July 4, 2013
On July 4, 1970, Billy Graham stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a site where just seven years earlier, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. It was a turbulent time in our nation, and Billy Graham spoke very poignant words in a speech on “Honor America Day” he called “The Unfinished Dream.”
As we celebrate Independence Day more than 40 years later, meditate on the excerpts below and pray for our nation.
“The Bible tells us that God has a standard for men and nations and that His standard must be met. It is right and proper to honor our country, to rejoice in her liberties and to sing her praise. But this can be abused when we make it a substitute for God. We honor America but we do not worship her. The First Commandment says: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
Looking out on modern America, we must admit there is a vast “vacuum of the soul,” a void into which millions of Americans are pouring alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, pornography and religious occultism.
Our youth are perishing …in a quest for meaning and purpose in a world in which their elders have not always given them answers to the ultimate questions of life. They are seeking reality, but apart from God the only reality they experience is life without meaning, isolation, loneliness, frustration, alienation, and a terrible burden of guilt.
The Bible is the only Book that fully answers the ultimate questions that youth are asking: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I Going? What is the purpose and meaning of my existence? How can I find peace and happiness here and hereafter?
The biblical answer is dramatic and satisfying. We are spiritual beings, created in the image of God. We have a will and the power to exercise it. We’ve been placed upon this earth for the express purpose of glorifying God and loving our neighbor. The entire universe has but one cosmic goal—to declare the glory of God. Only in doing God’s will can every American enjoy inner spiritual peace and happiness.
We have raised our hands and our voices in protest over many issues and causes during the past few years—why not raise them now to God.
Today I call upon all Americans to raise your voices in prayer and dedication to God and in recommitment to the ideals and dreams upon which our country was founded. Let’s dedicate ourselves to a renewal of faith in God, equality, justice and peace for all. Let’s dedicate ourselves to building rather than burning.
I say to you today, ‘Pursue the vision, reach toward the goal, fulfill the dream—and as you move to do it, never give in! Never give in! Never! Never! Never! Never!’”