A NATION HUMBLED. The world considers the United States a "Superpower." They expect us to be the world’s policeman, and pay its bills. Our news media has referred to us as "...the world’s last Superpower" since the fall of the U.S.S.R. But, as one reader wrote to me, "God doesn’t consider us a Superpower."
We have thought of ourselves as invincible. We have the world’s greatest military, the strongest economy, the most freedom of any nation that ever existed. All true. But these things do not make us invincible, as we learned on The Day That Everything Changed.
We have been the most generous of nations. After World War II we spent billions of dollars to rebuild the very nations that tried to destroy us. Today Japan and Germany boast some of the world’s strongest economies thanks to us. No nation in history has done such a thing; America did. Whenever and wherever there are disasters, natural or man-made, America is the first to arrive with aid, and the last to leave. But our generosity has not protected us from the hatred of ideologues.
We have been a proud nation. But the events of September 11, 2001 have humbled us. And that’s a good thing.
Pride and humility. Both words have good and bad connotations, depending on the context. Pride can be good if it causes us to do the best or be the best we can be. But pride can get us into trouble if we start to think that we can accomplish anything by ourselves, that we can make it without God.
Some people think being humble means you are weak or timid. They’re wrong. A healthy humility acknowledges that we have strengths, but that they all come from God. A humble person (or nation) understands that whatever their gifts may be, they are just that- gifts. And that person (or nation) understands Who gives all good things.
I once toured Europe as a soloist with a large choir. One of my solos was, "Proud To Be An American." What does that mean? Did I do anything that resulted in my birth in this nation? No, that was decided for me. Did I make this a great nation? No, God did that using great men and women that came before me. Well, then what do I have to be proud of? I can take a healthy pride in the fact that this nation was founded by godly men and women on godly principles. I can be proud that this country, with all of its failings, has always tried to help others and defend those who are weaker. That’s healthy pride.
I have heard a lot from people exhibiting an unhealthy pride in the past weeks. What does unhealthy pride sound like? "We’re the biggest and the baddest, and we can kick anyone around that we want to. You’d better not mess with America, ’cause we’ll mess you up so bad your Momma won’t recognize you." This is the attitude that is described in the Bible verse that says, "Pride goeth before a fall." I’m glad our President hasn’t fallen into that trap.
I said that America has been humbled. That doesn’t mean that we are living in fear, or that we will not defend ourselves. It means that we are starting to understand something that people in 12-Step Programs know well- that we can’t control the events that shape our lives. It means that we are learning anew that we need to depend on God, and not put our trust in planes and guns. And it means that people who used to ignore God are now calling out to Him. As I said, that’s a good thing; a very good thing.
We keep hearing people talk about getting back to normal, or more precisely, acting like everything is normal. Well, everything is NOT normal, and everything will NEVER be normal again, if "normal" means that life will be like it was before this horrible attack. Everything has changed. Our country has been invaded by a foreign power, but we’re not sure which country or countries were behind the attack. Doctors are telling us that people who used to sleep soundly at night, believing that our borders were safe, now have trouble sleeping. For the first time in our nation’s history, the State Department has issued a Traveler’s Advisory for the WHOLE WORLD! We’ve become accustomed to seeing such Advisories for terrorist nations or nations like Israel which were under terrorist threat. But never before has our government told us that no country is safe for Americans.
And so, having learned that pride cannot protect us, we have humbled ourselves and begun to pray. Certainly there are those who still shake their fists heavenward in defiance, but I’m also seeing people who have never prayed before learning to do so. The President has called the nation to prayer. Prayer for the nation has been offered in Congress. Governors and mayors have asked their constituents to pray. Churches have been filled to capacity with people praying since the Attack on America. We’ve even seen our traditionally liberal news media call us to prayer. (MEMO to the Justices of the Supreme Court: "Is it OK to pray in the schools now?")
We see signs of humility: Americans who had never given God much thought are starting to seek His face. People are kinder to one another. Strangers talk to strangers about what is happening. People are realizing how important their family and friends are. We’re spending more time with our kids.
And we’ve learned from the people on United Flight 93 that the things we think are so important really aren’t. Some on that plane who had cell phones received the gift of a few minutes to call their families moments before they died. Not one of them asked how business was or how many sales had been made that day. They said, "I love you. I’ll always love you."
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we have received numerous requests for a link to a patriotic website that we would recommend. We decided to refer you to one that we had linked to previously. Thousands of you enjoyed a visit to the America the Beautiful website when we gave a link to it in our Independence Day issue. We received more "thank-you" notes about this site than any we have ever recommended.
This website has been an inspiration to millions of Americans, as well as people from all over the world. I consider the way it has grown to be a great example of the triumph of good. Large corporations spend millions of dollars to attract visitors to their websites. This site was designed by Marcia Phyfer, a housewife and mom in Mississippi, as a labor of love for her country and her God. She did no advertising, and of course the liberal media, which ridicules patriotism, completely ignored the site. Yet it has received more visitors than many expensive corporate sites. In fact, so many visited the site this summer (over 4 million) that the traffic overwhelmed the free web space it used and it had to be moved to a conventional hosting company.
Make sure you request the free “Story Behind America the Beautiful” when you visit www.OurChristianNation.org . Pass this link on to your friends. When you visit, you will come away humbled and grateful that God has allowed you to be part of the wonderful experiment in freedom that is America. The powerful words and images you find there will help you understand the Spirit of America.