John Fuller: In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Well, freedom, liberty was the pressing need felt by the leaders of 13 American colonies more than 200 years ago. They had a deep faith in God and decided to take a stand against the mightiest empire in the world when they signed the Declaration of Independence. I’m John Fuller. This is Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly. And, Jim, I suspect that there are many, many people who really don’t understand and fully comprehend the circumstances surrounding that document and this special day.
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Jim Daly: Well, it’s true, John, we weren’t present at the moment. All the subtlety of what was going on in the culture of early America is lost. We don’t know it, but we can try to feel it through creative efforts. And, you know, think about the wonder that we have today. When we celebrate July 4th, it’s friends and family and barbecue and maybe going for a hike here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains are going to the beach, if that’s what you live by. We celebrate it with fun and recreation and family. But we’ve got to remember, this is a serious issue. Back in 1776, these founding fathers, as they were putting their lives on the line, the Declaration of Independence was seen as the document of treason by the British. In fact, I didn’t know this, but they had to keep the name secret of the signers of the Declaration just to protect their lives. And that’s the environment. That’s the subtlety that we’re talking about that’s lost on us today. But our good colleagues that produce Adventures in Odyssey produced a fabulous creative recollection of 1776, and we want to play that today for you.
John: As we do that, let me give some background. Adventures in Odyssey is a radio program that we’ve produced since 1987. It’s intended for children. Families across the land listen to it though. It’s so well done. And it weaves together entertainment and biblical truth. And the setting is the small fictional town of Odyssey and the grandfather type character named Mr. Whitaker, or Whit, runs an old-fashioned ice cream shop. In addition to being a radio program, Adventures and Odyssey is also available on CD or in download form, and we have details at focusonthefamily.com/radio. Today’s episode is called The Day Independence Came and features a young history buff named Erwin Springer, who is currently playing a game of historical trivia with Whit and his friend Tom. But in a few minutes, who knows where he’ll be.
Whit: Okay, here’s one for you: Who commanded the British forces during the Revolution?
Irwin: That’s easy, General Charles Cornwallis.
Tom: Oh boy, he sure got that. How do you know all that stuff, Irwin?
Irwin: Oh, I love the Revolutionary War. There were so many great heroes like Washington, Adams and Nathan Hale. It’s my favorite period in history.
Whit: Speaking of Franklin, that reminds me. I have a book about him for you, Irwin. It’s a big thick one, too. I found it in a sale downtown.
Irwin: Really? Where is it?
Whit: It’s on one of the shelves in the Bible room. I didn’t want any of the kids to handle it before you got to it.
Tom: Look at him go. You’d think he was looking for buried treasure or something.
Whit: Well, what makes you think he isn’t?
Irwin: Great, there’s nobody here. I’ll be able to read it right now. Let’s see. There it is on the top shelf. Now, where’s the step ladder? Well, here’s a chair. Oh, Mr. Whittaker doesn’t like us to climb on chairs. I’ll just do it real quick and nobody will ever know. There we go. It’s still pretty high, I think I can stretch up and get it though. Got it! Whoa! whoa!
Oh, oh my head. Ouch, oh my head. The book must of hit it when I fell down. Hey, where is my book? Come to think of it, where’s Whit’s End? This looks like the old dirt road up to Trickle Lake, except it isn’t.
Nathan: Boy! You, boy!
Irwin: Who me?
Nathan: Yes! Follow me if you value your hide.
Irwin: Ah, excuse me, but I was taught never to go with strangers. Oh, I’m right behind you.
British Soldier #1: Hold up rebel dogs, hold up!
Irwin: Did he say rebels?
Nathan: Yes! We’ve got to get out of this clearing. Over there. Get behind those bushes.
British Soldier #2: Where are they?
British Soldier #1: I don’t know. They run like rabbits. They’ve got to be about here somewhere.
British Soldier #2: Let’s take a breather for a moment, shall we?
Irwin: They look like redcoats.
Nathan: They are redcoats and deadly ones, too. We have to think of some way out of this. We could fight, but unfortunately, I have no more shot left. Still, there must be some way.
Irwin: Hey, look up there above the soldiers. Do you see it? That big white looking thing.
Nathan: Yes, so?
Irwin: It’s a wasp’s nest.
Nathan: So it is. How’s your aim?
Irwin: Uh, not too good.
Nathan: Alright, looks like it’s up to me then. Hand me that rock over there. I only have one shot, so it has to count. Are you ready?
Irwin: Yup, ready.
Nathan: Hey lobster backs, how about some company?
Soldiers: Oh, look out…. oh…
Irwin: Ha, look at them go.
Nathan: We’ve fixed them for fair, eh?
Irwin: Oh, the wasps are turning. Let’s get out of here. Oh, ouch…they’re still coming.
Nathan: There’s a lake ahead. Can you swim?
Nathan: Well, there’s no time like the present to learn.
Nathan: Now, don’t struggle, I’ve got you. Now that’s it, just move your arms and legs, that’s good, that’s it. Now up onto the shore. Well, we’ve had quite an adventure and I don’t even know your name or where you’re from.
Irwin: I’m Irwin Springer from Odyssey.
Nathan: Well, Irwin Springer from Odyssey, I thank you for saving my life.
Irwin: Likewise, I’m sure. And you are?
Nathan: My name is Hale, Nathan Hale.
Irwin: Nathan Hale? The Nathan Hale?!?
Nathan: You’ve heard of me?
Irwin: Who hasn’t heard of you?
Nathan: Well, I don’t know, everyone I would imagine?
Irwin: Wait a minute. If you’re Nathan Hale, then this must be…What year is this?
Nathan: 1776, July to be precise. We’re just outside of the township of New York.
Irwin: New York? Oh, wow! Oh, wow!
Nathan: Mr. Springer are you alright?
Irwin: Yeah… yeah… I just can’t… You’re really Nathan Hale?
Nathan: Yes. I think I better get you back to camp, you seem a bit delirious. Can you walk?
Irwin: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Nathan: Are you sure? It’s a good stretch of the legs.
Irwin: I’m okay, really. Let’s go.
Nathan: Good fellow! Alright, this way then.
Irwin: Wait a minute… What camp?
Nathan: The camp of the Continental Army, of course.
Irwin: Oh, wow! Oh, wow!
Sentry: Halt! Who goes there?
Nathan: Nathan Hale and Master Irwin Springer from the township of Odyssey.
Sentry: Nathan? Thank God you’re alright. You’re long overdue.
Nathan: If it hadn’t been for this young man, I might not have made it at all.
Sentry: You’re to report to headquarters right away.
Nathan: Yes, I do have information that won’t wait. Master Springer, follow me.
Irwin: Oh, wow! Oh, wow! I can’t believe this. I’m in the middle of the Colonial Army.
Nathan: We don’t have much, but we call it home.
Irwin: This is everything I’ve ever dreamed about come to life.
Nathan: I’m glad it meets with your approval. Here we are, the Headquarters’ tent. Wait here there’s someone I want you to meet.
Irwin: This is incredible, incredible! The kids at Whit’s End are never going to believe this. I’m not even sure I believe it. Maybe I should pinch myself to see if I’m awake. No, if I am dreaming, I don’t want to wake up. This is great!
Nathan: Master Springer, come in.
Irwin: What next?
Washington: So this is the young man who saved my Captain’s life.
Nathan: Yes, sir. This is Master Irwin Springer of Odyssey.
Washington: I’m pleased to make your acquaintance Master Springer. I’m George Washington.
Irwin: Oh, wow! Oh, wow!
Washington: “Oh, Wow?” Is that some sort of Indian greeting?
Nathan: I don’t know, Sir. He does seem to say it often, though.
Washington: Well, in the interest of maintaining good relations with the people of Odyssey, I say, “Oh, wow” to you Master Springer.
Irwin: Thank you, Sir.
Washington: In saving Captain Hale you have done me a great service. I am in your debt.
Irwin: You… in my debt? Oh, no Sir. I just pointed out where the wasps were. It was Captain Hale who did all the work.
Washington: And modest, too. Master Irwin, we were just about to retire for prayers. Would you join us?
Washington: Unless, of course, you don’t pray?
Irwin: Oh, no, no, no. I do pray, every day. I’m a Christian.
Washington: A patriot and a Christian, too. There’s no better combination. Let’s do it, then. My tent’s this way.
Washington: …oh, most glorious God, I acknowledge and confess my faults in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. Direct my thoughts, words and work. Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, in His name, Amen.
Washington: Master Irwin, you seem perplexed?
Irwin: I… I just can’t believe I’m praying with General Washington. I never knew you were so… I mean… I’ve always read that you were religious, but I didn’t realize how much Jesus really meant to you.
Washington: And what of you Irwin Springer, do you hold those truths in your heart?
Irwin: Well… I… guess I never thought about it before. I mean…I’ve read about it and everything, but until now I never realized how God really does rule countries and He is in control of what happens to them. So, I guess the answer to your question is… Yes, Sir. I do hold these truths in my heart.
Washington: Then Captain Hale was correct. You are the right man for the job.
Irwin: Uh, job? What job?
Washington: Listen carefully. Even as we speak, the Second Continental Congress is preparing a statement of independence from England. But I fear that some in that assembly do not feel as you and I do, that God must be first in our country. And so, I have written a message to them, urging them to remember the Ruler of Nations as they ready the document. I wish you, Irwin Springer to deliver this message.
Irwin: Me? …
Washington: I know the journey will be tiring and there is little time, but will you do this for me?
Irwin: Oh, yes Sir!
Washington: Excellent! Your horse is waiting outside.
Irwin: Uh, horse?
Nathan: Yes. You do ride, don’t you?
Irwin: Well, uh… There’s no time like the present to learn. Are you coming with me, Captain Hale?
Nathan: No, I’m afraid I must travel a different path, back to New York.
Irwin: But you’ll be caught. I mean… if your caught, won’t you be? …
Nathan: …Hanged? Yes, in all probability. But if that is the Lord’s will then who am I to stand in the way. I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. Now, up you go.
Washington: God’s speed, Irwin Springer. You carry our best hope. Onward to liberty.
John: You’re listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And today we’re featuring a special radio drama called The Day Independence Game. It’s just one of 12 imaginative history-based dramas from our Adventures in Odyssey Collection called For God and Country. Now the collection is available as a CD set or an audio download. You can learn more about Adventures in Odyssey when you contact us. Today, of course, we’re closed for the 4th of July holiday, but our website has all the details. So head on over to focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And now for the conclusion of today’s special Independence Day presentation of Adventures in Odyssey on Focus on the Family.
Irwin: Whoa, whoa, whoa… Why did I ever think riding a horse was fun? But this is it, the Pennsylvania State House. Oh, wow!
Irwin: I’m sorry, I… Mr. Whittaker?
Franklin: Who? …
Irwin: Oh, nothing, you just look like someone from my hometown.
Franklin: Oh, really? Poor fellow.
Irwin: Yeah. Is this where the Second Continental Congress is meeting?
Franklin: Well indeed it is. That’s them in there. Come, have a seat Master… uh?
Irwin: Irwin Springer. Thanks, but I’ve been sitting too long already. Besides, I have a message for the Congress from General Washington.
Franklin: Oh, well, we can’t keep that waiting, can we? Here, help me up then and we’ll deliver your message.
Irwin: But they’re talking.
Franklin: Oh that’s merely Adams and Dickinson. They’re always talking. Come on now.
Dickinson: …and exposing a growing family before we’ve got another shelter.
Adams: It is Britain who has already destroyed the shelter.
Franklin: President Hancock.
Hancock: Mr. Franklin, we’re in debate.
Irwin: Benjamin Franklin?!?
Franklin: I realize that Sir, and I apologize for the outburst, but this young gentleman has just arrived with a message from General Washington.
Hancock: Oh, well then, by all means do read it.
Franklin: All right, go ahead then Master Springer.
Irwin: Oh, wow! “Gentleman of the Congress: I write you at a most delicate time. Our cause faces its most trying days. General Howe has gathered 30,000 troops, ready to strike our position. As usual, we are short on ammunition, rations and men, but we stand ready to fight, awaiting the outcome of your decision for or against independence.
Adams: There! What do you think of your precious King now, Mr. Dickinson? A King who has amassed 30,000 troops to attack one of his own colonies.
Dickinson: A colony that rebelled against him, Sir! Discipline where discipline is due.
Adams: Discipline? Have you forgotten the causes for which we fight? Taxation without representation is the oppression of our citizens.
Dickinson: Unlike you Mr. Adams, I cannot so easily remove myself from the most powerful empire on the earth. We have no hope of winning! Better live Englishman than dead patriots!
Franklin: There are many Mr. Dickinson who would say, “to live under English rule is to be dead.”
Dickinson: Really, Mr. Franklin. And does this cause merit sending our small army to certain defeat against such overwhelming numbers?
Irwin: But it’s not certain defeat. We’ll win, honest!
Hancock: Master Springer you are a guest in this assembly, please remember that.
Irwin: Uh, yes Sir.
Franklin: The cause of freedom merits any price Mr. Dickinson. And as for myself, this great force only spurs my belief that we must strengthen our unity, not weaken it. We must indeed all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.
Dickinson: I think General Washington will not find his opponents so amusing.
Adams: Of what concern is the size of the enemy? I feel no anxiety at the large army against us. Have we forgotten the remarkable interventions of heaven in our favor? God will not forsake a people who engaged in so righteous a cause if we remember His loving kindness.
Dickinson: And are we so sure God is with us?
Irwin: General Washington thinks so.
Hancock: Master Springer.
Irwin: I’m sorry President Hancock I know I shouldn’t talk but I haven’t finished the Message. “I firmly believe that God is on our side as long as we are on His and so my only request is that you seek the counsel of almighty God and humbly implore His providence in this most solemn task. G. Washington.”
Dickinson: Well… the General’s faith does him credit, to be sure. But most military men believe that God is with them. It hardly makes it so. More likely, God doesn’t care at all about this conflict.
Franklin: He cares, Mr. Dickinson. I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall
to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
Dickinson: You speak of empires, Dr. Franklin. But I see no empire here, only 13 colonies trying to bind together into a commonwealth. And what will happen to that commonwealth in 20 or 30 years, gentlemen? Might not this great Union itself become unwieldy and split into separate commonwealths?
Irwin: No! It won’t! It’ll stay together and grow! What you’re doing here today is the beginning of a great nation, the greatest in the whole world! You can’t give it up now! You can’t!
Dickinson: The idle dreams of youth. But what does reality say, gentlemen? Does it not tell us that this Union you hold so dear will dissolve and the many who have been sacrificed on the altar of “freedom” will have died in vain? I implore you, gentlemen, don’t let that happen! Vote against independence!
Hancock: Mr. Adams, have you anything to say?
Adams: What can I say that hasn’t already been hackneyed back and forth a hundred times in this room? The issue is plain. Before God, I believe the hour has come. Live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment and by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment, independence now! Independence forever!
Hancock: Order, gentlemen, order, please! It must still be put to the vote.
Dickinson: Mr. President, may I say something?
Hancock: Mr. Dickinson.
Dickinson: I’m sure that my behavior today will finish off my popularity in this land. But I would rather be unpopular forever than vote away the blood and happiness of my countrymen. It’s clear I can’t stop you, but I also can’t, in good conscience, vote with you. Therefore, I respectfully take my leave…
Adams: A noble fellow.
Hancock: To the vote, gentlemen.
Hancock: “Resolved: that these United States are and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be, totally dissolved.” New Hampshire?
New Hampshire: Aye.
Massachusetts (Adams): Aye.
Adams: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political band…
Hancock: Rhode Island?
Rhode Island: Aye.
Hancock: New Jersey?
New Jersey: Aye.
Franklin: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal…
Hancock: North Carolina?
North Carolina: Aye.
Hancock: South Carolina?
South Carolina: Aye.
Irwin: …appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World, do declare that these United Colonies are and of right ought to be, free and independent states. And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor…
Hancock: New York?
New York: New York respectfully abstains.
Hancock: That’s 12 to 0 with one abstention. The motion passes…
Franklin: Ride, Irwin Springer! Proclaim the news that these United States, under God, are now, and forevermore free!
Irwin: The Colonies have independence! … The Declaration has
passed! … The United States of America are free! Hurray! … Hey! Whoa! Whoa boy!!
Irwin: The United States are free… The United States are free…
Whit: Irwin? Irwin? Come on now, wake up. Atta boy…
Irwin: Ooh! Ow, my head… Mr. Franklin.
Whit: Franklin? No, it’s Mr. Whittaker.
Tom: Easy, now, easy. You took quite a fall.
Irwin: I was… I was in Philadelphia… with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Ooh…
Tom: Sounds like he’s gonna be okay. I’ll go check on the ambulance.
Irwin: What happened?
Whit: Your chair slipped out from under you. Looks like the book hit you and you hit the floor. You were only out for a couple of seconds, but we’ll take you to the hospital just in case. What were you talking about when you woke up?
Irwin: Oh! I had this incredible dream! I was in the Revolution, with Nathan Hale! And I prayed with George Washington, and he sent me back to the Continental Congress with a message and I saw them sign the Declaration of Independence…
Whit: Oh, wait a minute, easy now! Sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure.
Irwin: I know it was only a dream, but it seemed so real!
Whit: Dreams are that way sometimes.
Irwin: Yeah… But you know what was really weird, Mr. Whittaker? Benjamin Franklin looked and sounded just like you.
Whit: Really? Poor fellow.
Irwin: Oh, wow!
John: And that concludes our Independence Day presentation on Focus on the Family, a radio drama called The Day Independence Came. And it was produced by our tremendously talented Adventures and Odyssey team. And Jim, I love the creativity and the fun. Throughout that whole episode.
Jim: There was a lot of fun, you know. My boys loved listening to Adventures and Odyssey as children, right about bedtime. That was when we would sit and listen. They’d lay in bed, and it was great, and they did really love it and so many great lessons for them. Biblically based lessons. There’s so much humor and creativity in the way the team describes that moment in history. And I trust it gave you another perspective about the 4th of July and what it means to live in these wonderful United States. Isn’t it amazing to be able to celebrate this holiday even though our founding fathers were flawed? Of course they’re human. There are no perfect people. The Lord brought together some incredibly intelligent and insightful men to form this country, and we’re still benefiting from the wisdom that they put in place many, many years ago.
John: That’s right. In so many of them, as you know, Jim had a deep religious faith. And that was evident when you read the writings. When you go back and look at history, it seems to be forgotten by so many today. And there are even active forces that want to remove God from all public conversation in public view. Which does seem wrong, doesn’t it?
Jim: It sure does. We’re losing kind of the foundation of what this country is built upon. We talk about what’s happening with religious liberty and the other freedoms that we’ve enjoyed for over 200 years. These freedoms were brilliant measures that the Founding Fathers put into place, and no other nation was created with these kinds of liberties in mind. And we are all so blessed to experience that here. And hopefully God’s mercy will continue to flow through this nation, so these deep, foundational beliefs can be protected. And it’s true if we lose these freedoms. I really believe we’re on the road to tyranny. You only need to look back at history to see that pattern repeated over and over again. And I hope we’ve been able to give you an educating and entertaining perspective on the founding of our nation. Our Founding Fathers deserve respect, and our nation deserves our steadfast diligence to continue being a nation of freedoms and a nation under God.
John: Well those are some good thoughts, Jim. And I trust that you and your family will consider those in light of the celebrations that accompany Independence Day and learn more about Adventures in Odyssey and this specific drama from our For God and Country Collection. When you stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. While you’re there, let me invite you to help us produce more creative faith building programs like this one. These programs have a profound impact on a child’s understanding and love for God, and your financial gift of any amount today helps us plant more seeds of biblical truth in our Adventures and Odyssey series. Make a monthly contribution or one time gift of any amount and thank you in advance for being generous. Coming up next time, you’ll hear about creating healthy rhythms for your marriage.
Jenni Graebe: It’s our job to evaluate what what brings us life and make decisions based on those values. And that’s where the peace comes from. When we make decisions for our family and for our marriage that line up with those values.
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John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back here as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.