As we prepare to leave New England, I thought I’d send you a photo of the National Monument to the Forefathers located right here in Plymouth, but unfortunately largely obscured not only by tall trees, but by cultural values somewhat unkind to the ideals that the monument so clearly expresses.
The cloudy, gray sky did not provide a picture-perfect backdrop for the 180-ton gray-ish statue (actually the largest granite monument in the world, and just a half-mile inland from Plymouth Rock). But you can appreciate its size and beauty even from this quick snapshot.
The monument’s largest figure is “Faith” with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching a Bible. Upon four lower buttresses are seated four figures symbolizing four different “outworkings” (my term) of Faith that the Pilgrims envisioned as foundational to a society that honors God: Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. (You have to see this to believe it: the Christian symbolism and history are undeniable.)
I can’t crawl into the minds of those who planned the monument in 1850, but it appears to me that the four “outworkings” are intended to be recognized by us as flowing from the very feet of Faith. There’s a profound lesson there for us, or maybe a series of lessons.
I know it’s not Thanksgiving time on the calendar, but I’m ready to celebrate! A monument explicitly dedicated to the cause of religious freedom, as evidenced by its own frontal inscription — even listing the names of those Mayflower voyagers — beckons me to praise God for the Pilgrims who seemed to know no fear that overrode their desire to worship freely.
I don’t need to tell you what those brave men and women gave up, or what dangers they faced at every turn. Or what price they paid. But they did have one pervasive fear worth noting: the Pilgrims feared God.
Though we, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, are to walk in freedom from fear (Second Timothy 1:7), may you and I never lose the holy fear of a holy God. We must fear the Lord.
In a day when many tour buses skip the Forefathers Monument altogether, may we thank God for this clear expression of our American and spiritual heritage. May we thank the Lord for the privilege of living in a nation where we can assemble for the public worship of our Savior. And may we pray our hearts out that our great God will maintain our national religious freedom.
It might not be an easy road for us. John Wayne said: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
Maybe it’s time to saddle up!