“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” J.R.R. Tolkien
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
A brutal murder in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, is dominating the news this last week in June. I sit down to write a warm and fuzzy letter about God and family and country and what it means to be an American; finding that warm and fuzzy is not so easy at the moment. Our hearts grieve with those fellow Believers in that historic city where one deranged young man was able to commit such a heinous act—and in a place of worship. That makes it sting all the more.
It is, however, in such a moment that God’s word seems all the more relevant. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). The face of evil and the powers of this dark world are entities to which we in America have become increasingly acquainted ever since 9/11/2001. When the noise and chaos gets so loud, we have to dig a little deeper and remember that evil will not win in the last day.
God’s Word calms our anxieties and comforts us in our grief.
I love my country and still believe that the principles upon which it was founded are noble, good, and true. That does not mean that power and authority have always performed in a manner that reinforces such virtues. But their failures do not mean that the virtues are not still noble, good, and true. I still pray for revival in our land and that God WILL bless America.
I learned a lot in putting this issue together. Enjoy our cover story on my friend, Nancy Luke Carpenter. I never had to send my son off to war. I am not sure I would have been as strong and faithful as she managed to be. But it was clear that God had been preparing her for her entire life to be a soldier’s mom. Nothing that comes our way is a surprise to Him. There is an old adage that says, “If He calls you to it, He will get you through it.” I think the biblical equivalent is that “His grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Charles and I recently spent a series of Friday nights (our pizza and movie night) watching Band of Brothers, the true story of Easy Company of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne division and their mission in WWII Europe. The word “discomfort” does not begin to describe the conditions in which they lived for years as they gave all for the cause of freedom and a way of life that has been their legacy and our grace-filled inheritance.
I loved my conversations with the veterans we are highlighting in our feature on The Telling Project. As they described their duties, their experiences, and the wounds that they will carry for the rest of their lives, every one of them said, “Oh, no doubt. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.” They are somewhat an anomaly.
Can you get a clearer picture of sacrifice on this side of the cross? I can’t help making a comparison. There are places in my life where I have failed so miserably that I cannot imagine anyone being willing to die for me, but certainly not the perfect Son of God.
The military arranges their troops in formations—brigades, companies, battalions, platoons, etc. But these diverse and individual human beings learn to function much like I think the body of Christ is supposed to function—in unity. Maybe we all—men, women, black, white, Democrat, Republican, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, and every other label you can name—could take a lesson. Would that we might all be Americans first.
Read this one cover to cover and praise God for the privilege of living in the land of the free. Happy Independence Day! God bless America—and please, Lord, send revival.