Sunrise / Sunset

Every generation in history passes down a combination of privileges and challenges to their descendants.  As they each die away, every nation, family, and individual chooses for themselves what they do with that legacy.

The fall of a nation can come through a slow slide of apathy or a drastic driven descent, but so too, a rise to righteousness may appear through a long hard climb or a sudden radical repentance.  We pray for the instantaneous but are often unwilling to persevere in what is required to achieve what may only come through dedication and sacrifice.

This was a concern of the founding fathers for our nation’s future as they mutually pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor”.

inside Independence Hall

Referring to the sun carved on the president’s chair, James Madison quoted Benjamin Franklin as saying, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting.” 

The early leaders of our nation faced many divisive issues:  state rights, restriction of power of the national government, terms for writing and interpreting laws.

the rising sun chair
platform at Gettysburg Cemetery

Eighty-seven years later, America’s leaders were divided again on state rights and power of the national government, along with legislating morality, rights for minorities, and the value of human life.  Lincoln expressed that instability in his address at Gettysburg:

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

monument to commemorate the dedication

With the political disunity in those early days, it would have been easy to become discouraged about the future.

Like them, we have much at stake and every reason to persevere with a stubborn optimism.   We cannot afford to be proud or grow complacent after a victory; nor we should allow ourselves to grow discouraged and despondent when disappointed.  Instead, we must resolve to be ever vigilant.

painting of the signing of the Constitution

It is futile to blame the generations before for what we are facing.  It is also unproductive to become angry and bitter with those have mistakenly put their hope in a person or political party, however good intentioned.

We must choose, as must those that follow us, to forgive and turn from the mistakes of those before us and to give thanks for any advantage they have provided.

So what can be done?

Pray for your leaders, but pray more for the people:  yourselves, your neighbors, for misguided Republicans and Democrats who have put their faith in men rather than God.

Open your eyes to your circle of influence.  “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  (1 pt. 2:12)  Live in such a way that you look like Jesus, not proud, superior, religious and legalistic, but full of mercy, generosity, and grace, live a life of integrity.  Then, ask the Lord to show you where to expand your reach to touch people with His love.

In America, the government reflects the will of the people.  So, if you want to change the nation, don’t look to the government, look to the people.   And, “We are the people”; so look to yourself first.  Remove any “logs” from your own “eyes”, and then love your neighbor, help your neighbor, and teach your neighbor what the scriptures say concerning these things.  (Keeping in mind, we are “blind” to our own faults until we ask God to reveal them to us.)

Oh, righteous ones, remember, the Lord was God both when King George was the monarch over the colonies and when President George was sworn into office (just as He was when David was on the throne of Israel, when Cyrus was expanding Persia, when Nero ruled Rome, and when Alexander, Napoleon, and Hitler were expanding their empires across the continents).

It was at the end of a life well lived and a revolution that Franklin said, “Now I know that it is a rising sun.”, but, Lincoln was in the midst of great conflict with no end in sight when he said, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that this nation, under God… shall not perish from the earth.”.

Consecrate yourself this day, as an American “Holy to the Lord”, and dedicate yourself to the great task God has predestined for you.

Is the sun rising or setting in your life, in your home, in your marriage?  Every new day, is a dawning opportunity.  Let US be before God the kind of people we want our nation to become.

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