Looking back 237 years gives us a unique perspective on the actions of our forefathers. A century and a half ago, our nation's president reflected that they had "brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." He obviously saw their decision to declare their independence from a throne that cared little for anything but the wealth of this new land as an act of supreme boldness and courage. The founding fathers themselves, however, weren't trying to be bold nor courageous; they were simply responding the best way they knew how to the tyranny of their age.
Some years ago, I got a taste of making a decision that was later described as bold and courageous. Our church had left our long-time home with plans to relocate. For a time we were meeting in rented facilities, moving in and out every weekend. About a year into our pilgrimage, a large contingent of our people left. We were suddenly without their service and their financial support. We had to decide whether we would go ahead and purchase the property we had already found. Before the exodus, it seemed a simple decision. Afterward, it was full of question marks. I remember thinking, "Are we nuts? Are we buying property we can't afford?" We prayed it through and decided to go ahead with the purchase. It may have seemed bold later, but it was downright scary at the time.
As our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to fight for the independence of this New World from England, they were full of questions and doubt. But they forged ahead, confident that God would be with them during their struggle. The prize was worth the price. You and I enjoy great liberty today because of them.
The next time you feel backed into a corner and have to take a big risk, ask a few questions to clarify your decision:
- Have we prayed about it?
- Is moving forward consistent with our vision and our values as an organization (or as a family)?
- What will we gain if we take the risk and succeed?
- What will we lose if we take the risk and fail?
I'm so glad our founders took the risk. Happy 237th Birthday, America!