July 4th Prayer to Ponder

flag for a July 4th prayer

A July 4th Prayer –

Imagine that someone formed the land—
because He did.
Then He planted it specially for you—
because He did.
And the land was full of so much to see and discover:
splashing brooks, fields, ravines, vistas filled with fruit trees,
forested majesty, and dainty blooming herbs for bees.

And He lived there, too;
and He placed you

to be there with Him.

And His song goes like this:

click to listen to This Land is Your Land performed by Sam Hunt, words and music written by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking
that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me
that endless skyway:
I saw below me
that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled
and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands
of her diamond deserts;
And all around me
a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie, ©1956-1972 Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. & TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

click here for Woody Guthrie’s full lyrics

Woody Guthrie wrote these words in 1956, and while I do not pretend to understand his faith, through his work I have embraced more of mine, hallelujah! I do not see that Guthrie particularly sought the Lord in penning this song, nevertheless the Lord can direct hearts and call to us through anything, whether we realize it or not. The beloved songwriter did not sing “your land and my land” from the perspective of Yeshua speaking to us, yet what a spiritual summons if we hear it that way.

Guthrie’s words are precisely patterned like the Word of God. The chorus echoes the communion we have with Him and our relationship’s establishment in the land, from its beginning in the garden—

So the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, breathed life into his lungs, and the man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, where he placed the man whom he had formed.
Genesis 2:7-8 ISV

—to its continued romance revealing God’s dwelling and sanctuary in our midst. Guthrie’s lyrics and Hunt’s provacative performance remind us that the land belongs to us together, God and mankind, as a treasured, intimate meeting place:

I will place my dwelling in your midst
Leviticus 26:11 NRSV

And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
Ezekiel 37:26 ESV

Furthermore, the song’s description in merism,* from one end to the other or one extreme to another, implying the full experience of everything in between, reflects a key characteristic of God’s Word:

Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba—as numerous as the sand on the seashore—be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle.
2 Samuel 17:11 NIV

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12 NIV

Finally, the “voice sounding”: Many moments of the LORD’s voice are captured in Scripture.

Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.
Deuteronomy 4:12 NIV

The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
2 Samuel 22:14 NIV

Then a cloud enveloped them; and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Mark 9:7 CJB

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
John 3:29 NIV

This 4th of July, as we pause to cherish the land where our freedom has taken root and flourished, may we pursue the intimate presence of the Lord in this land.

Immanuel—God with us.
Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Revelation 21:3 HCSB

And this this my prayer:

G O D

B L E S S

A M E R I C A

wildflowers on a California hillside
A California hillside golden in wildflowers

For complete lyrics to “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, go to www.woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/This_Land.htm

Many thanks to recording artist Sam Hunt for his fresh, alluring performance of this folk song classic, www.samhunt.com/ or visit Sam’s Facebook Page

*Merism, as defined by Dr. John Sailhamer, is a Hebrew figure of speech that “expresses ‘totality’ by combining two contrasts or two extremes.” Quotation from Genesis Unbound (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah, 1996), page 56.

Move your cursor over text to reveal more of God’s Word in links to www.blueletterbible.org

Photo Credits:
©2019 Shelley S. Cramm

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