Patriot Day is upon us, the day of remembrance for the tragedies suffered 15 years ago in our land. A moment of silence observed at 8:46 am EST will bring us together, uniting our hearts to honor and commemorate the lives lost, both victims of the terrorist attacks and those who gave their lives in service to help save many more. May we lift up holy Words held dear that day:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me
Psalm 23:4 NASB
These words remain a comforting return to courage, reminding us of the ever-present security and assurance we have in our God.
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at [those against you], for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:6,8 NASB
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
Isaiah 43:1,2 NASB
A Charge to Keep
From these Scriptures, ours is not a position to stand paralyzed in fear or disconnected from resolve, but to move forward in keeping what is entrusted to our care. The gardening life teaches this disposition; we are familiar with tending and keeping matters, no matter the desparate circumstances. Whether tempest, pest, pestilence, or disagreeable weather, we carry on, compelled to keep and cultivate the life, beauty, and bounty under our care.
With this in mind, I recommend reading If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, by Eric Metaxas, a tremendous work and timely teaching on the charge we have as citizens of the United States to keep the promise of our nation alive and vibrant. Not a gardening book, exactly (the kind of book you might expect me to review), yet the title endeared me instantly to the ancient words signifying garden work:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15 ESV
The title comes from a brief yet epic exchange between Benjamin Franklin and a woman in the crowd surrounding Independence Hall as he emerged from one of the intense Continental Congress sessions in its final days:
According to McHenry, Mrs. Powell put her questions to Franklin directly: “Well, doctor,” she asked him, “what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin, who was rarely short of words or wit, shot back: “A republic, madam—if you can keep it.”
—retold by Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, 2016
As Metaxas goes on to describe, “If it had been a monarchy, or some other form of government with equally strong monarchic leanings—it would not have been up to the people to “keep” anything. The monarch or the powers of the monarchy would do all the “keeping” that was necessary….But because what the founders created was a republic…It would be we—“we the people,” in the famous phrase—who must “keep” it.”
Throughout the book, Metaxas, a thoughtful, engaging, and savvy storyteller, recounts the important factors that precluded something called into being that was previously not: Self-government. A nation’s beginning, a people’s existence under no authority of king, queen, or dictator but a governing body elected by a people self-controlled, reverently abiding by the Spirit of God.
Our nation’s founding is an epic story, and any story worth telling is worth telling repeatedly, rhythmically, until our lives become the cadence of its moral—ask any preschooler who wants to hear the same book at every bedtime; ask God, who referenced his story of deliverance to his people at every turn:
And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions. Exodus 12:51 NIV
I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45 NIV
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 5:6 NIV
It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. Joshua 24:17 NIV
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 1 Samuel 10:18 NIV
This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt Nehemiah 9:18 NIV
You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm Jeremiah 32:21 NIV
Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Daniel 9:15 NIV
I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. Micah 6:4 NIV
He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt Acts 7:36 NIV
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt Hebrews 8:9 NIV
Metaxas’ work remembers the inimitable founding of our nation and our charge to keep it, a story to tell again and again, a crucial read for this day of remembrance, Patriot Day.
God Bless America
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm