"I have often been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go" ... -- Abraham Lincoln.
Although not claiming any particular religious denomination, Abraham Lincoln eloquently expressed what appears to be one of the ways that God tries to get our attention. How often do we read in the Bible, or experience in our individual lives, a reminder to look to God when times are tough.
I am a man of faith. As a man of faith, I understand that I am a flawed individual who can only be admitted to Heaven by the grace of a merciful but just God. Being a Christian, I have the benefit of the Bible to inform myself with what God has revealed to us regarding his desires and plan. Time and time again, it appears that God reminds us to be mindful of him by the struggles in our individual and collective lives.
I have been blessed more than I can properly recount. I have never gone without food or shelter unless I have chosen to do so. I have been put in the company of, and made friends with, some of the very best people. I have a wife and children, which put up with all of my faults and foibles. I have even been saved from death a hand full of times and even blessed with a tangible miracle. None of which makes me special. It just illustrates the goodness of God.
I didn't always appreciate the way that God works in our lives. For roughly the middle one-third of my life, I wasn't even sure that God participated in our lives other than as a recipient of worship and judge at the end of our lives. In high school, a teacher told me that we go through a period of "mourning" when the childhood faith dies and the adult faith begins to take form. I had no idea that for me it would mean spending 10 plus years wandering in a spiritual desert. I wonder if it has anything to do with my stubborn streak?
I believe that we, Americans, Hoosiers, Clay Countians, and individually, are being called to a return to virtue.
I believe that we, individually and collectively, have set out deeper and deeper to wander in a spiritual desert. First, we pushed God out of the schools, then we pushed God out of the town square, finally we became fearful of offending people by reciting God's words in public. We even abandoned the family structure and pursue a hedonism shunned by even primitive cultures.
There is a saying among lawyers that the judge knows that at least half of the people testifying before him are lying. What a sad thing to say. Particularly when ours is a system dependant on the integrity of the individual participants to work properly.
What makes America, Indiana, and Clay County different from everywhere else? Human nature has not changed in at least 5,000 years; since the time of the Old Testament. What sets us apart is that we have traditionally believed, and put into practice, certain fundamental ideas. 1. There is a creator who made all things and should be worshiped. 2. The creator has revealed to us a moral code that when we live by it we are at our happiest and most prosperous. 3. The creator holds us accountable for our actions; particularly how we treat other people. 4. That the human soul lives beyond the human life.
Clearly it is not possible for we finite creatures to understand the infinite. It is natural and normal that we would have differing opinions on the details of our place in creation. Yet, when we acknowledge and live by these fundamental principals, it is undeniable that we made more human progress in the past two centuries than in the vast majority of all of the rest of human history.
Conversely, we can see that by not living these fundamental principals, we devolve and experience cultural decay. From my perspective, it seems that in the span of one generation we have devolved from the height of civilization to a neotribalism.
Evil flourishes where good people tolerate bad behavior. We are overwhelmingly populated with good people. Good people are inherently tolerant people. But inevitably there comes a time when enough is enough.
As individual people, as a community, as a state, and as a nation, it is time to rediscover God. It is time to re-examine the principals he has revealed to us for the conduct of our lives. It is time to be mindful that we will have to account both for the things that we do and the things that we fail to do. And we should be ever mindful that the "spark" which animates all living creatures exists beyond the difficulties and temptations of this life.
I confess that through the things I have done, and the things I have failed to do, I have not lived up to the standards that God expects from me. However, God always welcomes back his children if they only would return to him. In a way that is true to each of our individual beliefs, I believe that it is time to start making that journey back to our ever-welcoming Creator.