Sunday, January 9, 2011

America the Beautiful?

My heart is so heavy this morning, as is all of America's.  I want to offer up my thoughts on this tragic, senseless shooting in Arizona, but my deepest emotions sound too common . . .  too ordinary to be meaningful.  

I do hope that, as the lives of those lost yesterday are reported about, we will be inspired to live our lives to the fullest, to be the best that we can be to and for those around us.  

So, whenever I feel this way I go to the One who knows exactly what to say, whose thoughts are above ours and who holds us in the palm of His hand.  I lift my prayers to Him and hide in the shadow of His wings.  I am praying for the families and the victims of this tragedy and for America.  As I held my bible in hand and opened it up this is where it opened at.  

Psalm 50

The God of gods -- it's God -- speaks out, shouts, "Earth!"
    welcomes the sun in the east,
    farewells the disappearing sun in the west. 
From the dazzle of Zion,
     God blazes into view. 
Our God makes his entrance,
     he's not shy in his coming
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.

He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
    he's taking his people to court:
"Round up my saints who swore
    on the Bible their loyalty to me."

The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
    that here God is judge.

"Are you listening, dear people?  I'm getting ready to speak;
    Israel, I'm about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
     speaking to you.
I don't find fault with your acts of worships,
     the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
    or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
    the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird  by name;
    the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I'd tell you?
     All creation and it's bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
    or drinks draughts of goats' blood?

Spread for me a banquet of praise, 
    serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you're in trouble -- 
I'll help you, and you'll honor me."

Next, God calls up the wicked:

"What are you up to, quoting my laws, 
    talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
    you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
    adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
    lying is a serious art form with you.

You stab your own brother in the back,
    rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
     you thought I went along with your game. 
I'm calling you on the carpet, now,
    laying your wickedness out in plain sight.

"Time's up for playing fast and loose with me.
I'm ready to pass sentence,
    and there's no help in sight!

It's the praising life that honors me.
    As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I'll show you my salvation."

As I began typing this I doubted and thought "maybe this isn't what I should be using", so I pick the bible back up and turned again and the next scripture that fell open convinced me that yes, this is something God wants to say because they are so similar.  

Isaiah 35

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, 
the badlands will celebrate and flower --
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
a symphony of song and color.

Mountain glories of Lebanon -- a gift. 
     Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon -- gifts.
GOD's resplendent glory, fully on display.
     GOD awesome, GOD majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls, "Courage!  Take heart!  GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He's on his way!  He'll save you!"

Blind eyes will be opened, 
     deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
     the voiceless break in to song.
Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness,
     streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis,
     thirsty ground a splashing fountain.
Even lowly jackals will have water to drink,
     and barren grasslands flourish richly.

There will be a highway 
     called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious 
     is permitted on this road.
It's for GOD's people exclusively --
     impossible to get lost on this road.
     Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
      no dangerous wild animals --
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
     Only the redeemed will walk on it.  
The people GOD has ransomed 
     will come back on this road.
They'll sing as the make their way home to Zion, 
     unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness 
     as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

America, God bless you and keep you.  Fellow Americans hold on tight to the promises of God, know Him and His Word.  Just as the scripture says in Psalm 50, when your in trouble tell Him and He'll help you and that will bring Him glory.  And one day, we will find each other on the Holy Road with unfading halos of joy encircling our heads, gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night. 

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