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Independence Day


Against the wind

July 4, 2024

“For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; I was naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.”

As a kid, I grew up fishing and sailing on Lake Pontchartrain. I learned to respect the weather. One summer afternoon as I was standing near the Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the harbor, a vicious summer squall came roaring in. As I sat in the safety of the car, I watched a sailboat fight for survival. It was making a run to the safety of the harbor when the storm hit. It sat floundering in the high waves and brutal cross winds just at the entrance of the jetty that protected the harbor entrance. A few more feet and it would have found smooth water. Unfortunately, it was on the wrong side of the entrance.

Sometimes, life feels like it is lived against the wind. You take one step forward and four steps backward. The winds of life that swirl around you is against you, pushing you back. It takes so much energy just to stay where you are and not lose ground. Sometimes life is lived against the wind. Where do we find hope?

 Matthew 25 reminds us that no one should ever stand alone. It is our calling to be the people who find the strength, faith and courage to continue to fight another day. We are not called to stand by and watch as others get pushed by the winds of life; when the winds begin to push, we must help others push back. One person standing alone doesn’t always have the strength to fight back. Like the boat at the entrance of the harbor, without hope lives can sink if people are left to stand alone. But many people working together, pooling their physical, emotional, financial and spiritual resources, have the collective power to resist, stand firm, stand together and then push back against the swirling winds of life.

The Fourth of July serves as an annual reminder of a time when standing together provided hope in challenging times. Our nation’s road to independence was long and not without significant cost. There were times when many wondered if the winds of victory were on the horizon as the war raged throughout the colonies. But by standing together, the tide turned and the winds that initially pushed against us propelled the nation to its independence, and our country took its place in the world.

On July 4, take time to give thanks to those who have walked with others when life’s winds pushed and pulled and for the support they offered along the way. Celebrate our nation’s independence and freedom with a prayerful spirit of thankfulness for those whose vision helped others see and gain a better future.

Rev. Dennis Hysom is a retired Army Chaplain and now serves as the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies. For more information on chaplaincy in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Affairs or the military, go to

Today’s Focus: Independence Day

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Elizabeth Little, Church Consultant, Charlotte, NC, Board of Pensions  
David Loleng,  Vice President, Church Financial Literacy & Leadership and Stewardship Education, Presbyterian Foundation 

Let us pray

Lord, as our Savior loved us enough to sacrifice his life for us, may we love others enough to sacrifice for them. We lift to you our Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and military chaplains serving far and abroad, asking you to guide them in their daily giving for you. Amen.

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