A Failure of Nerve

My father tells me that my grandfather, one of the most respected and best known farmers of Shelby County, seriously considered giving up and selling out in the 1930’s.  It was after the stock market crash; times were very hard; he was in serious debt due to an unfortunate turn of events a few years before, and he wanted to sell out and become a doctor instead.  He was almost 40 years old at the time– this would have been a very iffy road.  He, and the farm, were saved by his wife, my grandmother.  She was a co-owner of some of the land, and she wouldn’t agree to the sellout.  Instead, she believed in him, and in their ability to overcome the hardship.  In the years that followed, through a world war and years of hard times, Granddad faced all the challenges and realized amazing success.  Though he was sorely tried, his nerve held, and many years of prosperity eventually did come. This week has seen the worst financial crisis in modern American history.  Some say only a massive US govt. bailout of the banking system will prevent a worldwide run on all major banks, which will result in economic chaos.  To be sure, there haven’t been stories of former millionaires throwing themselves from windows on the front page.  Nevertheless, tens or hundreds of thousands- perhaps millions- of very successful people have had their economic lives destroyed in the last few weeks.  To solve the problem, every citizen of America will likely be burdened with an extra $2000.00+ of government debt, payable for years to come in the form of higher taxes, fewer jobs, inflation, etc.  It is as if every one of us was charged by someone else an extra $2K on a credit card we didn’t realize we had, and now we must pay it off.  Hello … is this a bad dream?

Seemingly endless wars in the middle and far east, a terrorist Iran determined at all costs to get tactical nuclear weapons (and use them on Israel), a culture in moral decline, fierce battles over energy resources and the environment, and now this.  What do we do, and where do we turn?  Most importantly, are we, as the American people, ready to look this in the eye & face the challenge?  In order to do that, we must:

  1. Own the problem  This is our fault, because we, the voters of this nation, chose the men and women in govt. who allowed this mess to start, get worse and finally blow up.  Much will be said in the coming years about specific fault, but the fact remains– this is a democracy, not a dictatorship.  There may be lots of good reasons why you and I were focused on other things, didn’t realize this or that, but it doesn’t matter.  We have the government we asked & voted for.  To turn it around, we must recognize that this isn’t a failure of the free market, but a failure of government and business accountability.  Therefore, we must educate ourselves on the details, contact our congressmen and senators to let them know what we think, volunteer for and support leaders who will not foolishly squander our children’s future and we must vote!
  2. Become the solution  In the midst of the depression, my grandfather took a risk to save our farm.  He scraped together some of what little money he had and, knowing the price would rise soon, bought tobacco when everyone else was dumping it.  Not long after he sold it for a profit and was able to keep going.  Each of us has different situations and abilities, but all of us can and must make the same choice– commit to doing whatever it takes, rather than giving up and blaming the politicians and corporations.  This is our country, and they serve us.  If we believe the lie of socialism, then we exist to serve the state.  But if we are free men and women, created in the image of God and meant to take dominion of the world we live in, then we will reject slavery and not lose our nerve.  Instead of lying down we will work, and refuse to give up.
  3. Believe our calling  In this excellent article, Bill Whittle makes the point that civilizations fall because the common man gives up on defending the city.  Therefore, with all our mistakes and problems, with all the bad decisions American has made– is our community, our country, worth defending?  Many around us, in universities, think tanks and newspaper editorials, assert that we are the oppressive perpetrators of evil in the modern world.  Our culture, our military, our commitment to freedom and prosperity, even for our enemies, is a stench in all the world’s nostrils, and the sooner America falls, the better.  Is this really true?  Will the world be better if the United States comes crashing down and burns in a giant, radioactive heap?  In times like right now, we must answer these critics forcefully and clearly.  Either we believe in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the God of our fathers and the gift of the country they have given us, or we don’t.  If we do, we must put steel in our words and deeds, and defend it.

Finally, in order to do all the rest, we must live by faith.  In ancient times, the most powerful king of his day made a life changing discovery.  In overweening pride he declared himself to be a god, and the true God sent him into the wilderness to live like a beast.  When he was graciously restored, he said:

DA 4:34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

DA 4:35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

DA 4:36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

As the free citizens of a democracy, we must recognize the same thing.  Jesus Christ, the Lord of all whom Nebuchadnezzar met long ago, remains the foundation for the blessing and prosperity we enjoy today.  If we imagine that we are “god”, and that we can solve all our problems by scientific discovery, social experiment, free market capitalism or government pronouncement, our fate will be the ash heap of chaos and financial slavery.  If we, as the people redeemed and made new by Jesus, Son of the Most High, will live by faith in Him and steel our nerve instead of losing it, we will overcome.

May God have mercy, and help us to do just that.

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