What do you ponder in your heart – faithfully, fearfully – for America, as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day? This story stirred for July 4 while decorating the window at The Learning Station on June 14. Justifying not writing it (doing what the Holy Spirit nudged me to do) was easy, since my July 4 story had been submitted weeks earlier. The urge to write this message grew stronger while walking on the beach as the splendor of His sunrise overcame darkness and lit my sandy path. Signs of God’s power and promise pounded as my pace increased. A song I learned in youth choir at Union Grove Church under Mrs. Sybil and Mrs. Faye’s leadership in 1968 spewed forth like the foam from breaking waves. I sang in unison with the sounds of the sea, “Who made the mountains and who made the trees, who made the rivers that flow to the sea, and who hung the moon in the starry sky? Somebody bigger than you and I!
Every word brought conviction of a nation who has turned away from saluting and serving God. Tears wet my face as I sang louder and walked faster “He lights the way when the road is long and keeps you company. With love to guide you, He walks beside you, just like He walks with me. When I am weary filled with despair, who gives me courage to go on from there and who sends the rain when the earth is dry? Somebody bigger than you and I! “
The sun burst into color, clouds formed amazing signs, waves pounded against my legs for I had drifted into the water while singing, birds sang their songs, and raindrops fell from His big blue sky. Signs of Somebody Bigger than you and I surrounded me, with good news like the dove who delivered a sign to Noah.
Rising early for a walk by the sea showed His splendor as far as I could see. God has not changed, have we? God continues to give His best while we water down His Word, whittle His presence from places where people have decided He shouldn’t be – but He should, and weed out prayer so no one will be offended. Have we offended God by leaving Him out?
We are wise to honor He who controls those waves and keeps that sun in space, sends rain and heals our bodies and hearts that He put in place. He is bigger than politics and policies that push Him aside for votes or vetoes from folks who do not believe. He is bigger than rituals or religions that mock His Son or people who play around with sin and casually call on Him without knowing Him and showing Him love and loyalty. God is saddened when we fail to salute Him as Lord and Savior; yet, He is still waiting to live in hearts and homes, forgive and forget transgressions, bring peace and promise to His broken, burdened children, and heal the land we call home, sweet, home. Yes, God is bigger than anything and anyone; He can turn things around in our world.
Now is truly the time for all Christians to come to the aid of our country. Rising up with courage and conviction can change things. Letting our voices ring loud and clear with love and loyalty for Thee, from sea to shining sea, can make a difference. Getting up early, finding quiet places to pray during the day, or staying up late to commune with Christ can bring changes, revival, fresh waves of standing on His promises that will sweep our land like the wildfires raging in the west. Are you willing to rise up for Somebody bigger than you and I who made us and matters most?
Being an even earlier riser in the sunset years of my life is awesome. Surely, every night owl reading this story says the same about blessings received in the wee hours of the night. Yet, rising early to spend time with Jesus and recount love for the good life He gives here, while believing the best is yet to come, gives unspeakable JOY! Some things I am learning to give up as old age settles in and ‘things aren’t the way they used to be’ (you know what I mean if you’re over the hill), but morning time with Jesus is precious and protected (sometimes 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes hours) according to schedules and situations.
When my feet hit the floor, I kneel beside my bed, thanking God for a good night’s sleep and seeking guidance for another day. With coffee in hand and Christ in heart, I settle down for a good time with me and Thee in special spots all over my home, especially my war room. Just like good times spent with loved ones, some morning times are short and sweet, some grueling and gut wrenching, some long and lovely, but they’re always special and satisfying. Staying connected and constantly ‘checking in’ ensures closeness with the Lord and loved ones. Yet, we must continuously resist the devil who schemes to separate us from Father and family while stealing, killing, and destroying. So, listening and responding to the Holy Spirit, the Helper Jesus promised would come to lead and live in our hearts, is vital for happy living! Keeping commitments to commune with Christ makes good sense. Life is good when God comes first and everything else falls into place per His plans for our purpose.
Is God first in the hearts and homes of Americans as we prepare to celebrate 240 years of freedom in a nation where founding fathers declared religious freedom and honored Him as our cornerstone? Where is God in our celebrations, our day to day struggles and quest for survival in a land where the sun still rises and goodness grows from sea to shining sea? Bad news beams into hearts and homes by every means of communication possible. Constant feeding of horrible things happening and saturation of sinful living have calloused hearts and dulled senses to the wonder working power of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Good news is still happening but does not make headlines with continuous coverage. I believe people are hungry to see and read good news stories. God is still in control and close to those whose hearts are open for Jesus to dwell within and lives are centered around Him.
God has not changed. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, even though we see what Revelation warns in end times when ‘right will seem wrong and wrong will seem right’! Prime time television mocks the Master. Socially accepted sin saddens our Savior. Yet, God still loves His children, hears our cries, answers prayers, gives second chances, forgives, forgets our transgressions, heals our hearts, binds our wounds, keeps His promises, walks and talks with us, yearns for us to come home to Him as did the prodigal son, protects and blesses us beyond measure, is sad when we leave Him out and grieve the Spirit, is disappointed when we put other Gods before Him and live without Him in our hearts and homes, and warns that our actions have consequences. Living without God first in our lives ‘footloose and fancy free’ is foolish. Let us stand strong in faith with commitment to Christ, for God can turn things around!
God stirred this story as I stapled a huge American flag to the white fence at The Learning Station on Flag Day. Aunt Ema gave me the flag that draped her husband’s casket, honoring his service to America, and has been displayed in our windows, honoring America, for 23 years.
This year a sadness settled inside as I stapled it to the white fence. I stood in the window up close and personally surveying the wonder of our flag. I thought of Betsy Ross sewing it by hand, George Washington planting it with a Christian stand, lives lost protecting it in foreign lands, people burning it and places where it is banned…and my heart hurt with a nagging pain for relief and revival in our land.
Taking time to survey my flag (our American flag) and spend time reflecting its significance, instead of stapling it in place hurriedly with little thought of what it represents touched me deeply. I ran my fingers across the stars with thoughts of 50 states unified by this flag and our heavenly Father’s Hand and 13 stripes that share the courage of colonies willing to take a stand. Then, I noticed big holes where I pounded staples to keep it in place and faded colors that took away the splendor of our grand ole’ flag. So, I had a great idea of turning it around where one couldn’t see the holes and the colors were still bold. And I did!
When I stepped outside to see how it looked, I gasped! It was backwards with the stars on the wrong side. Scurrying inside to get our flag fixed, my heart stirred to leave it alone and share a message that will hopefully ring in every heart from sea to shining sea this Independence Day.
America’s love and loyalty to our Father God has faded with holes in our honor for His Word and ways. The land of the brave and free is endangered. God warns in His Word what happens to the nations who forget Him as first love. Are we any different than Sodom and Gomorrah? Would we be considered luke-warm, prideful, puffed up, or one nation under God with love and loyalty for Him, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us? Let’s stand up for Jesus, pray, love one another, get revived, let our lights shine, and believe in God to turn America around.
Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.