Chaos. Crime. Corruption. Shootings. Terrorism. Political upheaval. Racial strife. Economic catastrophe. Family breakdown. Societal unrest. Moral disintegration.
Does it feel like our communities, culture, nation and world are coming apart at the seams? Does it seem like everyday we wake up to another crisis that threatens you, your family or our nation? If you are a business owner or an employee, does it feel like even your livelihood is at risk?
Are there any solutions to the seemingly insurmountable and existential problems facing us?
Is there anyone who can really bring the dissension, turmoil, chaos, and violence to an end via some new solutions that have yet to be revealed?
Has this kind of scenario ever been experienced by our nation in the past? If so, when and how did our countrymen respond?
Truthfully, our nation has faced similar challenges in the past, including what seemed like overwhelming cultural degradation and moral depravity, with men and women showing little care or respect for others or God.
Specifically, in the early 1700’s Americans were living in darkness. Political leaders were corrupt. The King was oppressive. The culture was coarse. Morals were exceedingly low. The Church was weak and anemic with those Christians who did attend church having little impact on those around them, preferring to keep their beliefs to themselves and within the four walls of the church.
The outlook for the colonies was bleak.
And yet, a group of men and women, seeing the moral and spiritual condition around them, began to earnestly pray for revival in the colonies over the course of years. They understood the truth that there is no political or economic solution for a heart problem. There’s so much more to the story of the First Great Awakening, led by men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John & Charles Wesley. But the truth is the entire course of our nation was changed because people prayed, God moved and individuals responded. In fact, millions of individuals and families were transformed because of the restoration of their hearts back to God.
But it was less than 100 years later, and once again Americans fell back into their old ways. Quoting from Joel Rosenberg’s book Implosion we see this:
“Following the Revolutionary War, America experienced a period of moral decline. Spiritual devotion waned and social problems proliferated. From the late 1770’s until the late 1820’s, per capita consumption of alcohol in America rose dramatically, to about four or five times what it is today… The social consequences were predictable. Illegitimate births were rampant. Thomas Paine was proclaiming Christianity was dead — and certainly the body of faith appeared to be in a coma. Yet even as church rolls were shrinking and greed, sensuality and family breakdown were becoming widespread, America was about to experience a great spiritual revival.
“Slowly at first, then building over the next several decades, one wave of spiritual renewal and religious rededication after another swept the country, in what historians now call America’s ‘Second Great Awakening.’ In one community after another, people began to wake up from their moral and spiritual slumber as though saying, ‘If we’re going to have a self-governing nation, it must be occupied by self-governing people.’ Within one generation, alcohol consumption fell by two-thirds.”
It’s worthwhile to note that the common thread between both the First and Second Great Awakenings was prayer. Men and women, recognizing that there is a God in heaven who cares infinitely about the affairs of men, began to call out to Him in prayer with great diligence, urgency and consistency. And as they prayed and followed God’s leading, He answered their prayers in a glorious and supernatural manner, and the hearts of Americans were turned back to God.
As we fast forward to 2016, we see a nation whose future is becoming more and more bleak. Just as in our past, greed, sensuality, family breakdown, racial strife and violence characterize our nation. Political leaders, whether democrats, republicans or independents, all profess to hold the magic ointment to heal all of our woes. And yet, as we continue to place our hopes in a political figure or party, we see how consistent they are in failing us.
Following this week’s shootings of eleven Dallas police officers, with five of them dying, the video interview below of Kellon Nixon, a witness of the shootings, is particularly relevant to this discussion. I would encourage you to listen to the entire video but here are a few highlights of Kellon’s thoughts:
When asked by the MSNBC reporter, “How are you today?” Kellon responded:
“Today I am recovering spiritually. Last night, when you start to see the shooting… you start to think, ‘It’s me against the world.’ But with that type of mentality we’ll implode as a people, not as ethnicity, but as a people, period. We’re all one race at the end of the day… We have to be a Christian nation. We have to be governed by a higher authority. We can see what governing ourselves has proved… The best thing we can do is to value lives over the economy. I think that is one of our biggest problems in America. The economy is stronger than our moral fiber. Our desire for prosperity is so much greater than our desire to be moral, to be humane, to love, to care, that we’ll risk our children or the sanctity of marriage, just for money, just to stay on top as a nation. When we lose our hearts, when we lose our souls, we’re really at the bottom. We’re the worst of people, no matter how materially rich we are.”
Did you catch that? Losing our hearts and souls? I believe Mr. Nixon has hit on the crux of the challenge we face. We as a people have lost our heart and soul, and consequently we have seen the crumbling of a once great nation.
But just as our countrymen of prior centuries realized, there is a path back to God. And it begins in Prayer and a change of my heart and yours.
Our political leaders have no answers to the unsolvable problems of our day. Given that the root of the problem is the heart and spiritual in nature, we will remain disillusioned if we simply look horizontally for fixes.
The only solution to the vexing problems of our day is to bow our heads while directing our hearts upward towards heaven.
Psalm 20:7 instructs us of this truth: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
What is your chariot? In what are you trusting? Who are you looking to for the solutions to your problems? If it’s someone other than God, then you will remain disappointed and unfulfilled, with no hope.
As the famous revivalist Gypsy Smith would say, “Do you really want to see a revival begin? Draw a circle around you on the floor. Then get down on your knees in the middle of the circle and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle. When you do that, and God answers, you are experiencing the start of a revival.”
So how about it? Must we wait for more lives lost? For more economic collapse? For more violence? For more dissension? For more political corruption and disappointments? For more moral decline?
Or can you and I, individually, persistently and urgently call out to the God in heaven with this prayer:
“God, forgive me. Change me. Revive me. Show me. Strengthen me.”
And then get up, go out and begin to share our commitment with others, encouraging them to join us in their own personal restoration with God.
And when we do this, we will know this truth from Daniel 2:28: “There is a God in heaven…“ and He holds the answers to our deepest problems and struggles.