We human beings have never been really good at keeping the covenants we make with God or with each other. Noah had a drinking problem, and Abraham passed his wife off as his sister out of fear of a pagan king. Americans declared all men are created equal and then pretended blacks and Indians were not really people in order to justify enslaving and brutalizing them. In each case, the people sinning were doing what they thought they had to do in the absence of a God Who is anything but absent. The good news is we can know and serve a loving God who permits and even encourages do-overs. The do-overs are called repentance.
Repentance means to turn about. It includes turning away from our covenant–breaking ways, but it centers on turning toward and refocusing on God and the promises we and He have exchanged. Part of the reason God never abandoned us over – for example – slavery is the reality that a substantial minority of Americans saw it for the evil it was and worked tirelessly to replace it with the authentic vision of equality expressed in the Declaration and Constitution. It is axiomatic that God never abandons a city or nation for its evil, but only when there is no critical mass of righteous ones with whom He can work. Check the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses bargaining with God for the preservation of apostate Israel in the wilderness, or even Elijah complaining in his little cave.
There exists a grassroots ministry called The National Day of Repentance. Less than two years old and launched by word of mouth and a fledgling (at the time) web site, it is now operating in more than forty states and thirty nations. The sole purpose of this ministry is to encourage Christians to re-focus our attention on God and His covenant with us – as though that were more important than restoring our constitution and nation – because it is. We also happen to believe wholeheartedly that this re-focus on covenant will lead to the restoration of constitution and nation one way or another. That is the way things happened in the Bible. That is the way things happened in American history as well, from the first Great Awakening that enabled the American Revolution and the documents that framed it, to the second that enabled the end of slavery, to the third that brought the success of the Civil Rights Movement and the advent of Morning in America under Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
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The next scheduled National Day of Repentance is April 30 – the anniversary of George Washington’s First Inaugural that he personally bathed in prayer, and of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 called-for Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Humiliation. (Funny how two of our founding fathers most associated with no real faith – by some foolish scholars – are the most pronounced in their calling on God for His mercy over the nation.) The web site – no longer fledgling – is www.dayofrepentance.org. Any who wish to participate need only engage in some act of corporate re-focus on God on that day, or beginning on that day. Those who represent a Christian ministry of any sort are invited to go on the web site, accept the incredibly generic statement of faith, and post their activity in case others might take inspiration from knowing about it.
In California, the drought is being addressed by the Rain and Reign Coalition, a gathering of some forty ministries that cross denominational lines and pray for the growing of repentant and refocused hearts across the state. We repent and turn away daily the shedding of innocent blood, the idolatry of human reason, sexual infidelity and perversion, and the breaking of covenant from treaties to families. We repent daily for God’s mercy in breaking the high pressure ridge that holds back the rain and the highly pressured hearts that hold back the prosperity and joy that is His promise for California. Any wishing to participate can begin to pray daily as we do.
Some – perhaps many – see this as pious tripe. Good enough. How have our efforts worked out for us the past decade or so? In Jeremiah 31, God promises a new covenant written on every human heart that turns to Him and promises to bring all of His blessings to bear through those hearts. He makes the same promises in Isaiah 59, Ezekiel 11, and Joel 2 and 3. They are always preceded by a period of repentance – that we might be enabled to receive Him. It is the same with every American Awakening. What have we got to lose?
Encouragement comes in the next posting.
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