Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All Aboard!

I love trains. As a kid I loved to watch the trains go by the little day care house run by Mrs. Contreras in San Antonio, TX when I was a small child. The tracks were literally just a few feet from her back yard, chain link fence. When I went to school in Virginia, the campus sat alongside a spur of the then Southern Railroad line. I would watch the freight trains rumble by during lunch and waive to the engineers. It always gave me a thrill when they'd waive back. I would fantasize about driving or even "hobo-ing" a train and letting it take me wherever it was destined. On a visit to an Aunt and Uncle's in Southern California one summer, I rode on a passenger train from San Clemente to San Diego. It was a blast. No surprise, that I was hooked on electric trains and model railroading as a kid and teenager. Even my house in Austin where I live today, is less than 1000 feet from the Union Pacific rail line! So hopefully, you'll understand my reaching for the analogy of a train as I use it in regards to our national debt crisis, economic crisis, and the moral crisis hitting our nation.

As a student of both history and the Bible, I'm struck at how many themes or "lessons" repeat themselves. How many times did God punish the Israelites for their disobedience, over and over again. And, here we are a few millennia later and we are about to enter what the Old Testament prophecies refer to as the "time of Jacob's trouble." It's important to note that the Lord referred to Israel as "Jacob" whenever they were really messing up. The House of Israel is still in rebellion today and won't really wake up nationally or as a people until "they gaze upon him whom they pierced," Yeshua (Jesus).

If the Lord was this rugged with a people who claimed to be His and whom He called "chosen," how much less firm will He be with a people as blessed as we Americans who also proclaim nationally, "IN GOD WE TRUST?" We are so bold that in our Declaration of Independence, we claim our rights come from Him and we make reference to Him in that wonderful document no less than four times! Again, will He not hold us to similar account? I sometimes shudder at the thought.

We proclaim in song, "God shed His grace on thee..." and indeed, He has, without question. What other nation in history, but perhaps Israel, has witnessed supernatural intervention, providence and fate on our behalf at dramatic moments? What other nation in world history has prospered and created technologies as we have? Any student of American History must conclude this, or at least, conclude that America has the dumbest luck. Again, will He not hold us to a high standard of accountability? I believe that answer to be, yes!

Can a just and loving God hold back his indignation forever from a society that has murdered some 51 million children in the womb? Is the rampant perversion and homosexuality upon us really a form of judgement? What about the increases in child abuse and child porn? Is our bizarre weather and hard droughts of recent years part of a larger curse? Is some of the wrath of other nations against us, in some aspects, judgement too? Are we not reaping what we have sown as a society, with regards to our greed and materialism, by experiencing a floundering economy and astronomical debt? Again, I must admit the answer to be, yes!

If this is the case, and I suspect many of you would agree with the above analysis,, the next question that has to be begged is, is it too late? Can we still turn back to the Lord and have Him heal our land? If we turn to Him with broken spirits and contrite hearts, will He despise us? The God and Savior that I have come to know seems rather quick to forgive, is slow to anger, is astoundingly patient and long suffering. He proclaims that His mercies are everlasting! Wouldn't a Lord like this be quick to welcome a prodigal nation like ours back to His care? Again, I exclaim, yes!

However, I feel the unction to caution, not for much longer. We as Christians must hit our knees harder than ever. We must pray for the Lord not only to tighten up our loose ends as his elect, but to guide our seemingly clueless, political, leaders and wake them up from deadly slumber along with the rest of our nation. The train is still sitting at the station, yet it is blowing its mournful whistle. It will soon start to slowly pull out and away. If we abandon God nationally, sooner or later, He will abandon us nationally. We have kicked him out of the public square, our schools and to some extent our lives by our chasing after material things and money.

Look, I'm a huge capitalist pig, but we are talking priorities here. The Apostle Paul was a capitalist too. He was a tent maker and sold his tents in the market, not to start a Fortune 500 company (though he had at times some people who worked with him,) but rather to take care of himself, his ministry team and those fellow believers around him in need. He made it clear to the Ephesus Christians that when he was with them he "coveted no man's gold or silver..." He went on to say how hard he worked night and day to take care of himself and those with him. He set an example for the Ephesian Church that in like manner, they should do the same and save up a little for cases of urgent need. In other words, they weren't simply working for a living, but also for a "giving." There can be a fine line between a desire to better one's estate and raw greed. Often, it requires great spiritual maturity and honest examination of the heart to discern between the two. We can never trust in riches, only in the Lord.

Perhaps, the Lord is trying to teach us a lesson here. Perhaps, he has brought us to the Grace Station and is showing us that last train to Jordan. The engine is heating up and it won't be long till those drive wheels start turning. The conductor is shouting at the top of his lungs that final call. Will we as a nation heed the call? Or, will we wait instead for that train with the fine, luxury, passenger cars filled with tempting things and distractions, that is bound straight down the line to destruction? Will we ask Him to help us untangle this economic mess we've created and defuse the time bomb of our debt? Or, will we look for that engine of secular humanism, pulling the freight car loaded with the idol of money? I think money is the last idol to fall in our society, and in our churches, for that matter.

No, I don't feel the Lord has turned his back on us just yet. However, I think he is about to. I'm reminded of that line toward the end of the Don McLean song, "American Pie"; 'And the three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train for the coast...' And, God is standing there on the platform with His suitcase packed giving us one last, longing, backward gaze at the Big American Girl that stole His heart, but has since broken it with her harlotry's.

The conductor is now shouting, "all aboard?" It's now or never.