Keeping mindful of 'the big picture'

I love the Fourth of July. Not only do I enjoy picnics and fireworks, I enjoy the meaning behind the holiday. It makes me feel good to be an American, a country where I can be free to worship and express my opinion openly.

I am also proud because of my heritage. Sometime during the 1600s, my family left England and traveled across the "pond" to the shores of the New World. They braved the rigors of that world and took an active part in shaping our country.

Four of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence and sacrificed tremendously for doing so. My family is proud of that. During the Civil War one of my relatives was decorated for alerting the Northern army about nearby Confederate troops. We're proud of that too, even though we are a little embarrassed that our relative was trying to go AWOL at the time.

I think that my desire to write and share my opinion stems from that tradition. My dad would say that I "come by it honestly." He also said that my personality is such that I would probably have fought in the Revolution alongside my relatives. I believe he is right. I just hope that I would not have gone AWOL!

Consider this: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12: 1-3).

Keeping our eyes on "the big picture" rather than concentrating on the little things that cause temporary discomfort or angst is what helps us succeed in self-sacrifice. Jesus did it and so did our ancestors. Whenever we feel the pinch of sacrifice, we should keep our mind on our predecessors. That's what the Fourth of July is all about.