When The Heart of a Nation Grows Cold

(or “A Medley of Matters”)
by Tom Wacaster

(Originally written October, 2015)

Occasionally I find my mind racing from one thought to another and find it difficult to focus on any one thing for any length of time. It is Monday morning, and I am scrambling to get an article written for the bulletin, realizing that I have a self-imposed deadline. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning which ended up being a waste of five hours, the reasons which I will not even attempt to explain at this point. This was followed by an appointment with Johnnie Ann’s doctor after lunch, lasting until midafternoon. This left the evening, and a short one at that since I am still growing tired by 7:00 p.m. as I struggle to get over the jet lag from the journey home from India four days ago. Tomorrow morning, very early, before the traffic sets in, I plan to be on my way to Lubbock for the Southside lectures. I plan to carry a display for KSP, and enough clothes and necessities for a two-night stay in some motel yet to be selected. Someone has said that anxiety, frustration, and stress are most likely to descend upon a person when several things come at you all at once. Generally, we can handle those little inconveniences if they are lined up, and each is taken in proper order. It is when a number of those frustrating moments come at you all at once that you find your stress level rising and looking down the road for one of those days or weeks when things “get back to normal.” Unfortunately, it is the “normal days” that are really abnormal, and we find ourselves wrestling with what is really normal on a day-to-day basis. Each of us has our own peculiar way to deal with day-to-day stress, but more often than not, most people go about it in such a way that they simply add to the stress. This is because they don’t have a release valve with which to relieve the pressure. So, they latch on to philosophical cures conjured up in the minds of men, few of which actually bring relief, and most of which only provide a temporary escape from life’s pressures.

In her book, The Story of My Life, Helen Keller reflected upon one occasion when she would, for the first time, enter a classroom of children who could see and hear (neither of which she could do), she mentally prepared herself for that experience that would be hers for the first time. Though she approached this new experience with a  positive attitude, she simply could not prepare herself for what awaited her. She later wrote to her teacher and pointed out, “When I came to your class last October, I was trying with all my might to be like everybody else, to forget as entirely as possible my limitations and peculiar environment. Now, however, I see the folly of attempting to hitch one’s wagon to a star with a harness that does not belong to it” (379-380).

Human beings are unique, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The problem with many of the methods employed by men to deal with stress is that they leave God out of the picture, and in the words of Helen Keller, are nothing more than an attempt to “hitch one’s wagon to a star with a harness that does not belong to it.” Some attempt to drown their stress in a bottle of booze, pleasure, or just plain busyness; some just deal with it. Seeing that man is made in God’s image, it seems to me that the answer to stress lies somewhere in man’s need to stay connected to his Creator.

I have learned over the years (ever so slowly, I might add) that stress can best be dealt with if I just take a few minutes and give my burden to the Father. Peter admonished the same: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Next time you find life to be overly stressful, why not take Peter’s advice; after all, it is inspired, is it not?

Now, on to the second “matter” in this “medley.” I used for my title of this week’s “Pen” four words that would suggest that I would simply touch on some things that have no relation one to another. I have to be honest, however, and point out that the next portion of this week’s article does have a connection with what I just wrote. The situation in Oregon this past week has left my heart with a sick feeling. Mass murders are increasing at an alarming rate. No sooner do we get over the shock of one school shooting, put the victims in the grave, wrestle with the “why” and the “motive” of someone who would snuff out the lives of innocent human beings, when we hear of another. Only yesterday (Oct. 2nd) a plot was uncovered involving four high school students who were planning yet another killing somewhere in California. Two weeks later a 72-year-old veteran managed to stop a crazed, knife wielding 19-year-old who was intent on snuffing out the lives of a dozen or more 3rd-9th graders in a public library. Such violence and shootings are becoming all-too common place. With every incident of like nature, we become a little more accustomed to the violence. Our hearts ache, the politicians wring their hands as they look for a solution, and the names of the victims are often forgotten while the name of the perpetrator is burned into our memory by a media enamored with such sensationalism.

A recent poll (Fox News, October 2, 2015) suggests that 67% of our country thinks this nation is heading in the wrong direction. It does not take a poll to know that. It has been heading in the wrong direction for well over a half century. Our politicians have acquiesced to the politically correct and walked “in the counsel of the ungodly” (Psa. 1:1), so much so that they have ripped the very life out of the fabric of our society. What we are witnessing is a nation whose heart is growing cold and hardened by sin. Why is it that we look for the “why” and/or “motive,” when we have been busy planting the seeds of such disrespect for life for almost a century? We have robbed this generation of a moral standard, suppressed the word of God by any means possible, sued schools that dared allow any hint of spiritual principles to enter into their curriculum, refused prayer in the classrooms, barred teachers and students alike from bringing Bibles to class, and then we scratch our heads in bewilderment when someone takes a loaded pistol into his classroom to vent his life’s frustrations in the most unimaginable way possible—by simply killing others with whom he disagrees, or who might have rubbed him the wrong way somewhere along the line.

America’s second president, John Adams, made the following observation about the U.S. Constitution: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Adams was correct, and the rejection of his wise words is being played out on the stage of life in the 21st century. I’ll close this “medley of matters” with the following quote from Bob Winton, fellow preacher and editor of “The Old Paths”:

Dial the clock forward to 2014—the nation devoted to the god of me, myself and I, rather than the Hand of Providence of earlier years. Consider the cries of discrimination, intolerance and even racism, when societal standards of what is right, decent and good are most perfectly summed up by the bumper sticker, “WHATEVER!” This cultural casserole of conscience shuns “a moral and religious people” and heralds the governing elites who view their intellect as superior to the weak leaning on the crutch of faith and religion. These 21st century elites openly mock the belief in and reverence of the [God of the Bible] who endows His creation with unalienable rights, demands personal responsibility, shows love and mercy through community benevolence and charity, and has a dim view of laziness, lying and corruption. Yet a society composed of individuals who subscribe to honesty, individual discipline and industriousness, mutual respect of persons and property, along with a measure of good will and charity, is a free people. Such a society will enjoy Liberty driven not by external lists and constraints of law, but by internal goodness and the “Golden Rule.”

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