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On Mission to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder

Last week Dwight and I were talking about the times we live in. Somehow in our discussion, a memory came up from from many years ago in the late 70’s. Our family was attending a summer Bible conference with a number of other families from our church in Greensboro. A part of our experience each day was to attend a sermon offered by a visiting pastor. A statement that the pastor made on this particular day came to mind as we were talking. Dwight, too, remembered the statement. He also remembered the pastor’s name. We began a search through old notes for the exact statement and the context of the statement. Dwight looked through his old bibles. He looked through notebooks. We searched the internet for the remembered quote. God showed it to me. I had it written on the bottom of a page in my King James Bible that I had been using at the time. There it was at the bottom of the John 17 chapter. That gave us the context for the quote. Here is the quote:

The air is too turbulent and the time is too short to entertain any longer.

Now I have a confession to make. Dwight and I were married in 1968. Our first child was born early in 1971. Our second child was born in 1973. A third joined us in 1978. Those were the days of rearing children, making a living, much travel for work, getting our young family established and heavy involvement in church life. Remember that we were living in the shadow of the turbulent 60’s. The upheaval of the time was not particularly on our minds. Our eyes were focused pretty much on our little spot on this earth and taking care of it. We did not have an appreciation for either the turbulence of the air or an awareness of the rapid passage of time. There certainly was not a sense of the weightiness of the times.

Fast forward 30+ years …. and our perspective is much different! The seeds that had been sown in the 60’s have taken root. They have become firmly established in every segment of the culture around us today. The life that I knew as a little girl has changed drastically. I know that the small community that I grew up in was not a perfect place, but it was a place where God was important, neighbors were important, how one behaved was important. There was still a sense of right and wrong, and caring for one another. School and home and family were linked.

Our culture today is in shambles. I am not talking only about politics and elections. I am talking about morals, the condition of families, the presence and prevalence of evil. These are dark times to me. I see division, disrespect, and hatred. I see families ripped apart as each member shouts past one another, and no one hears what the other is saying.

There was another time long ago in 1775 when Patrick Henry began his speech to the Virginia Convention with these words:

Mr. President, no man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in different lights, and therefore I hope that it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve…

Oh that we would hear such words of respect today.

A nation is important. A governmental organization of people is a part of God’s plan. Within that government organization is established the means by which a large body of people live together under God’s plan for community – the morals, the respect, the justice, compassion, the communicating of these principles to the next generation. And God raises up leaders and nations. And God brings down leaders and nations. And we do not know where we are in the flow of God’s plan in history.

What we do know is this from John 17:

JESUS PRAYED FOR ALL HIS DISCIPLES WHO WERE YET TO COME. HE GAVE US HIS WORD. HE TOLD US THAT WE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD NOR DO WE BELONG TO IT. HE DID NOT ASK GOD TO TAKE US OUT OF THE WORLD. HE DID ASK GOD TO PROTECT US FROM THE EVIL ONE. HE DID ASK GOD TO SANCTIFY US IN THE TRUTH, THAT IS, TO SET US APART FOR HIS PURPOSES AND TO MAKE US HOLY. HE COMMISSIONED AND SENT US INTO THE WORLD. JESUS SANCTIFIED HIMSELF TO DO GOD’S WILL SO THAT WE ALSO MAY BE SANCTIFIED. JESUS PRAYED THAT WE WOULD ALL BE ONE, JUST AS THE FATHER IS IN JESUS AND JESUS IS IN THE FATHER, THAT WE WOULD ALSO BE ONE IN THEM, SO THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT GOD SENT JESUS.

The air is too turbulent and the time is too short to entertain any longer.

If we are not to entertain any longer, what are we to do?

  • We are not to be afraid. (2 Timothy 1:6-8)
  • We are to put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:6-18)
  • We are to stand firm. (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8)
  • Never leave our first love. (Revelation 2:4-5)

A couple of years ago, Dwight and I had the privilege to visit at Gettysburg as part of a leadership training opportunity. I remember us lining up shoulder to shoulder as we re-enacted the march forward in battle. We were reminded how those men marched, shoulders touching, and when someone fell, the men moved to again touch shoulders. Why? Because as their shoulders touched, they reinforced and supported one another toward courage and strength as they forged ahead.

Brothers and sisters, may we do likewise in these days.