What Can I Do?

I graduated from high school in 1976. Look, I’ve already told you I’m a senior citizen.

We were just two years out from Nixon’s resignation, and a year out from the fall of Saigon.

You want to talk about turbulent times. I can tell you about turbulent times.

Also, get off my lawn.

I digress.

In 1976 much had been made of the coming Bicentennial Celebration. Everything, and I pretty much do mean everything, had a Bicentennial flair.

In our creative writing class, we wrote a skit about selling a bottle of “Bicentennial Air.”

Churches across the country found it a time to pray and turned to the book of 2 Chronicles.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2nd Chronicles 7:14

Churches later panicked when, just a few months later, Jimmy Carter narrowly defeated Gerald Ford.

Surely, the end times were upon us.

In the grand scheme of things, those were pretty simple times. Perhaps the worst things we really suffered were plaid polyester pants and disco.

In the spring of 1976 just a couple of months before graduation I, along with several classmates, stood on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol as members of the Virginia Model General Assembly.

We were all wearing plaid pants.

I do not miss the 70s.

Coincidentally and meaning nothing other than a bit of trivia, current Governor Ralph Northam was the Attorney General for that Assembly.

Today, and for an unspecified amount of time, the State Capitol grounds are closed to the public following the weekend’s violence.

Once again, perhaps it is time to turn to the book of 2nd Chronicles.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We could get into all kinds of theological discussions about whether or not that verse really applies to the church of today, and whether it applies to America.

But, let’s not.

Instead, we should focus on what it is. A call to prayer.

Far too often these days “thoughts and prayers” have been cheapened. It’s just something you say when you don’t know what else to say.

Maybe it’s been cheapened because we aren’t following through.

Yes, I went there.

I don’t know the answer to the current situation in our country. I know I can’t fix it.

And so, to a certain extent, I feel helpless.

Yelling on social media, unfollowing TONS of people, and even this post, aren’t going to fix it.

So, perhaps it’s time to actually put those “thoughts and prayers” into practice.

The government cannot solve this.

The military cannot solve this.

The social justice warriors cannot solve this.

The list goes on. Depending on where you stand you might see some on the list as the problem rather than the solution.

Where then, do we turn?

People of faith know that the obvious answer is to turn to prayer. However, far too often, we try to engineer the solution on our own.

Over the years there have been great periods of spiritual revival in this country and in other places around the world. These revivals often brought great social change…for the better. But they didn’t just happen.

Dr A. T. Pierson once said, “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.”

I am not a student of the great revivals, but I’ve heard many stories where this is indeed the case.

On a personal level, I know of the 1970 revival at what was then Asbury College (now University). One day a great revival came upon the students in chapel. That chapel service lasted for eight days. In the days and weeks to follow, people were drawn to the chapel and to repentance. Ministry teams went out around the world.

Many people who experienced that revival are still in ministry today.

You can learn a little about that revival here.

The Asbury Revival began with students meeting to pray in a classroom below the chapel. They met for weeks. Just for prayer. Then revival came.

I did not anticipate this post going in this direction. So, why am I here?

I am no great person of prayer. I fail daily.

But my faith tells me that prayer changes things. It certainly has a tendency to change the person doing the praying.

My faith also tells me that God hears our prayers. And I believe He answers.

No, not like Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty. We saw how that worked out.

God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like.

If you are a person of faith it is time to pray.

You can help things along by not sharing those hateful tweets or those irrational memes on Facebook, but at least take time to pray. And, maybe pray about what you’re posting.

Pray for this country.

Pray for the black community.

Pray for the police officers.

Pray for our leaders.

Pray that we would have leaders.

And yes, even pray for the protesters and the looters.

I’m not naïve enough to think that, if we all stopped to pray, that we’d wake up in the morning and everything would be all sunshine and lollipops.

I’m not naïve enough to think that suddenly our land will be healed.

Maybe instead we can begin a healing in our own hearts.

That’s where it has to start anyway.

Back in the 70s a lot of church music was written by John W. Peterson and Don Wyrtzen. If you were in a choir in those decades, you probably sang their songs.

Together they wrote a musical called “I Love America.” Yes, the musical is flag waving and all red, white, and blue. Everything in 1976 was red, white, and blue.

Still, I’ve always loved the sentiment of a song near the close of the musical.

I’d hoped to find a version that was a little less schmaltzy, and a little less syrupy. But that’s what our music was in the 70s.

If you grew up in church, especially an evangelical church, you’ve more than once heard the “special music” singer say “just listen to the words.”

So, just listen to the words.

And pray.

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash



    • Lisa on June 2, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I do remember Bicentennial Air! Maybe they were simpler times, or perhaps the lantern shines brightly from the stern as we stand at the bow facing the darkness of these uncertain days. Either way, it is good to read your words, old friend.

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