In light of recent national events in the past year, I’m inserting an excerpt from my memoir on the state of paranoia I found myself in back in 2012. In context of the story, I am convicted on singing a song that references 2 Chronicles 7:14 because it leaves out the key to God’s healing of our country. But was my upset all just mental illness? Read and see for yourself.
It was a Wednesday night at choir practice. I was eager to correct the song we would sing the Sunday of the week of July Fourth. I knew the Bible verse it referenced left out the key to our country being healed. We may all want our country to be saved and made whole, but just crying out and turning to God wasn’t the complete picture. “Repent” wasn’t in the lyrics. I wasn’t going to sing if it was Biblically incorrect.
In a pause of the song, I felt it wasn’t right. Something nagged me – my conscience. When I hadn’t been noticed raising my hand, I swallowed hard and interrupted Pastor Dave, our choir director.
“Not to upset the apple cart, but there’s nothing about repentance in here.” The room grew quiet and the eyes of every person seemed to skewer my head as I fumbled around with the rest of the words trying to look cool.
Another soprano behind me pointed out the words “We are undone.” And were we ever. As the moment ended, Pastor signaled the piano player to take over, and he motioned me to come down the loft and speak with him outside the choir room. He pointed out all of the words and their placement, clearly embarrassed and trying to steer me back to the scripture.
“I can recompose the song, Pastor, if you have some time?” He ignored my comment, and a choir member came up beside me.
“Hey, Katie,” the fellow soprano said. “I want you to know I’ve been in the same position as you before. I felt convicted about a song and had to decide whether I should sing it or not. You’re very brave for standing up for your conviction.”
“Thanks, Teresa. Thanks, Pastor.” Discouraged, I went back into the room and joined the rest of the choir. My cheeks blushed and my temples tensed. After another song we headed to the sanctuary to sing with the orchestra. As everyone filed out of the choir room, I took a large breath and turned to prepare my purse and keys to leave early.
“C’mon, Katie,” someone said.
“Hey, Linda.” I caught my friend Linda’s attention and asked if I could talk privately.
“Hey,” she said.
Once the room emptied, I confessed. “I feel like I’m just trying to follow my convictions.”
“Is God telling you to rock the boat?” she asked.
“Well, yeah,” I said, immediately identifying with that conviction.
“Well, rock the boat.”
“Do you remember when Elijah had felt defeated because he was the only one to not bow to Baal? God said, ‘Elijah, you are not alone. I have seven thousand more men of mine that haven’t bowed the knee to Baal.’”
I thought about it, and it gave me more room to breathe.
“Why don’t you go home and unwind? Is there something you like to do to relax? Bubble bath? Light candles? Listen to music?”
“Yeah, and I have actually done some of that lately.”
“Well, there you go. Pray, you know? Let’s pray now.”
She and I prayed and hugged goodbye. The paranoia ensued.
Today, after spending time reading Jeremiah 4 and 5 this morning in my quiet time, and thereafter reading Matt Walsh’s blog post on the spiritual crisis of our nation, I am completed convicted. Maybe we really are a nation who has turned away from God and is a glutton for punishment. I haven’t really wanted to see it that way in the last few years, but could we at least be honest with ourselves in America, and be fed up of the finger-pointing and blame-shifting soundbites of “mental illness” and “gun control” and the blame-game spinning on the crazy cycle?
I realize the country I live in was established on the godly principals of our founding fathers’ creeds and it was all in mind to create the best government and nation ever seen. I also realize I have been guilty of being swayed by the worldview of our media and political works of men to read multiple sides of the stories we’re fed on our Facebook newsfeeds and get swept up in a sort of democratic free-for-fall, to let everyone have a voice and have their say.
But then I look to the word of God. Taking what I’m sure is Truth and aligning it with our current state of affairs in America, I am beginning to see the evidence of a nation badly in need of discipline, badly in need of justice, and badly in need of a Savior. We are not beyond salvation, but in terms of Biblical nations, if our America is anywhere near favored as Israel in God’s eyes, we must be fooling ourselves to think judgment is not near and has not been forewarned.
If we are so complacent and lulled into a spiritual sleep of continuing to live indifferently and so nearsighted concerning our flaws as a people, we are reaping what we have sown. Just like in Judges, our nation has done “whatever is right” in our sight. Just like in Jeremiah, our churches and priests “rule at their direction.” Have we not said in our hearts of God, “He will do nothing, no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine,”?? (Jeremiah 5:12)
Looking at Jeremiah 4 and 5, I could put “America” in place of “Israel” and it would seem to sum it up pretty well. It’s a cry for the nation of Israel to repent. As we see in 2 Chronicles 7:14, the nation that not only is called by the Lord’s name, but, “will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (emphasis added)
In our hearts, have any of us not yet collectively and individually, called on His name and humbled themselves to seek His face, but turned from our wicked ways? Repentance. Repentance. Repentance. I may have had a loose screw back in 2012 when I was on the edge of sanity and teetering toward zealous heresy, but maybe I was onto something. Do we all, as Americans, but more so as Christian Americans, need to actually repent of our nation’s evil? (That’s rhetorical) I think we see it as a tragedy or a breaking down of our moral fiber that once held our nation together. But have we actually thought of it in terms of a disgusting sinful state of our nation in relationship to God?
God implores His beloved people in the Old Testament to turn from and forsake their wicked ways. When was the last time you confessed your apathy toward the beloved country of America on behalf of her sinfulness and asked God’s forgiveness for the land we love? Furthermore, when was the last time you stood up and followed our Lord and Savior in obedience to do what He says, love others as ourselves, and care for those our neighbors enough to tell them (yes with words) and show them (with your actions) the love and gospel of Jesus Christ?
It starts with our heart agreeing with God’s, and then from there letting God use us to reach others. And transforming others will transform our nation. And transforming our nation in view of God’s commandments, will transform the world. We are to be salt and light. But I guess that I must start with myself. I must continue to be brave and stand up for my convictions, even the smallest ones. Not to be seen by others, but to be obedient to and honest with my God.
I long for a solid, stable future for my children and their children. I take my prescribed medication daily to keep that stability of my mind. I take my prescribed Bible reading daily to keep that stability of my heart and soul. I pray and hope and want to see a stable country that proclaims Jesus in her heart and laws and people. I fear, for just as Israel saw destruction as consequence of her disobedience, America is no more an exception to this rule than Israel was. America, turn and repent. Christian, take up your cross and follow. Lord, save and heal.