Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#76

I confess – I thought I would have written my last Corona Chronicle by now and would be back to writing about those everyday miracles amid the mundane.  I miss the mundane, those days when every moment wasn’t a national crisis.  Those days when my focus was on family and friends and faith and creating and building up and missions and making the world a better place – well that’s where my focus remains but it seems more difficult to stay focused on those things when the environment in which we currently live is now filled with fear, requiring a survival mode mentality, if I allow current events to dictate my perspective.

And let’s face it, we can’t escape what has been going on around us, COVID-19 and the riots both impact our daily lives in ways we may not even be aware of right now, but from the perspective of hindsight, we may eventually come to understand.  I think we are all going to have PTSD when this is over.  We have grown used to living in crisis mode with disaster looming around every corner.

Things once taken for granted, like sports, are no longer available to us as a diversion, a temporary escape and brief respite from reality when we most need them.  Other diversions such as plays, concerts, movies, fairs, theme parks, zoos, museums etc have also been closed to us during this time or are limited in their availability as they attempt to reopen.

Maybe we will all have more empathy for and understanding of our veterans and what they experience when they return home from wherever they have been serving our country.  We may not realize the constant stress we are under until it is removed.  Right now the threat of COVID-19 dictates every decision, permeates every personal experience (or lack thereof, as in person experience has been replaced by online experience) and hovers continuously over our heads as we go about our days.

There is no escape from COVID.  We are constantly reminded of this ever present danger by news updating new cases, events continuing to be cancelled, restrictions ramped up, and masks everywhere we look, making it impossible to forget that we are at risk every time we leave home and even at home because we bring things from the outside (such as food) into our home.

This is a war, as has been said before by many fighting this virus on the front lines. I am definitely experiencing combat fatigue.  These words from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, even though written two thousand years ago, describe my feelings today.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

That says it all, doesn’t it?  The life and death struggle that plays out before us every day and also plays out within us, within our very bodies.  It is good for me to remember again today that I am not crushed, I am not despairing, I am not abandoned, I am not destroyed (even when I am down).

For me, I take particular consolation in the truth that I am not abandoned, I am not alone.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  (Psalm 23:4-5)

This truth is too wonderful for words.  I don’t have to be afraid, I will fear no evil, that “no evil” includes riots and COVID and anything else this world will come up with.  My Heavenly Father is with me, His presence comforts me, provides for me (He prepares a table for me) and protects me from my enemies.  Even in this time when I am hard pressed on every side, my cup overflows.

so again today, I will say,  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us (me) rejoice and be glad in it.”    (Psalm 118:24)

sincerely,       Grace Day







Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#75

I confess – my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.  I guess that would explain why I wear glasses.  My glasses enable me to read the small print I wouldn’t be able to read otherwise but still I feel my sight isn’t perfect.  I often don’t see people or events clearly, or as clearly as I wish I could see them.  Although, like everyone else, my hindsight is always perfect.

I want to see other people as God sees them, but how do I do that?  God’s vision is so superior to mine.  1 Samuel 16:7 provides this explanation,

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

If only I had God’s x-ray vision!  “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  (Hebrews 4:13)

God sees it all.  No one escapes His notice, no one is invisible to Him.  In Matthew 10 we are told not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His notice.  In Genesis 16:7 we read, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert;”.  This prompted Hagar to say of God, ” ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ ”    (Genesis 16:13)

Not only did God see Hagar, there would come a time when He would help her to see Him and to see her surroundings.  She was again in the desert with her son, Ishmael.  “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.”  (Genesis 21:19)  God opened her eyes and saved her life.

God helped Elisha’s servant to see when he was afraid of what he saw, which was horses and chariots surrounding the city where they were.  But Elisha told him, “‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’  Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”   (2 Kings 6:16-17)

God can help me to see what I don’t see on my own but need to see nonetheless.  It is a matter of where I fix my gaze.  “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

That’s what God sees when He looks at me, the eternal part of me, not the temporal.  When I look at others with my human eyes, I see the temporal, not the eternal.  But God can help me to see the eternal in others, to see as He sees.

God opened Hagar’s eyes, He opened Elisha’s servant’s eyes, He opened Paul’s eyes by first making him blind.  God can open my eyes and my heart if I allow Him to guide my gaze from the temporal to the eternal.

This certainly is a time when we all need to view each other through a clearer, kinder, more grace filled lens.  We need to see ourselves and each other as God sees us – as His image bearers, as His dearly loved children.  We need to see beyond the outward appearance of a person into their heart.  Too bad there aren’t glasses that could help me with that kind of vision.

My prayer is that of the psalmist in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”

Ultimately, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  (Antoine de Saint Exupery)

so maybe it’s my heart that needs glasses more than my eyes do?

sincerely,      Grace Day






C.C. America the beautiful #74

There are certain things we carry with us for life – memories, words, tunes, images that stay long past their time, lingering somewhere in the hidden parts of the heart, living buried beneath the current cares of the day.  Sometimes however, they surface unbidden, these forgotten treasures time has left for lost.  Such are the words that come so clearly to my mind, words that walk with me through these days now filled with COVID and chaos.

“Oh, beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years.  Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!  America!  America!  God shed His grace on thee  . . .”   I remember singing these words in elementary school choir.  I remember wondering what “alabaster” was.  But even then, I knew what a patriot was.  We had studied Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death” and Nathan Hale, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

I had learned about Crispus Attucks, a sailor and rope maker, who became the first martyr for the American cause when he was killed March 5th, 1770, the first to die in the Boston Massacre.  He was a former slave, one of what is estimated to be between five and eight thousand Black Americans who fought on the Patriot side against the British crown during the years of the Revolutionary War.

Perhaps I feel a particular connection to this proud patriot because I work at a high school that bears his name and has a legacy of achievement and success. Salem Poor is another American patriot, most remembered for his heroism at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Poor, who had been born a slave, eventually purchased his freedom for twenty-seven pounds and later joined the fight for American independence from Britain.

Perhaps the patriot, the person, I most identify with though, is Phillis Wheatley. She published a book of poetry in 1773, becoming the third woman and the first Black American to do so in our nation.  Her writing “carried strong messages against slavery and became a rallying cry for Abolitionists:  . . .   She also advocated for independence, artfully expressing support for George Washington’s Revolutionary War in her poem  . . . ”   It was said of Phillis Wheatley that she “was a revolutionary intellectual who waged a war for freedom with her words.” That’s my kind of woman!  I want to follow in her footsteps!

Yes, I understood patriotism and sacrifice even then.  My grandfather had served in the South Pacific during World War 2.  John F. Kennedy’s words “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, inspired a new generation of patriots while Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” spurred us all to press on until the words of the Declaration of Independence should become a reality for every single American.

I am wondering where they are now, the patriots, for such a time as this?  Now that we are so close, so much closer than we were, why are they so silent?  The words to the song continue in my mind.  “Oh beautiful for heroes proved, In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!”  There’s that self sacrifice again, by sacrificing for something greater than themselves, patriots past have left us their legacy.

What are we doing to honor their memory?  Is the dream Martin Luther King spoke so eloquently about now dead?  Never to be realized as we abandon all that is good and descent in favor of tyranny and rule by terror.  Are people now too afraid to stand up and speak out for what is right?

“America the Beautiful” was written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893 and first published in 1895.  While hiking in the mountains of Colorado, she saw first hand the beauty of the landscape.  “Inspired by that, and by her desire for equality, she wrote the poem, ‘America the Beautiful.’  In it, she showcased her love and hopes for her country.”

Even in 1895, the author was talking about “liberating strife.”  She knew there were those still striving for their freedom, even after the Emancipation Proclamation had become a reality years earlier.  (1863)  These words from the song are particularly telling.  “Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern, impassioned stress, a thoroughfare of freedom beat across the wilderness! America!  America!  God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”

Those words from 1893 are meaningful still.  Today, the truth that our laws, as written into our constitution and our Bill of Rights, provide us our liberties, our protections, our freedoms – is under attack.  The author of this song loved this country while at the same time recognizing that there were things wrong that needed to be righted.  Hence the line, “God mend thine every flaw.”

Katharine Bates shows us that we can see what is wrong within our country and love her at the same time.  We can do both.  We don’t have to be blind to her faults to love her and to stand up for her.  (We continue to love our children when they do wrong, but we endeavor to help them to change and to do better.  We don’t give up on them)   It is precisely because we love our country that we fight for her and we fight to make her a better place for everyone who lives within her borders.

Our past has proven that we can do this, especially if we fight together instead of fighting each other.  We want the same things – peace, prosperity, the freedom to work and to worship as we choose without government interference.  Where are those “alabaster cities gleaming, undimmed by human tears” that Bates wrote about?  What did the author see as she wrote those words in 1893?  Did she see what was or what could be?  Was her gaze on the present?  Or was she looking into the future seeing what America could become?

There have been plenty of human tears over the years since Bates penned those words.  And there are more than enough tears being shed on a daily basis currently as our cities burn down before our eyes (Portland -61 days of violence continuing right now) and people continuing to die day after day from gun violence in our city streets.  Bates knew the alabaster cities of her song held human tears, but she acknowledged they also held forth the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – a promise so powerful as to be still gleaming, undimmed by human tears.  

There is no liberty without law.  Right now people are not free to walk the streets of their own cities without fear.  It is incomprehensible that we are witnessing protesters and politicians attack and tear down the very country that protects them as they do so, the very country that provides them the education and the opportunity to pursue their own path and to succeed.

If freedom falls here, to where will we flee?  Our country was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  Today we find ourselves again “engaged in a great civil war, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”   (Gettysburg Address)

This battle is for the hearts and the minds of every American.  Deception is the weapon of choice and truth is the only antidote to the deadly poison of lies and deceit that is being poured out continuously over our nation.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32)  Interesting how truth is a prerequisite for freedom, isn’t it?  without truth freedom cannot flourish –

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,”  (Psalm 33:12)

“And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”   (Micah 6:8)

justice, mercy and humility – Lord, help me practice these today and everyday –

sincerely,       Grace Day













Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#73

“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’ ”  (Psalm 122:1)

It is Sunday again, another Sunday in the era of COVID.  I have lost count of how many Sundays have come and gone.  But today I was in the house of the Lord and it was good to be there.  Actually we have been gathering for worship for the past five Sundays, restoring to this day of the week its rightful place of prominence as the Lord’s day.

It was good to sit in the old, familiar sanctuary surrounded by stained glass and singing souls, (well music was playing and words were heard, muffled though they were through the masks we all wore.)

Today, I was glad and I am sad, simultaneously.  God’s house is open once again. Gladness.  It is not full, as it has been pre-COVID.  We sit separately, spaced purposefully with distance dividing us, which is easy to do with few people and much space.  Sadness.

There is a silence present today, a silence not normally present in this church of formerly wild, unabashed, unashamed, unrestrained worshipers – a silence that is out of place in this sanctuary where we saved sinners come together to celebrate our salvation and praise God who gave us this priceless gift.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.”   (Psalm 100:1-2)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:4-6)

The sound of singing – the shouting for joy – that’s what is missing this morning. Our muted, muffled, muddled, masked voices are just not the same.  Apparently others feel it too, and silence ensues.  Masks have a way of muzzling people, rendering them silent and anonymous.

I have never missed smiles more than in this era of mandated masks.  It’s true we often don’t realize the value of something until it is taken from us and this would be one of those examples.  The smiles of other people, those I know and those I don’t know but simply pass by on the street or in a store, both have the power to brighten my day, to change my day, to lift me up, to make me feel connected to others in this world in which I live –

And I like to think my smile given to an anonymous stranger or to a friend, has the same power to positively affect them.  Masks have removed from us our ability, our opportunity, to give and to receive this daily gift of smiles.  And ironically, this is the very time when we all need a smile and the good will it extends to another, more than ever before.

Masks are now one more barrier to be overcome in communicating with others. Those who depended on lip reading to supplement their hearing deficit are definitely at a disadvantage right now as are those who wear hearing aides since masks muffle the speaker’s voice.

And so today, as we sit in this sanctuary, a bunch of socially distanced, masked individuals, come to worship in community with each other, we are confronted with the visible reminders of the separation that is being required of us at this time.

Today there is no greeting of the fellowship or testimony of the word, parts of the service that bring us closer together as we get to know one another and share in each others’ lives.  I confess – glad as I am to be here, I am also sad for what has been lost in the effort to comply with all necessary guidelines.

Still, in Luke 19:40, Jesus told the Pharisees who had asked His disciples to quiet down, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

All creation is singing God’s praises continually.  Our silence doesn’t diminish this chorus in the least.  But we miss out on the opportunity to gather and give God glory, joining with others, kind of a foreshadowing of the heavenly chorus to which we will one day belong.

In Hebrews 8:5, we read about an earthly sanctuary, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  That is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ ”

So I know that this earthly sanctuary in which I sit today is just a shadow, a copy of what will be in heaven.  Still, my hope is that my church (and all churches) will again be full of people, filled with song and hugs and handshakes and smiling faces, as we behold each other face to face once again.

Moses knew the importance of the face to face encounter.  Exodus 33:11 tells us, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” There is something personal and vulnerable and powerful about the face to face interaction that is lacking when our faces are covered.

Still, there will come a day when what is hidden will be revealed.  We will no longer feel the need of wearing a mask, whether a literal mask or the metaphorical masks we each wear far more often than we want to admit.  The former we wear to protect us from illness, the latter we wear to protect our true identities, to protect us from the pain of being seen too clearly and rejected.  But a day will come when neither kind of mask is needed any longer.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

fully seen, fully known, fully accepted –

sincerely,       Grace Day








Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#72

They moved the finish line again.  (if there even is a finish line)  Actually, the finish line has been moved so many times already that I have lost count.  And I confess – I am weary of this never ending race, this race without a finish line, or at least a finish line in sight, this race that I never signed up for, this race that I find myself in nonetheless, this race against COVID-19, this race that is my life, this race we all call life.

Or maybe I’ve always been in the race but the mile markers were predictable and the course was fairly level and safe and the scenery even enjoyable at times, until now.  But now I’ve hit a rough patch unlike any I’ve experienced before.  This part of the course is difficult.  It is dark and it is dangerous and it is steep and it is rocky and I cannot find my footing.  I cannot see my way forward.

No wonder I am weary.  The race has gotten rougher, the terrain tougher, the incline increased and no end or respite on the horizon.  How do I continue this race under these conditions when I really want to quit?  Hebrews 12:1-3 has some good advice to encourage me in running this earthly race,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

So lots of good suggestions there.  First, throw off whatever is weighing me down.  I am to travel light.  Then I am told to persevere, to keep running.  Now that’s easier said than done.  But next comes something key, something that will enable me to persevere.  I’m told where to fix my eyes.

In other words, where I am looking, to what or to whom, makes all the difference in how I run this race.  My feet will follow where my vision leads.  Wherever my faith fixes my gaze, that will determine my destination.  I am told to “fix my eyes on Jesus”.  Arriving at the place that He is preparing for me even now becomes my finish line.  And that’s a finish line that no one can move or take away from me.

If I am to run this race well, it is essential that I keep my eyes fixed on the One who is my Savior, Redeemer and Friend.  If I don’t, like Peter walking toward Jesus on the rough waters of the Galilean Sea, I will stumble and fall, just as Peter began to sink into the sea when he took his eyes off of Jesus.

Fortunately for me, when I do fall, as I so often do, Jesus is the “lifter of my head.” He helps me to refocus my vision on Him and enables me to persevere in the race He has marked out for me.  “But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”  (Psalm 3:3)

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”   (Habakkuk 3:19)

As I am currently on steep, rocky terrain on this leg of the race, those words from Habakkuk are just what I need to hear and remember when I feel overcome with weariness.  I also take encouragement from Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, (or have finished the race) or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So there it is, words of wisdom from the coach to the runner.  “Forget what is behind”, leave the past in the past, don’t look back (every runner and swimmer knows looking back slows you down) but facing forward, “press on toward the goal”, until I cross that finish line (which is not even in sight right now) and win the prize God is keeping secure for me until that day when by faith and perseverance I do arrive at that finish line.

As I walk weary today, these words comfort, encourage and sustain me as I continue on the path God continually prepares before me,

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Because of my Heavenly Father’s all sufficient grace – I will renew my strength, I will walk, I will run, I will soar – I will one day cross the finish line – I will finish this race victorious.

sincerely,        Grace Day






C.C. the virtue signaler #71

I confess – I can be slow to add new words to my vocabulary but in these current times of COVID and culture war, three words or terms have become inescapable as they are now front and center as a very visible (audible?) part of the vocabulary of our nation’s daily dialogue.  These words are “woke”, “cancel culture” and “virtue signaling.”

In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon says “there is nothing new under the sun.”  So I’m wondering if these three terms are really that new or are they just old ideas given a new name and label?  History does tend to repeat itself, probably because human nature doesn’t change even though the times we live in do.

Greed still battles with generosity, what is false still fights to obliterate what is true, cruelty still endeavors to overpower kindness, selfishness still struggles with self-sacrifice, pride takes root to win out over humility, oppression continues to war against freedom, cowardice strives against courage, doubt seeks to extinguish faith, indifference seeks to replace compassion, hate attempts to hold our hearts hostage, leaving no room for love, and evil attempts to overcome all that is good, while we humans continue to be our own worst enemies.

No wonder we are at war with each other.  We are first and foremost at war within ourselves and that unresolved battle for who we are, for our identities, for our minds and for our hearts spills over into our interactions with others.  God gave us the two most important commands – love Him first and foremost, and then love other people.  No qualifiers on that second one.  Not certain people, not people who meet certain criteria, just people – period.

One of the weapons in our current culture war is virtue signaling.  I thought this was something new, but then I remembered the story in Luke 18 about the Pharisee who went to the temple to pray.  Now the Pharisees were the religious leaders in Jesus’s day.  They made a great show of observing all the laws and of practicing their religion publicly.  Pharisees were the ultimate virtue signalers. 

In this particular story, a Pharisee stands up in the temple in front of the gathered crowd and prays, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  (Luke 18:11-12)

Wow!  This guy is the poster person for virtue signaling.  He is a master virtue signaler for sure.  He compares himself with others to their detriment and to his advantage, and he makes sure to enumerate his virtues, such as fasting and the giving of his money, so that everyone listening to him pray will know for sure just what a good guy he really is.  This Pharisee leaves nothing to chance.  He throws down the virtue gauntlet.  

But what happens next in this story is not what we would expect, dear readers. The next guy up, who is a tax collector, of all things, (remember tax collectors were hated, despised and ostracized by the current culture) but anyway, this guy does not pick up the virtue gauntlet!  In the ensuing silence you can actually hear the watching, listening crowd gasp.

Instead, “But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ ”  (Luke 18:13)

Pretty much the opposite of virtue signaling.  I guess the tax collector recognized that he had no virtue to signal.  He knew the truth of Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”

Instead he “kept it real” as my students would say.  The result?   Here’s what Jesus had to say about the Pharisee and the tax collector.

“I tell you that this man, (the tax collector) rather than the other, (the Pharisee) went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”    (Luke 18:14)

So is virtue signaling really necessary?  Here’s what Jesus had to say on this very current topic in Matthew 6:1,

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Well, that’s pretty clear.  But Jesus had even more to say about the Pharisees, those who were the virtue signalers of His day.  In Matthew 23:3-7 he said,

” . . .   they do not practice what they preach.  They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  Everything they do is done for men to see:  They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ ”

Jesus wasn’t fooled by the virtue signaling of these religious leaders because He looked beyond their outward appearance and saw straight into their hearts. Jesus made this clear when He said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28,

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

In the same way, Jesus doesn’t look on my outward appearance.  Jesus looks straight into my heart.  I can’t hide my true self from Him.  I can’t hide my true identity from Him. (probably because He is the Creator of my identity and I find my identity in Him)

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  (Hebrews 4:13)

” . . .   and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;”  (Isaiah 64:6)

I realize I have no virtue to signal, so I have no business participating in virtue signaling.  Rather I want to pray along with the tax collector, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

I want to pray along with the thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  (Luke 23:42)

And I will hear His gentle, convicting, reassuring reply,

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”   (Isaiah 1:18)

Even though I have no virtue of my own, my Heavenly Father will credit His own righteousness to me, just as He did to Abraham.

“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  (Genesis 15:6)

that’s all the virtue I will ever have or ever need, just what is provided for me by my Heavenly Father –

sincerely,       Grace Day

ps.   looks like “woke” and “cancel culture” will be another post.
















C.C. identity & ideology #70

I hear a lot about identity lately.  Identity theft is a huge problem and an ever present threat.  People seem to be always searching for their identity, trying to “find” themselves.  I hear statements such as “I identify as male” or “I identify as Native American.”  I also hear a lot about identity politics.  Within that framework, I am not seen as an individual but as a member of a particular group or groups.

In this particular worldview, I am a demographic, not an individual.  I hear much made of division these days.  We are told how divided we are.  We are being separated from each other, divided into groups and then pitted against one another.

It is impossible not to belong to some demographic or group, but if truth be told, we actually each belong to many “groups.”  I am a female, so there’s one group right there.  I am of a certain age (not to be disclosed here) so there’s another group, my age group.  I am of a certain income level, so there’s another group,  my economic group, which contains groups ranging from the impoverished to the extremely wealthy.  My skin color puts me in a group or demographic.  My religious beliefs or lack of them put me in a group and within the religious group there seem to be an infinite number of denominations dividing all those who gather to worship.

My marital status puts me in a group.  My political views put me in a group.  My education level or lack of it puts me in yet another group.  My employment or lack of it puts me in a group, and if I am employed there are an infinite number of groups (jobs) that will further define and divide me from others.  (ie.  blue collar, white collar, working class, professional, skilled labor, academics, private sector, civil service, management and on and on)  No wonder identity is confusing.

If my identity depends on all the categories I fall into which we talk about as the groups we belong to, then as my categories/groups change over time is my identity ever changing as well?  I mean my income may change, my age will change, my employment status and type of job I hold will change many times, my marital status can change, my political views may change, my religious beliefs and therefore affiliations could change, my education could change (you can always get more education).  People change their citizenship and even their sex.

No wonder we don’t know who we are.  If we allow these ever changing demographics to define us, we will always be wondering who we really are, we will always be searching for our identity.  If we seek our identity in group labels rather than in the One in whose image we are created, we will never experience the security that comes from knowing who we are because we know Whose we are.

If I find my identity in Jesus Christ, it will not be an ever changing entity that I must constantly re-evaluate, manipulate or update in order to fit in with whatever current trends might dictate.  This is because of the truth that is revealed in Hebrews 13:8,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

James 1:17 also describes God as “the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

I am grateful to belong to a God who does not change while all around me, the divisions that attempt to define and divide me from others, continue to multiply until there are too many to keep up with currently.  There is rich vs. poor, female vs. male, generation vs. generation (that used to be a big one, even had a name – the generation gap) black vs. white, liberal vs. conservative, gay vs. straight, union vs. non-union, Jew vs. Muslim vs. Christian, socialism vs. capitalism, rural vs. urban, public vs. private – the list is endless because we continue to find ways to separate ourselves from each other.

I confess – apart from Christ I would be continuously searching for where and how I fit in this world in which I live.  I want to belong somewhere, somehow – but where and how?  Fortunately, my Heavenly Father, is a God of unity not of division, a God of inclusion not of exclusion, a God who sees me as the individual that I am and not as a member of any particular group or class of people.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28)

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  (Colossians 3:11)

Jesus always saw the individual, not the group.  He didn’t see a category of people – nameless, faceless, voiceless people – no Jesus saw each individual person, and He knew each one, every hair on their head, every dark deed in their past, every desire of their heart.

I love the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, which makes this so clear. Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee and we are told, “Now He (Jesus) had to go through Samaria.”  This is significant because Jesus was a Jew, and the Jews had no contact with the Samaritans.  In fact, Jews in that day went out of their way to avoid Samaritans. They usually traveled around Samaria, not through it.

So we see the presence and the practice of racism taking place in Jesus’s time.  But Jesus didn’t participate in mankind’s prejudices nor was He bound by man-made rules.  And so in John chapter 4, we find Jesus, tired from His journey, sitting by Jacob’s well, when a Samaritan woman comes to the well to draw water.  Jesus asks her for some water and she replies,

” ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can You ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)”  (John 4:9)

The woman was clearly surprised and for good reason.  Another translation of the last line of John 4:9 reads Jews “do not use dishes Samaritans have used.”  Jesus was clearly breaking some rules here.  My bible commentary explains further saying that at this time in history there was “legislation that forbade a Jew to eat or drink with Samaritans, who were more lax in their understanding of ritual cleanness.”

Now Jesus had come to fulfill the law not to abolish it.  (Matthew 5:17)  But that would refer to God’s law, not man’s law.  And so we find Jesus breaking down barriers that men had put into place.  Jesus was not only having a conversation with a woman, (women had no status in Jesus’s day, they were the property of their husbands) but with a Samaritan woman and not only that but He was asking to drink from her cup of well water.  This was shocking to His disciples.

But there is so much more to this story.  Jesus didn’t see this woman as a demographic, as an unknown, un-unique member of a people group or groups. (she was also poor and unmarried and lacking in any social status)  But Jesus knew her personally, He knew her story.

This was revealed later in their conversation when Jesus asked her to go get her husband and return to the well, prompting her to admit to Jesus that she had no husband. At this point,

“Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’ ”  (John 4:17-18)

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?’  They came out of the town and made their way toward Him.”  (John 4:28-30)

To me, as the reader of this story, she is the Samaritan woman at the well.  But to Jesus she was an individual with a past, a present and a future, all of which He knew intimately.  Jesus knew her true identity apart from any gender group, ethnic group or geographic or language or religious group in which she found herself living out her life.  Jesus breaks down all those barriers and cuts right to the heart of the matter and to the heart of the individual.

Jesus did so that day at the well when He told her, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”   (John 4:23-24)

Jesus was telling her that all our man made divisions and categories are not acknowledged by God because they don’t matter to Him.  God doesn’t look at our demographics because that’s not where our identity lies.  God looks at our hearts. He created them and He knows them.  Peter said in Acts 10:34-36,

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men (women) from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.  . . . telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

This story of Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is not over yet.   What happens next is even more remarkable than what has already taken place.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him (Jesus) because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’  So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days.  And because of His words many more became believers.  They said to the woman,  . . . ‘now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’ ”    (John 4:39-42)

Jesus abandoned His travel itinerary and took two days out of His schedule to stay with the Samaritans in the woman’s town.  Unheard of for sure.  The Samaritans were the despised people group at that time because they participated in pagan idol worship, mixed in with some Jewish practices.  Jewish people wouldn’t even travel through there, let alone stay there!  But God always shows us a better way to live with each other.

” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ”   (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Oh, that with my identity firmly established in Christ, I would see other people as God sees them – as an individual, not as a demographic.  And furthermore that I would treat each person as their individual identity would compel me to do, rather than relate to a person solely on the basis of their demographic identity, which is no true identity at all.

When Jesus came He broke down all the barriers separating us from each other and most importantly, separating us from God.  Why we keep building those barriers back up is beyond my understanding?  I am thankful that to my Heavenly Father I am a unique individual, created in His image, not a number in a group demographic.

Jesus could always pick the person out of the crowd.  Whether it was the Roman centurion, the woman who touched the hem of His garment, Zacchaeus up in the tree, Matthew/Levi sitting behind a tax collector’s booth, the thief hanging on the cross beside Him, Nathanael under the fig tree or countless others, – Jesus saw them, knew them, called them, healed them, ministered to their deepest needs and set them free to live the abundant life in Him that He came to give to anyone who would receive it.

maybe next time I’ll tell you one of their stories – until then –

“For He (Jesus) Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, . . .   He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”     (Ephesians 2:14-18)

sincerely,          Grace Day
























C.C. filled with faith #69

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

I confess that too often I feel like I am running on empty and have been for awhile now.  Maybe that’s how you feel too?  I think about these words of Jesus as He taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:11,

“Give us today our daily bread.”  Do I trust God to do that for me?

He did just that for the Israelites during their time in the desert.  “The Lord said to Moses,  . . .   tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’  The people of Israel called the bread manna.   . . .  The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.”   (Exodus 16:11-12, 31, & 35)

It says they were filled with bread.  Not a meager ration, not just enough to get by, but filled, – just like Jesus promised in Matthew 5:6, one translation says satisfied, and another one says completely satisfied. 

The thing is, if I am filled, I want to hang on to that feeling of fullness.  I don’t want to let it go, to let it pour out onto other people.  Then I will be left feeling empty again.  And that’s where trust comes in.  If I let go of it, if I share my fullness, I will find myself empty once again.  I have to trust that my Heavenly Father will be faithful to fill me again and again and again.

There is a story in 1 Kings chapter 17 about the prophet Elijah and a widow and her son.  Elijah is hungry and asks her for some bread.  She replies, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.”  She intended to use that to make one last meal for herself and her son before they died of starvation.

But Elijah told her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’ ”  (1 Kings 17:13-14)

The widow did as Elijah instructed her to do.  For her to use the last of her flour and the last of her oil to first make Elijah a cake of bread, she had to have faith, she had to trust that Elijah spoke God’s truth to her.  She had to trust God.  She had to believe even though her flour jar and her oil jug would be empty after she prepared Elijah’s meal, that God would provide for her and her son.  She had to believe God’s promise, relayed to her by Elijah, that her flour and her oil would not run out until the drought ended.

So she returned home and acting in faith, the widow prepared Elijah’s cake of bread first as he had asked her to do.  The result?  We read in 1 Kings 17:15-16,

“So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”

Notice the widow did not return home to a jar and a jug suddenly full to overflowing with flour and with oil.  If that had been the case, she would not have needed faith in order to prepare Elijah’s meal because she would not have been   using all that she had left to her in the world in order to do so.  No, she returned home to find them as empty as she had left them.  Still, she made the cake of bread for Elijah first and brought it to him, just as he had requested that she do.

This widow was doing what Abraham did, acting on faith, not on his sight. Because if we can see it, then it is not faith.  If we can see it or already possess it, we don’t need faith.  2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us of this truth.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”   some translations say live by faith, and the Living Bible says, “We know these things are true by believing, not by seeing.”  This goes back to Habakkuk 2:4 which says,

“but the righteous will live by his faith -“.   And that is how I am called to live.  I want to live like Abraham, like the widow, like the Israelites in the desert, like countless others who have gone before me, stepping out in faith, believing God, taking Him at His word.

The widow’s jar and jug, remind me of the Israelites’ manna in the desert.  In each case, it was a day by day supplying of their need.  Just as God’s mercies are new every morning, so was His manna new each morning, so was His supply of flour and of oil new every day, just what was needed for that day.

Faith and trust were required anew each and every day.  And Abraham, the widow, the Israelites, they all found God to be faithful.  I have found Him to be faithful, too.  As I hunger and thirst after His righteousness, to know Him more, He is faithful to fill me.

But what God gives is not given for me alone, rather to be poured out on those who have need.  I do not need to fear becoming hungry and thirsty because I will find myself hungry and thirsty again – but – He has promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Why does my Heavenly Father do it this way?  this one day at a time kind of a thing?  What could He be teaching me?  Matthew 6:34 gives me an answer.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Isn’t that the truth and a huge understatement all at the same time?  Especially in this era of COVID-19 and civil unrest, each day does seem to present plenty of problems for each of us to deal with.  And you, like me, may again find yourself running on empty.  

Each day I am thankful for a new beginning – new mercies, new manna, new flour and oil, and I remember these words in John 6:35,

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.’ ”

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

sincerely,        Grace Day







C.C. a wolf in sheep’s clothing #68

“Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.”  (Matthew 7:15-16)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”   (John 10:10)

There are a lot of sheep loose right now, running rampant in so many places. From a distance they appear white and woolly, wholly harmless.  But if you get too close, you will find among them, a wolf, waiting to take your life at the opportune moment.  Like the thief, the wolf comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  But because the wolf masquerades as a sheep, no one notices the damage they are doing until it is done and then it is too late.

That could explain why something doesn’t feel quite right, something just doesn’t seem to make sense to me but I can’t quite say exactly what it is.  I feel uneasy about it. Things don’t add up.  If black lives matter, why is BLM burning down and looting black owned and other minority businesses?  If black lives matter, why would they destroy memorials and statues honoring those that fought to free slaves, such as Ulysses S. Grant?  Lincoln lost his life because he was hated for what he did, but he signed the Emancipation Proclamation nonetheless.  Why would that act of courage not be worthy of remembering?

I confess – I am easily deceived, I am easily led astray.  If something seems good to me, if something sounds right to me, if something appears to be the correct way to go – I’m in.  Following my own wisdom or the ways of others however, does not always turn out as I had intended that it would.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  (Proverbs 14:12)

Some things sound so right.  “Black lives matter” is one of those phrases, which seems right and true and good and obviously correct.  And those words are true. But those three words are also the name of an organization that doesn’t seem to act in a way that says they believe what their name says they believe, namely that black lives matter.

You can imagine my confusion and concern upon learning that two black men, ages sixteen and nineteen had been shot and killed in Seattle’s CHOP zone, a safe space created and run by Black Lives Matter.  I didn’t see their names or pictures all over the news, or in the news at all.  Didn’t their lives matter?  Where was the outcry and the outrage over the loss of those two black lives?

Where is the protest over David Dorn’s death?  He is a black retired police captain who was killed in St. Louis by BLM protesters/rioters as he attempted to protect a local black owned business.  Doesn’t his black life matter?  There has been no outcry from BLM.  Why not?  Do only some black lives matter?  And if so, which ones?

Why isn’t BLM protesting outside of Planned Parenthood clinics?  According to the Wall Street Journal, “In 2014, 36% of all abortions were performed on black women, who are just 13% of the female population.”  The 2010 Census revealed that “79% of the Planned Parenthood surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities.  In some cities, such as New York, black abortions outnumber black live births by thousands every year.”

Don’t those black unborn lives matter to BLM?  What about the black lives lost to gun violence on the streets of Chicago (and other cities) every day?  Do those black lives matter to BLM protesters?  I haven’t seen any media coverage with the names and the faces of any of those black lives lost during this past month, or any month for that matter.

It is difficult to distinguish the wolf when he is hidden among the sheep, dressed in their likeness.  You can’t tell just by looking.  You have to watch what he does and you have to pay attention to what he says.

Brad Polumbo recently wrote this concerning the organization, BLM.  “No doubt, the organization itself was quite radical from the very beginning.  Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors described herself and fellow co-founder Alicia Garza as ‘trained Marxists’  . . .  ‘We actually do have an ideological framework,’ Cullors said of her organization.  ‘We are trained Marxists.  We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.’ ”

Polumbo goes on to say that BLM chapters use racial justice as a way to advance their own ideologies stating that BLM DC “openly dedicates itself to ‘creating the conditions for Black Liberation through the abolition of systems and institutions of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism.’ ”

The national organization of BLM’s official platform published in 2015, contains a call to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”

BLM has been talking, telling us who they are and what their agenda is.  Has anyone been listening?  Their goals are pretty clear.  Destroy democracy.  Destroy the family.  Abolish capitalism.  No private property.  The state owns everything collectively.  And there is much more on their website about what they do and what they intend to do.

As I have watched BLM in action across our country over the past month, as I have witnessed buildings burning, books banned, a statue thrown into the harbor, vandalism and violence – I find myself wondering if this is how the people of China felt during the Cultural Revolution of Mao, which took place in their country from 1966-1976 in order to usher in Communism.  By many accounts,

“Nothing related to traditional Chinese culture was safe.  Libraries were ransacked, monuments destroyed or severely damaged, and religious sites and tombs of historical figures were looted and desecrated.  Chinese literature, scrolls, and other classics were burned, paintings torn apart, and murals defaced.”

I think I know a little of how they must have felt as they watched their entire history being wiped away with the destruction of their written records, genealogies, literature, art, artifacts, tombs, and temples – all connections to their past, containing their history and carrying it forward into their present – reminders of their identity – now gone forever.

Suddenly, it is all too familiar.  Will history be rewritten for us once every reminder of our past is destroyed?  With every painting, every memorial, every statue, (every church) every book not deemed acceptable gone – who will we be then?  A free people?  The people of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation, or no?

Will we follow like sheep or will we recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing for who he really is, before it is too late?

“Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.    . . .  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”   (Matthew 7:17-20)

Today being “woke” is what we are told to be.  The question is, will we wake up in time?

“Arise, (wake up) cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.  Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, (your family, your friends, your country) who faint from hunger at the head of every street.”   (Lamentations 2:19)

sincerely,       Grace Day











C.C. the birthday #67

I confess – I am a big fan of birthdays – mine or anybody else’s.  I mean no matter whose birthday it is, you still get cake and ice cream, right?  And that’s my second confession for today – ice cream is my number one favorite food of all time.  That being said, you can see why I am sad that so many birthdays have gone uncelebrated since mid-March due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

Especially when we are young, birthdays are eagerly anticipated events, with much planning going beforehand to determine venue, food, decorations, guest list, games or activities etc.  This seems to apply more to children’s birthday parties than those we have as we get older.  But still, we like to celebrate the lives of those we love in some special, meaningful way.

Some birthdays seem more important than others because we deem them milestones, such as turning one or sixteen or twenty-one or sixty-five or ninety. Still every birthday is reason enough to celebrate in its own right.  How many grandparents have missed celebrating the birthdays of their grandchildren during this time? How many long planned parties have been cancelled or postponed?

These birthdays, these milestones of our lives, have gone unmarked and uncelebrated during this time when places have been closed and even family gatherings forbidden. Maybe we could ask the question, “if there’s no cake, no candles, no ice cream and no singing – am I really a year older?”  We shouldn’t have to add a year to our age if there was no cake or ice cream.  That just doesn’t seem fair.

This is the time when we usually celebrate another birthday, the birthday of our country, the United States of America.  Her birthday has always been celebrated in grand style.  From fire works to fish fries, from parades to picnics, from grand concerts to countless small town celebrations, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we all take time to celebrate our freedom as we celebrate our country’s birthday.

She was born under difficult circumstances, our country and she has faced many times when she was in critical condition, fighting for her very survival.  We weren’t alive then, we don’t realize how hard our country has fought to stay alive. We have no idea what life without freedom would be like.  We take for granted what we have never been without.

Abraham Lincoln referred to America’s birth and purpose in his Gettysburg Address calling the United States a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  Yes, the United States was born out of a peoples’ desire to be free and a peoples’ belief in the equality of all. They no longer wanted to be ruled by the royal monarchy of England but wanted to establish their own government.

Eighty-seven years before Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address, in our Declaration of Independence from England, our founding fathers clearly stated this self-evident truth saying, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  And so our country came to be, born out of a desire to be a free and self-governing people.

Born out of the Revolutionary War and having survived the War of 1812, our country now found herself on yet another battlefield listening to Lincoln saying these words, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that (our) nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”  It didn’t look good for America.  We were a young country struggling to survive.

You see, ironically, some in the country were not living out the ideals upon which our country was founded.  They were free from the crown of England but they were now enslaving other people.  The free were now taking away the freedom of others.  This could not continue.

This reminds me of the story in Matthew 18 of a King who was going to put a man in jail because the man owed the King a huge debt, not possible to ever repay in a lifetime.  But the man begged for mercy, so the King cancelled his debt thereby setting him free to live his life.  But this man then found someone who owed him a small amount and had that person put in jail because he could not pay.

How could someone who had been set free turn around and enslave someone else?  It cannot be allowed.  And that was the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln issued and signed on January 1, 1863 – to free any person held as a slave. Slavery could not continue in this country.  Slavery is incompatible with a country dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal because they are created by God, for God, in His image.  And so it came to pass that Lincoln and others found themselves on the battlefield of Gettysburg on that November day in 1863.

Lincoln said on that battlefield that day “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -”  Today, on this birthday of our country, we find ourselves on the battlefield once again.  We have been engaged in battling the invisible enemy of us all, COVID-19 and the also invisible, even more debilitating, enemy of our souls, fear.  But as our battle with COVID-19 and fear continues, our country is now called to battle another enemy simultaneously.

The enemy, injustice accompanied by prejudice, has come to claim our country once again.  The choice is ours.  Will we allow our country to die or will we fight to give her “a new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln resolved at Gettysburg that day?  If she ceases to exist on our watch, we are conceding that all who have died in the service of this, their beloved country over the years, have now died in vain.

Nathan Hale’s last words before he was hanged on Sept. 22, 1776 by the British as he fought for our independence, ring down through every era to today.  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  Lincoln would give his life in the service of this country, fighting for the abolition of slavery.  He was assassinated in 1865.  Little more than one hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King would likewise be assassinated, giving his life in the service of this country, trying to help her live up to the ideals stated in her constitution.

In fact, Dr. King was not seeking the death of America.  He was challenging her to make good on her promises and reach her potential as a people and as a nation. In his famous “I have a dream” speech, he said it was time to cash the check America had written so many years ago.  Without tearing down a single statue, Dr. King issued the greatest speech of all time and forced this country forward into fulfilling her unkept promises made so long ago.

The Gettysburg address was given on a battlefield.  Today, a day we should be celebrating our country on her birthday – every city is a battlefield, every conversation a minefield, every word a weapon – every act of discrimination a defeat, every act of courage, caring and justice a victory.

Today, the battle is not waged so much over possession of a fort or a hill or a valley – rather the battle is for the hearts and minds of the people who call this country home.  Lies and twisted half-truths take many prisoners, leaving them no longer free to think for themselves, no longer free to speak or to live as they choose. Truth – their only hope of regaining lost freedoms.

We have come too far to give up now.  If we don’t remember our past we will have no idea how far we have come.  Conceived in liberty, we are still a very young country compared to other nations, only two-hundred forty-four years old.  We must continue to grow into our founding documents, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, these must not be erased from our history and therefore eventually from our memories.

We must heed Lincoln’s words, we must “take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion . . .”   We must resolve, they shall not have died in vain.

As I write this, my thoughts turn toward our veterans everywhere.  You have served our country with self sacrifice and honor.  We owe you an unrepayable debt.  But one thing is sure.  Defacing your memorials and erasing the record of your service and sacrifice serves no positive purpose and makes no one’s life any better.  No one is any safer or any freer due to destruction and demolition of public property.

Are we still the land of the free and the home of the brave?  It has not felt like this is true in recent months.  People seem afraid to fly an American flag or to stand up in support of the country that has given them the freedom, safety and peace to pursue their dreams of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Why would we not want to fight for our country, to make her better, rather than to tear her down and erase her heritage, which is to erase our own heritage.  Just because a past is painful, does not mean it is not beneficial.  We have already witnessed through history our country slowly, painfully but purposefully correcting her mistakes.

I think our focus has been held captive by an incomplete picture of the reality that is our country.  What we give our thoughts to is so important.  Consider these words from Philippians 4:8,

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.”   (Psalm 33:12)

I pray that we will celebrate our country’s birthday today, giving thanks for the freedoms and protections she has provided us in the past and remembering the sacrifices of all who have gone before us, giving their lives so that this country might live.  She deserves a celebration.  Their memories deserve to be honored.

sincerely,      Grace Day