to live as from sin. When we rely and call on the character of God to infiltrate our own more and more His glory will shine in our lives. We can't trust in earthy things, earthly relationships or our own powers, talents, beauty or the goodness we see in others as our source. They will fade and are only temporary carriers of the greater Glory. His glory is constant. As I journey here and there I see it manifest in this person, in that forest, in a story of love or heroism fiction and non and in my own personal life. But, it all goes back to God in the end. The only way to God is through His son Jesus Christ. We will find the very source of all beauty in Him, in heaven when we are in Christ and Christ in us. All things that fade in life will be found again in Him. So when I struggle within myself I have His glory as my example. I set my sights, anchor my sail and raise His banner high as Old Glory takes on new meaning.

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