"Is there any doubt that the handwriting
is on the wall for where we are heading...
manners have been corrupted,
morality has sunk into depravity,
indulgence is out of control and,
above all, faith has been discredited and unbelief has become fashionable.
When a culture reaches this point,
it becomes so out of touch with truth
that masses of people deny outright the existence of God.
God's will for the nation has been abandoned
and man has been made God."
that was said hundreds of years ago by William Wilberforce, and via the miracle of paraphrase, furnished to us through a captivating revised edition of a classic, written by Bob Beltz, we are able to tap into the same mindset, only with a modern view.
"...these are the things
that keep you from having a proper sense
of priority for the things of God.
You will be tempted to settle for cultural Christianity
and will not willing to pay the price for the real thing.
The former fits your ambition better.
Your faith will not be authentic faith at all....
You will think of yourself as a Christian
because everyone who lives in the country is a Christian.
You will bear no signs of transformation,
either in your thinking or behavior...
If you are willing to listen to this warning
and not settle for a cultural Christianity
but desire to know and possess authentic faith,
it is time for you to step away from the crowd.
God is at work in your life.
Get away to a place where no one is around
and get down on your knees and pray.
Ask God to take away your spiritual indifference
and insensitivity and enable you to draw close to Him...
ask the Holy Spirit to begin to work in you
from the inside out,
to make you the man and woman
God designed you to be...
One man's Christianity "stirred the conscience of a nation" -- redirecting every thought, word, and deed surrounding the cruel depravity of an entire group of people -- and ultimately, raising the level of compassion and truth and justice high enough -- to bring about the end of slavery. As the story goes, "three days before he died, [Wilberforce] learned that Parliament would pass the legislation abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire."
The Wilberforce connections made -- God and Country, Truth and Values, Faith and Foundation -- directly linked for all the world; and to this day stand instrumental, fundamental, and essential in the creation of a civil, vibrant, productive society. Naturally, these ideas became the cornerstone for the making of a new world, in America.
Our founding fathers, townships and settlements, future universities and curriculum, poets and countrymen, literary giants like Emerson and Thoreau, and the whole of government itself, carried with them the Wilberforce thread; and likewise, America created the very conditions to set in motion over two hundred years of our Judeo-Christian heritage in action, paving the way for freedom, liberty, and justice for all.
Was it perfect? I think we can all agree -- it was not.
But what is?
Are you perfect in every way? Am I?
Speaking only for myself, that would be a no.
Have some people acted out of character, shall we say, and done the nation wrong? Indeed.
That is the beauty and the beast of free will; we are each accountable, individually, for our own actions, our own deeds -- whether they be good or bad; we are each responsible for our own words -- whether they are respectable or dispiriting; we are each beholden to our own beliefs, our own religion, our own thoughts, our own God (or not), respective of our own mind, our own free will, in equal portion.
What we do individually -- how each and every one of us responds to our inherent duty and delight of being our own person -- when it is applied in the macro, the collective is made and fostered.
In other words, if we stop being good people, the entire nation suffers.
As a white girl, I can easily become unglued thinking back to the days following the Civil War and how southerners responded (not all, but who are we kidding, what does it matter -- as a whole, the south stood for so much reprehensible damage that, to this day, we will never forget). As a white girl, I could reach a level of lividness unknown to man when contemplating the depravity of blacks throughout our history -- segregation, the horrid acts of the KKK, past administrations (like Wilson's) returning us to the dark ages with racial bigotry and separatism. It makes me ill; and, being grounded in merely my little reality, left only to imagine how a black person must feel.
I can't take it back, you know, history.
I am powerless to take any of it back.
There is nothing I can say to make it better, to take the pain away.
as a mom, there is no place to kiss to make it all better.
the damage is done.
But here's the thing -- and it's a big but and I cannot lie -- am I responsible for it?
Having been a child of the sixties, having grown outside of the south my entire life, having been educated in integrated schools all my life, having friends, coworkers, fellow congregants of color, right there along side me ALL THE DAYS of my life, and now, having entered into an era welcoming the first African-American president, when a black woman has become pretty much the most noteworthy, influential American that has ever lived -- and super rich on top of it, when all walks of livelihoods, interests, political views, activities no longer gravitate by color, how can we continue to break each other, and jeopardize our future, using the very injustices of our past to hold us back?
It wasn't me. And more than likely, it wasn't you either.
What one person, and with others conspired, to take from another -- be it life, liberty or happiness -- will remain forever wrong. No question. And the only way it will serve us, is to move forward, never forgetting AND letting it go.
Is it too naive for me to think we are all brand new?
I cannot be held responsible for another man's wrongdoings; it is just not fair.
I can care;
I can respond with compassion;
I can teach my own child to live without bigotry and hatred for another;
I can love and accept those who I come in contact of another race, unconditionally;
I can embrace ideas that foster unification, rather than division;
I can become educated in the history that has allowed untruths and false perceptions to shape us;
I can respect a president of color, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with his policy;
I can become awestruck at the celebrity of a woman who has changed America from the inside out for the better -- left with a wish to meet her one day;
I can enjoy the talents of all Americans, no matter the color of their skin, but the content of their character;
I can do my best to be kind to all people, even if showing a simple courtesy, like saying a please or a thank you, opening a door or giving someone my seat -- I can do that, with great joy;
I can be the best I can be, finding strength, courage, conviction, and love from a faith dating back thousands of years; all these things I can do moving forward.
I think I can, I think I can...
I believe, individually and collectively, we can make the grade.
Did you know they built the railroad tracks over the great heights of the Alps before they even had a locomotive engine with enough horsepower to take it?
We must have what we want in mind; first intention must be made clear and certain. Do we want to get along, or not? IF the answer is yes, than what we do from here on out becomes elementary. We set in motion the very thoughts and things and ideas to unite us, not divide us. We take steps forward, not back. We move in the direction our new found glory takes us, and with every step forward, we build momentum, setting forth the very conditions from which a new civil society can be made -- and fostered. we continue to elevate everyone's freedom and liberties; we do not take from one just to give, lend, beg, steal, borrow to another..
Wilberforce set in motion --going back to the eighteenth century -- the power of authentic faith; it shaped a brand new world, it healed a country and centuries of oppression, and gave us, individually and collectively, ideas we can use to move forward with honor, all of us.
Our president is with the families of 9/11 today, marking the death of an international terrorist as a symbolic close in the history books; does it change anything? will it take away the catastrophic loss of life and security of the last decade? no.
nothing will really change from that which has already lived and died. every measure of destruction is still gone. what is left with us is the memory, and what we take with us moving forward is the lesson, the gift that only comes with grace of God, along with the inherent ability to raise our spirits to the Most High (if we so choose to accept it).
think about it; if we held tight to the things that did us harm all our lives, how broken would we be? if we led our lives according to all the horrors done to others, whether last week or long ago, how heavy would our hearts remain? if we carried these burdens all the days of our lives, what capacity is left to wrap our arms around the good just waiting for us?
I believe God wants us to live in joy with one another. God wants us to learn to love one another. God works in mysterious ways through the good, the bad and the ugly all over the world, every day.
There are powerful, wonderful, forces afoot; this is a day to give thanks to the glory of God. Spirit works, bringing life lessons and generous blessings, whether we are rich, or poor, or somewhere in-between; it makes no difference. My connection to God is the same, but different, as Oprah's; prayers have no skin color; prayers are an equal opportunity for all people; prayers work in the same way for you as they do for me and so on and so on. and if you don't want to pray at all, that's an option, too.
AMERICA has been founded, fostered, and prospered by a natural, deep connection to Spirit and all that is Divine and Good. IT is a fact that will live on in a well documented history; it is a fact that our future, explicitly and undeniably, relies.
Perhaps you can take the Christian out of the country, but you can't take the Christianity out of a nation.
The president reminded us on Sunday night, we are "One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." All faiths revel and take liberties Under God; this beautiful, spiritual connection is what unites us as a people, and powerful enough to bring the end of slavery, oppression, and inequities large and small.
AMEN to that.
Let us live it, breathe it, worship it on this day, and from this day forward, with joy and thanksgiving.
Of course, some will argue with the president indeed; some people might just say, there is no God, what about me, what about my rights; while other people might say they were for It before they were against It but now they're for It again -- maybe -- but not quite sure; and then, some people might not even care if we do anything about It at all; and some people might just go wee wee wee all the way home; but history tells us, and our hearts show us, THIS nation, THIS foundation, THIS country built upon the Rock of Ages, indivisible -- THIS IS WHO WE ARE.
and much like history has repeatedly tested us, much like the days of Wilberforce -- rumor has it -- tomorrow is, once again, up for grabs.
Not if my prayers have anything to do with it; can I get an amen?
Make it a Good Day, G