America has been blessed with privileges and opportunities. The beginning of good fortune came to our ancestors solely by grace. The good things they experienced were undeserved, without any cost. The best gift? The fertile, well-watered land! The land came to our forefathers unspoiled, beautiful, waiting for the Pilgrims to progress from sea to shining sea.
Our country's advance required expansion across the wilderness to explore the western frontier. Prairies and plains were crossed, and the mountains were traversed. This expansion featured wagon trains, a pony express, telegraph lines, steam locomotives, the California gold rush, industrial and agricultural development, and a transcontinental railroad. Along the way, we fought a bloody Civil War, ended slavery, and preserved the Union.
But many of the greatest blessings that any people on earth could ever receive have now been erased, misplaced or forgotten. I'm talking about the spiritual deposits, the rain from heaven, the visitations of God that Americans have lost. Have you ever heard of the Great Awakening? What about the revival movements spawned by Charles Wesley or Jonathan Edwards? Churches in some cities were full every noon with people praying. In the Cane Ridge Revival, people were drawn to believe the gospel while trembling in the field under God's power.
Spiritual giants left a mark on our nation's culture. Leaders like D.L. Moody, George Finney and Billy Graham. I'd include Oral Roberts. Sovereign moves of the Lord produced waves of repentance with multitudes coming to faith. Baptists and Methodists emerged. Churches grew. Bible colleges began. Circuit riding preachers helped civilize the west.
I've lived through fires of revival and flashes of renewal: the neo-Pentecostal movement, the charismatic renewal, the Jesus' people movement, and more. Now we're left with the residue, the testimony of amazing times. The signs of former glory linger like empty echoes in the form of familiar names, footnotes in history books, dedicated sacred buildings and organized denominations. We can label our religious heritage.
In pioneer days, herds of bison blackened the prairie from horizon to horizon, hundreds of thousands of the thundering beasts grazing in the morning fog, enough to feed whole Indian tribes in the winter. Flocks of wild carrier pigeons would take to wing and darken the sky overhead for hours, too numerous to count. How could anyone imagine such historical extravagant bounty being extinguished?
Yet they disappeared. Let this be a warning. What came freely was wasted, squandered and lost. Likewise, what came by the Spirit during America's formative days has disappeared from modern awareness. Now it is dissipated, neglected, a mere memory or passing shadow.
Why has this happened? How do we find ourselves in this sorry state of affairs? To what do we lay the blame for the slow-rolling catastrophe that has become America's profane common culture?
Anyone who thinks the situation in America is normal ought to have his head examined. Someone once said, "He who is ignorant of history is doomed to repeat it." Likewise, seeing the sorry status quo and thinking it was always like this and that it's okay is very ignorant of what we once possessed as a free nation. The fact is, God has frequently sent waves of revival to our nation. If people will turn from their wicked ways, pray and seek His face, God will heal our land.
What unseen force can provoke people to turn and seek God? The answer is grace, God's undeserved favor and invisible power. Grace is a gift. It's never earned or deserved. What causes grace to flow? When intercessors travail and touch God's heart, He hears.
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Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 06/05/2019
Print Headline: America's decline, the Church's fault