“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” -Martin Niemoller (Clergyman who opposed Hitler and his demonic rule over Germany.)
A three year old carries a sign “F— Trump.” Thump! A judge orders a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent federal officials from restoring peace to the streets of Oregon. Thump! Not one player on two MLB teams has the fortitude to stand alone during our national anthem. Thump! Every day it seems I take another blow to my stomach. The blows keep coming. I am almost breathless at the rapid disintegration of our once great nation, the one I love.
I come from a perspective and conviction that is shaped by the Word of God. My motives, as best as I can judge them, are to please the Lord Jesus Christ and bring honor to his name. But, I am also a human male, raised in a conservative, Republican environment, surrounded by evangelical traditions and ideals, and in a world that was patriotic, with unabashed pride in America. I also possess a sin nature. I too often see things as I want them to be, for my sake and my good. I may say things that are right, but they come out of my frustrations and anger, rather than out of my love for Christ. On occasion I use sarcasm (a long Rieben tradition), am insensitive and can on occasion, “get in your face.” In other words, I use words that may make sense and maybe are right, but they do not fully build and benefit those who are listening to me at the moment. (Ephesians 4:29-30)
With that confession made, I still must do something! I cannot remain silent. We are in a national crisis. The soul of our country is the target. The battle is not merely a contest between two political parties or perspectives. This is a spiritual battle. I am convinced that America was birthed and blessed by God to serve the world. America took a terrible and disastrous turn downward when it accepted Roe verses Wade as law. The loss of the sacredness of life has cast a long, dreadful shadow upon our history.
Hatred, violence and murder are the fruits of that one disastrous decision. God may now be judging our nation through the evil flood that is rushing across our land. He has used evil in the past. I don’t know. But, what I also know this: There are determined and ruthless revolutionaries prowling the streets of my country, committed to destroying the beliefs and blessings that God has given to us as our sacred trust. In the midst of conflict, I have no other place to go other than God’s Word. I would be overwhelmed if I could not meet the Lord in the morning, gathered around His hope giving words.
(Romans 15:4) I have targeted one verse for my meditation in recent days. It comes from Psalm 25, my scripture for meditation for the last six months. David ends the psalm with this prayer: “Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May my integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Redeem Israel O God, from all their troubles.” (20-22)
David is in the midst of a crucial battle, as we are. He is taking blows as we are. He has one hope, as we do: The Lord. He is in God’s hands. He has one concern and it is this: When his life is weighed in the balance, when the battles have ended, he does not want to be shamed. This is his prayer: Don’t let me fail, for my hope in in you. Keep me standing. Then he adds this interesting request: “May my integrity and uprightness protect me.”
Here is my interpretation of that prayer: “Lord, you know my heart. By your grace you have called me to yourself, to love and serve you. You have centered my life in you. I now live to please you. In your Word you have shown me what is right and what is wrong. With all that is in me, I want to please you by obeying you in the midst of battle. May my integrity and obedience, my commitment to honor you, keep me fighting, faithful and standing, even when I am surrounded and taking blows to the stomach. My hope is in you.”
Then, he adds: “Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles.” As David prayed for his nation, I pray and fight for mine. How this battle turns out is not the decisive issue. I must fight on. I must remain faithful, even if I am the only one left standing. My integrity, my uprightness, my love for the Lord demands it!