Are you feeling blessed this year? I hope you’re gratified again with life’s blessings — but not too satisfied.
We are indeed a blessed people with much to be thankful for. Our most meager conditions in this country are rich compared to the world’s majority.
The blessings aren’t all physical possessions. Our founders declared this a nation of “free” people, where average citizens could choose their course of life. Much of the world wakes up every day to live (and sometimes give) their lives for a king or dictator. America has long been the hope of the “tired and poor” and “huddled masses” yearning to be free.
Major cultural changes have occurred in our country, but for the most part, we are happy for our blessings. While much of the world has long lived on a subsistence level, we live in a land of plenty. We would be remiss to not be thankful.
And yet my heart grieves. The American Dream is a lovely thing, but it isn’t the dream God had for us when He created humanity. The very best this world offers falls pitifully short of what God had in mind. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.
I wonder what life was like in Eden: walking and talking with God and knowing Him in perfect trust, without the clutter and clatter of this world. We don’t even miss what we’ve missed out on. To us, our world is how it’s always been. We don’t recognize the torment and limitations on our lives because we have never known otherwise and because we are so distracted by a material world.
A children’s Bible story book we have paints the story so well. Adam and Eve had wanted for nothing and didn’t know of a way contrary to God. They had no concept of deception, envy, or strife — no predators or inclement weather. They lived in harmony with their loving Creator and all creation.
The book goes on to describe (with some license) how blissful Eden must have been and how devastating it was to be banished from it: alone, out in the cold, and all but completely severed from God. I’ve read this Bible account often but never grasped the magnitude of the loss of Eden nor wept for the loss.
In a sense, you and I have also been banished from that garden. We don’t dwell on it or miss it — because we never knew it. To us, America is as good as it gets. This is our home, where we belong, right?
I hope not. Jesus has bought back our inheritance. He has made a way for us to have that “Eden experience” — and much more. I hope America and this way of life is not our “bowl of soup” that we are willing to buy in exchange for our birthright.
I love this country. I love what it was founded on and the role it has played in history. We have it good here on Earth, but this country isn’t the answer. It’s been comfortable — too comfortable. Our hearts and minds should always yearn for that higher calling, not higher incomes. And if that means we seem a little out of step with our culture, so be it.
A prayer written by Sir Francis Drake (a pirate, of all people!) sums it up well:
Disturb us, Lord, when/We are too pleased with ourselves,/When our dreams have come true/Because we have dreamed too little,/When we arrived safely/Because we sailed too close to the shore./Disturb us, Lord, when/With the abundance of things we possess/We have lost our thirst/For the waters of life;/Having fallen in love with life,/We have ceased to dream of eternity/And in our efforts to build a new earth,/We have allowed our vision/Of the new Heaven to dim./Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,/To venture on wider seas/Where storms will show Your mastery;/Where losing sight of land,/We shall find the stars./We ask You to push back/The horizons of our hopes;/And to push back the future/In strength, courage, hope, and love./This we ask in the name of our Captain,/Who is Jesus Christ.*BA
*Sources: freshworship.org/node; echurchprayer.wordpress.com