The Cost

Author: Mike Sonneveldt

Our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, and now we celebrate with fireworks, grilling out and parades. Some understand the major event that this was, and plenty of others just know it's an excuse to drink and get a day or two off from work.


247 years ago, a group of leaders from the colonies signed a document that told the British Empire to pound sand. These men signed it as representatives of our newly formed nation (technically formed that day) and knew the costs of the decision they were making.


While we celebrate and wave flags, we don't necessarily think about that moment in that room, on a hot July day.


Benjamin Rush, one of the signers later wrote to John Adams, remembering that fateful day. He wrote in his letter to Adams, “Do you recollect your memorable speech upon the Day on which the Vote was taken? Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The Silence & the gloom of the morning were interrupted I well recollect only for a moment by Col: Harrison of Virginia who said to Mr Gerry at the table, “I shall have a great advantage over you Mr: Gerry when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.” This Speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the Solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.”


Often forgotten in the rush to claim America's freedom, the ringing bell of liberty, and such, is the truly sobering thought that these men knew they were signing their death warrant. And many of them paid the price for signing that document.


Some were captured, tortured and died. Others had their homes ransacked and burned. Many of them died from their wounds and difficulties from fighting in the war.


Afterwards, Adams said, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”


In other words, you better appreciate what they did, or else they'll regret sacrificing so much for it. They were truly declaring with their own names that they were to be in full rebellion of the motherland. They chose to put themselves at the front of the debate, and announced to the world that they would no longer be considered British, but American.


It takes a deep conviction in a man to die for a cause, and even more so to put his family in harm's way for belief he holds. Our founders held onto a powerful vision. One in which our lands would no longer put up with the oppressive forces of a tyrannical government. A government whose only answer to a grievance was more pressure and force.


The crown saw no reason to listen to the colonists. After all, they were subjects and were under the forceful pleasure of the crown and the British government. Just as Pharaoh hardened his heart against Moses and the Israelites, King George III hardened his heart against the colonists, going as far as refusing to even consider or respond to the olive branch petition sent by the colonists as a last ditch effort in shoring up the relationship.


Some people might cringe at any comparison to the people of Israel being freed by the Lord, but when we look at how prayerfully many of our founders were, the massive flood poured forth from the pulpits, and the amount of miracles that clustered around our nation's MIRACULOUS win against the most powerful force on earth—we can't help but look back and believe that perhaps God's hand and testimony was involved in the formation of our nation.


Our nation was not born out of the selfish, greedy conquest of a dictator, or the win of a warring tribe over a demolished foe. Our nation was born out of a yearning for liberty, and a recognition that no man should be placed under the oppressive boot of another man—whether he be king or servant.


They did not reject authority, but throughout the process became determined to try to respect authority. They pleaded with the British to uphold their constitution that supposedly protected the rights of all who lived under the British flag. Despite their pleading and attempts at legal redress, they were shut down over and over.


The crown doubled down in a fit of pride and rage. King George determined to crush them as insurrectionists. The British forces fired upon the people of America, in an event known as the Boston Massacre.


These were the first shots of the war, and became the bell announcing to the nation that the crown would kill it's own supposed subjects to require submission.


You may expect me to make direct comparisons to the situation we face today. I won't, because I don't need to. But as you may think over what we're dealing with today, I urge you to put yourself in the founder's shoes for a moment, and really ponder what it felt like to sign that document that day, under the type of government they had.


They stood on the precipice of self-sacrifice for an entire nation. They had no clue whether the plan would work or not. If they failed, they all would be killed or hanged as traitors. Their names would have become dust in the history of the British empire. Their families would have suffered horribly, and all of their sacrifice would have amounted to nothing. They knew, and probably were keenly aware, that anybody who joined them was also forfeiting their future by fighting alongside them.


The odds were stacked against them, and yet they still signed away their lives for an idea. The value of liberty overcame all of their personal goals, desires and loves. The possibility of their nation determining it's own course, and building on the framework of liberty was so powerful, that they willingly put their necks on the line.


When we celebrate Independence Day, we need to take a moment to really understand what we're celebrating. With solemn hearts, we should honor the memory of these men who set the course of world history with a beautiful conviction. We should remind ourselves that few, if any of us would have the courage to sign a document that declared war with the most powerful force on earth, and with true humility, put their lives and faith in the hands of the Lord.


Their courage, wisdom, intellect, passion and conviction are unrivaled, and we as the posterity who have received the fruit of their efforts, should be extremely grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless the work of their hands.


So take a few moments today to recognize that we don't just celebrate a new country being formed, or even rejoice over the signing of a significant document.

We celebrate truly mortal, imperfect men who stepped onto a pathway of immense risk, and were honored by the Lord to become greats across time.



Self-Evident Ministries


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