What’s Your Excuse?

“My dog ate my homework.” The well-worn classic grade school excuse.

This present student generation has a new take on that: “My computer crashed and it didn’t save my paper.” (I’ve heard that one a lot from teaching college students.)

Here are a couple of the excuses I hear when someone tries to explain why they didn’t return my call, my email, or my text in a timely manner.

“I’m up to my elbows in alligators.”  “It’s been a zoo around here.”

The latest, of course, is:”…because of COVID…” Though this virus is awfully real and serious—it has gotten on the list of excuses. We blame it sometimes for our idleness, our anxiety, or our anger.

Excuses showed up early in the history of mankind.

In the Garden of Eden, just three chapters into the Bible, man and woman sinned. It’s a good story and explains the Great Fall, but look at Adam and Eve’s response, from Genesis 3: 12-14, when God asks them to explain their behavior:

“The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate.’  Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (emphasis mine) Accuse God, accuse the wife, accuse the Deceiver, and somehow it exonerates the sinner. Psychologists might call it transference. Simply put, it’s blaming someone else for our failures and our sins.

“Pass the buck.”  

This is a phrase that originated in the early American frontier when poker players put a marker (sometimes a buck-handled knife) in front of the dealer. If the marker was passed to a player who didn’t want to accept that responsibility of dealing, he’d pass it to the next player. Passing the buck.

Thirty-third American President Harry Truman, had a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here.” This meant that he would accept all responsibility for decisions he made and for those made under his administration. This is the whole point of this blog post—encouraging us all to take full responsibility for our actions, no matter who has hurt us or mislead us.

Only Jesus could take our past sins upon Himself and absolve us from them. However, we’ve got to admit to our weaknesses, short comings, or sins in order for that to happen. “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Lucy was four years old when she raided the candy jar that her mother had so carefully hidden. When the mother found out that her daughter had done this, she asked Lucy to confess. When the child was hesitant to admit to the crime, the mom said, “Did someone else in this house eat all of the candy?” Lucy looked around, shrugged, and then sighed, “No, but right now I just wish I had a little brother.”

Homework-consuming dogs, alligators, serpents, or little brothers should not be used as excuses….“For every person will have to bear… his own burden [of faults and shortcomings] for which he alone is responsible.”  (Galatians 6:5 AMP)

Consider the Clock

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

We have a clock. Well, we used to have a clock in our bedroom. It was lovely and decorative and it was perfect for a blank space on our wall. However, as long as I can remember that clock has not keep “good time.” It seemed to always be 10 minutes fast. We’ve tried fixing that by resetting it to the correct time, changing the battery, and then setting it ten minutes before the actual time to compensate—to no avail. It still displayed the wrong time. We don’t know if the clock was defective or we had not set it properly. Either way, to us, the clock was not living up to its original purpose—to show us the correct time.

I can relate to this. I feel sometimes like I don’t know my purpose, or that maybe I never had one. I mean, at least a clock has a definite reason to exist. It says so right on its face. But what about me?

According to Genesis 1, Man, Adam, was created to be fruitful and multiply, to take care of the rest of creation, to cultivate the ground (Gen. 2:5) and to name the animals (Gen. 2:20). Woman, Eve, was created to walk alongside Adam in these purposes (especially in the multiplying part).

But we can’t leave the search for our purpose there in the book of Genesis, can we? Our species has to be more than being gardeners and procreators.

I think a lot of people believe that life’s purpose is a career path—doctor, lawyer, pastor, teacher. Purpose might include jobs and relationships (marriage and children). But is that all it is?

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life is when you’re born and the day you find out why.” I think that is clever, but I also think it’s not really complete. I don’t think that one day we wake up with an epiphany as to why we were created and from that moment on, our path is set.

I truly believe that our purpose in life is not a destination, but a journey. This is not my original thought, of course. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson first said it. If this is true, then our purpose on earth is a moveable feast (thank you Mr. Hemingway), so that makes it hard to nail down one purpose. Unlike the clock, we are changing and growing and learning. Shouldn’t our purpose change, too?

Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?”  is a book I’ve read before, but I went back to read it again for this blog. It really convicted me and convinced me that I have it all wrong. Warren bases the book around five purposes that are all regarding God’s plan for each of us. Essentially these are 1) to bring God pleasure 2) to be a part of God’s family 3) to become Christ-like 4) to be shaped into God’s service 5) and to complete a unique mission given to each one of us. Using these as guides, I realize it doesn’t matter what my vocation or hobby or daily pursuit is, my purpose can be lived out in whatever direction I go.

My direction may vary often, even daily, but my purpose does not. Purpose is not what I do, but who I am. And who I am will also determine what I do. If who I am is a clock, then I will keep correct time. (The metaphor works in there somehow.)  But as a creation of the Almighty One, my life, according to Rick Warren again, is a test, a trust, and a temporary assignment—a dress rehearsal for eternity.

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (Ephesians 1:11 MSG)

Don’t Steal My Thunder

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase. It means to take someone else’s idea, using it for your own advantage, or to preempt someone else’s rhetorical impact. (Another literary word for this is plagiarism, which, unfortunately, I see sometimes while grading college essays.) I digress.

Most adages, like this one, have curious origins. This saying came from a not-so-successful 18th century British playwright named John Dennis. Seems the guy had developed a new offstage sound effect for his play, Appius and Virginia, that simulated the sound of thunder. The play itself was not well-received. It closed quickly. Then a director, using the same theatre, took Dennis’ idea and used it for his production of Macbeth. John Dennis happened to be in the audience of this production when he heard his sound effect being used. Mr. Dennis was incensed and stood up in the theatre and shouted, “They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.”

During storms that have passed our way lately, I thought of this idiom. I realized how often we take credit for what God has done. How we try to steal His thunder. But we’re not the only ones who have done this. There is, of course, a biblical precedent for it.

Remember the Tower of Babel? You can read about it in Genesis 11.

The story starts like this: (quotes from The Message) “At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language.” Everything was great, right? Then the people became arrogant and decided to build a tower to elevate themselves with a building that would reach to heaven. And here is their reasoning: “They said, ‘Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.’” This did not please God, of course, and so He scrambled their speech so that they couldn’t understand each other. So “from there God scattered them all over the world.” That’s why there are so many languages today.

I’m not sure their purpose in all this. Not only did God’s people think that building a tower (or fortress) would make them famous—but that it would keep them from being scattered. The only thing I can figure out is that they were comfortable with their circumstances, warm and cozy, and they didn’t want that to change. They also had a built-in work ethic. They didn’t mind hard work, apparently, but their contentment led to boredom and they became self-absorbed, letting the can-do attitude take their eyes off of their Creator. This is something about which we all need to be careful, even if it is in doing God’s work. It’s too easy to look at our accomplishments and forget under whose power it was done.

In Philippians 3:3 (The Message) Paul writes “The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials.”

James speaks to those who have veered off course and are now hitting rock bottom. He writes, “Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:10)

Next time it thunders—remember—it is not your thunder. Neither is your strength your own. “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Phil. 4:13)

This Really Happened

Years ago, when we were serving in a small country church, a lady stood up in the Wednesday night prayer meeting and requested prayer. It was not for herself, she said, but for Laura. Seems Laura was going through a difficult time and needed God’s touch. Well, the church member went on to describe Laura’s woes. It seemed that Laura had a premonition that something bad was going to happen and it did. A friend of Laura’s was shot by a deranged acquaintance, Mickey, who has had amnesia since he returned from the Korean war…

And wait. What?

It didn’t take long for the rest of the congregation to realize that this prayer request was for characters on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. The pastor looked at the lady with sympathetic eyes and, finally realizing what the rest of us understood, he prayed for Laura while most of us snickered under our breaths. But for most of us, it was a time to realize that the truth can be skewed by a perception—even a sincere belief.

Many years ago, I heard this story that has stuck with me:

The three-alarm fire started in an upstairs bedroom. By the time the first responders arrived, the building was in full blaze. A young couple and their three-year-old son stood outside huddled together, all sharing a blanket.

“My baby, my baby is still in there!” the mother shouted. “She’s still in her crib.”

The brave fire fighter rushed into the burning building, battling the smoke and flames. Finally, he saw the infant’s crib. Quickly, the man grabbed the child, wrapped it in a blanket, and prayed that he’d make it out of the house alive with the baby. Outside, the mother rushed to the fire fighter, grabbed her baby, and began to thank the man for the rescue. But then, her relief turned to horror. As she peeled back the layers of the tiny blanket, she didn’t see the beautiful face of her child, but the artificial features of a life-like doll that had also been lying in the crib. The fire fighter truly believed that he had picked up the child, but he had been mistaken. A classic case of being sincere, but being sincerely wrong.

Sincerity and even honesty are revered in our culture. In fact, these are admirable traits in a biblical context as well. Paul writes in Philippians 4:8-9 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). How do we know what is true? It has to align with what the Bible teaches. Period.

I later found out that the lady in prayer meeting had a history of dropping out of reality and I was truly sad for her. Yet sometimes, we do the same thing by assessing a situation without having all the facts or by accepting a half-truth as the whole. That’s how gossip and spiritual tangents develop.

Paul addressed this in 2 Corinthians 10:5,“…[take] every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” To me this means that we should test everything that we hear or read before we start to believe it or internalize it. Many core beliefs are not based on Truths (those found in scripture), but on what we want to hear, “…wanting to have [our] ears tickled …”  (2 Timothy 4:3). It’s easy to mistake sincerity for Truth. So, test everything. Pray about everything. Don’t believe everything you hear.

P.S. As for Laura and Mickey, I’m sure they figured it out. We prayed for them anyway.

Perfect Peace

“I really enjoy reading your blob,” an elderly lady told me once. I thanked her, but didn’t correct her—that it was a “blog” and not a “blob.”

But as I walked away that day I thought, “Maybe what I write is a blob. Just like my meandering thoughts, my writing sometimes comes across as a jumble. No form. No point. No direction.”

Today doesn’t seem to be any different. Nothing going on much and not a lot of insights to share. However, here I am, computer in my lap trying to make sense of random, perceived messages and contemplations. (I am probably ADD or something, but I’ve decided that it’s okay since it allows me to multi-task when I need to. That’s just how I roll. Still the whirling dervish in my brain is frustrating at times.)

Today I came across a Bible verse I have read and heard many times. For some reason, however, it resonated with me afresh. My favorite prophet, Isaiah wrote this: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”  This is the prophet talking to God about me, I think. A mind that runs in many different directions makes it easy to focus on earthly things that aren’t that important. I would hardly ever call my mind steadfast on anything.

And what is perfect peace anyway? I mean, I have assurance about my salvation, but I’m not sure I’m really experiencing “perfect” peace in these days.

Matthew Henry commentary says, that perfect peace is  “…an entire satisfaction in him…” About trust, Henry writes, “Whatever we [rely on] the world for, it will be but for a moment…”

I’m working on keeping my mind steadfast on Him in hopes that I can experience perfect peace. I’ll let you know how that goes in later blobs.

What Can I Bring?

I’m from the South and there are certain things that we say and do that are, well… uniquely southern. For instance, recently someone asked me to a meal at her house. I accepted and then immediately asked, “What can I bring?” I always ask this, and almost always, the answer is “Just bring yourself.” This  time was no exception. It’s a polite, habitual exchange, at least around these parts. It’s just what we do.

One of the first songs that Dennis had published in the 1970s was a new tune to this anonymous text. It was a children’s song, but the beginning of his songwriting passion.

The wise may bring their learning,
The rich may bring their wealth,
And some may bring their greatness,
And some bring strength and health;
We too, would bring our treasures
To offer to the King;
We have no wealth or learning –
What shall we children bring?

I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but I (of course) want to hear it again.

We got paid in lobsters once.

Yeah, a church in Nova Scotia asked for an accompaniment track to one of the songs we had written. Dennis created it and didn’t charge the volunteer music leader a penny. The church was in a small fishing village and had very little money or resources.

A couple of weeks later, a large package arrived at our door – a special delivery box from Canada that said “Live Lobsters” stamped on the outside.  We opened up the package that had been shipped in dry ice and found thirteen live, but a little weary, lobsters straight from the sea. What a gift! For the receiver (us), it was quite beautiful and delicious. But for the giver (them), it was a true sacrifice…what they had to give.

Gospel writers, Mark and Luke, recorded an event that happened in the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was sitting there and watching people as they put in their money in the offering plate. The wealthy, of course, gave a lot, but not nearly so much that would cause them to go hungry or do without…anything. But a widow, who had only one coin, put it in the till. Only He knew that this was all the woman had to live on. Jesus was really impressed with her willingness to give everything she had to God and used this as an example to His disciples.

Then, Paul writes about the attitude of giving, not just the amount. “Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

Next time you get an invitation to a meal and ask, “What can I bring?” be willing to bring anything and everything, even if you suspect that the host will say “Just bring yourself.”

In fact, perhaps that may be the best gift of all.

Unity vs. Harmony

I love music. Always have and always will. My mother told me that I could hum the tune to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” before I could talk. Part of my affection for the art is hereditary (my dad sang in a gospel quartet) and the other part is just an inborn ability that I was encouraged to cultivate.

I remember singing hymns in “big church.” I still love and remember so many of those great, old songs.  But we sang in Sunday School, too. Now every Sunday I sing a little tune I learned there, and the words that go like this:

Sunday morning/clear and cool

I meet my friends at Sunday School.

Friends of mine/are friends of Jesus

He’s a friend to me.

I have no idea who wrote it, but it has been a part of my Sunday routine for over 60 years.

As I got a little older, I became a part of a children’s choir at my church. (Oh, that we would revive this tradition!) I learned there that when everyone sings the same note at the same time, it’s called unison. Then, as I got even older, unison meant that, yeah, we sang the same note, but the boys sang it an octave lower…ideally.

Next, I learned about harmony. First, it was alto. Someone sang the melody, the “lead,” and someone else sang another note below it. My dad taught me how to hear that alto note and sing it. Then, in youth choir, (again, that we would revive this tradition!) I started hearing “boy notes”—tenor and bass. Imagine, everyone singing a different note and it sounding beautiful. (Well, most of the time anyway.) When I got to college and sang in the university chorale, we added many more parts and it became down right heavenly.

All of this to say that it dawned on me recently that when we strive for unity in the world or in the church, that’s a good thing, even though men and women actually have different takes on that, just like in unison singing. Oh, that we would see things exactly the same way—what a world that would be!

However, just as wonderful would be to live in harmony. Each singing a different note, but blending and making an incredible sound. Why can’t we do that? Why not blend ideas and passions? Can we not hold our own pitches and let others do the same and together make beautiful…well, you know?

I don’t believe that unity in the world is feasible. There’s too much hate and deceit and influence of evil forces. It’ll never happen. But in the church, yes, it’s possible that we can have unity, especially about things that are irrefutable. Like the Truth.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

Some ideas are non-negotiable, like the truth of the Bible. We must be united in those things.

Though harmony might not be a reality in this diverse world, it is feasible, when it includes listening to each other and treating the other person, and his or her ideas, as valuable. Here’s the idea, especially in the church. Paul writes,

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. ( Romans 12: 16-18)

A good word. And another from the same guy.

And above all…put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:14 -15)

What Do You Say?

I went out to eat this week. As the waiter handed me a menu, I thanked him. When he brought me my food, I thanked him. When he handed me the bill, I thanked him. And when I paid him, he thanked me.

This exchange brought back the words of my parents. When I was a child and someone gave me something (whether I liked it or not), my mother would ask me, “What do you say?” The answer was always “thank you.” Later in my teens, my mother had me write “thank you” notes for every gift. By this time, saying thank you was becoming not an option, not an obligation, but a habit.

At every meal, Daddy would say the blessing…or grace…or give thanks. “Lord, make us thankful for these and all the many blessings we have received,” was his usual prayer. Occasionally, an addendum was added for healing, or safety, or peace, before the “amen” was said. Then we ate. So the act of giving thanks was engrained in me.

When I became a mom, I followed that path and asked my boys, each time they received a compliment or a gift,  “What do you say?” They, sometimes robotically, said “thank you.”

I believe that giving thanks became a habit, but as with any habit, it loses its power and effectiveness when it is done subconsciously (without thought). So, I’m trying to be intentional with my thankfulness. With each new day, I try to remember to tell God “thank you.” With each answered prayer, I tell Him “thank you.” However, when the day is dreary or the news is bad or the answers are elusive, I have to make myself give Him thanks. Is that a bad thing?

Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This letter to the believers at Thessalonica, was among the first of Paul’s epistles that became part of our present version of the Bible. At the time of his writing this letter, Paul had been through some trials and tribulations, but the worst of his persecution was yet to come. It would get worse, much worse.

A few years ago, we visited the Mamertine Prison in Rome, Italy. It is the place where Paul and Peter (not at the same time) were imprisoned before their deaths. Although it’s now a shrine that tourists can visit, the original was just a hole in the ground, a dungeon that was dark and damp and horrifying. This was not the first time Paul had been imprisoned, but it was the last time. This prison was a holding cell for people who were to be executed soon. So if you found yourself in Mamertine, you weren’t long for this world. However, Paul wrote this, his last letter, to Timothy from Mamertine,  “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience…” (2 Timothy 1:3)

Remembering to be thankful, no matter the circumstances, is hard. But if I force myself to say thanks, I believe it is a good thing. I just ask myself that old question, “What do you say?”

I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.(Philippians 4:12)

The Fear Not Factor

It was called Infantile Paralysis and though I don’t remember it, since I was only two years old, my sister and I actually had this virus—the virus we now know as polio. A few months after we had the virus, the vaccine became available and was distributed, subsequently eradicating the disease.

Even though my sister and I didn’t have any long-term effects from polio, I’m aware that this virus not only killed, but maimed millions of people before it was finally eliminated. I understand, too, that for many years before and after our illness, there was fear and panic and despair much like now with the present pandemic. Like COVID-19, this virus had a mind of its own. It could kill or not. It could make someone very ill or not. No one knew how a body would respond. But the epidemic hit our little southern town just as the vaccine was coming out.

I remember, later on, seeing pictures of people, children and adults, having to spend the rest of their lives in leg braces or a contraption called an “iron lung”—a casket-like device that moved paralyzed muscles that were required for breathing. Without it, the victim would suffocate. It was a horrible disease, and though I don’t remember much about my family’s bout with it, I know that the fear of it was very real.  (And the idea that it only affected children, infantile paralysis was no longer regarded as true. After all, President Franklin Roosevelt had it as an adult.)

We are born with a certain amount of fear. It is natural. Doctors say that humans have two inborn fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. In so many cases, fear is good. It helps us run from danger. However, the kind of fear that we develop as we get older, is born out of a feeling that we are out of control of the future. And we are. But that’s where this emotion becomes a problem. We are afraid of what we cannot see, touch, or hear. We don’t know what will happen, so we often don’t venture into that great unknown.

As believers we add guilt to our fear. Fear is the absence of faith, right? And without faith, we cannot please God. Jesus spoke about fear to His disciples in the Upper Room. “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1). However, right after this Jesus had a sense of fear Himself. “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me!” (Matthew 26:39, GNT)  He knew what was ahead, and yet He still dreaded the pain of betrayal, of the whip, and of the nails that would be driven into His hands. He did not fear death, however. He knew that He would overcome that and, in doing so, overcome it for us, too.

Mr. Roosevelt said this in his first presidential inaugural  address, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes…”

Fear can be paralyzing much like the poliomyelitis virus. It can keep us from walking, venturing out, and even breathing. The only way to banish this plague is to do what Jesus said in the garden just before His arrest and torture.  “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” An old adage says, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.”

He’s Got This

Our backyard

Just a few days ago, for almost a week, we were SNOWED in. As I write this, the temperature outside is a balmy 70.

I recently saw a funny meme about our unpredictable weather here in Tennessee. It said our region actually has 12 seasons. They are, or so it says:

  1. Winter
  2. Fool’s Spring
  3. Second Winter
  4. Spring of Deception (where we are now)
  5. Third Winter
  6. The Pollening
  7. Actual Spring
  8. Summer
  9. Hell’s Front Porch
  10. False Fall
  11. Second Summer
  12. Actual Fall

This is supposed to be a lighthearted jab at our present condition, of course, but it speaks more to me than that. It’s a message on the unpredictability of things, such as weather and seasons, life and death, day and night—events that only God can control.

There is a lot of discussion these days about climate change and how we, as humans, have caused it. I don’t believe that we have been good stewards as we were instructed. Of course, we need to take care of the planet. In the second chapter of Genesis, God declares that humans were put in a perfect environment, and charged with the task of maintaining it—of caring for it. Being aware of our responsibility to our Creator and His handiwork, I believe, is important. But I also believe that in taking this responsibility more seriously of late, we’ve forgotten Who made it and Who sustains it. And we somehow start to believe that we are the only ones who can fix it.

Several verses in Psalm 104 portray Creator and His creation in a beautiful poetic way. This speaks to the title “He’s Got This.”

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.

He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.

“All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.”

Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, grew up in a strict Calvinist family. However, he became a confirmed deist in adulthood. A deist believes that God created the universe, but that He left it to its own devices. In other words, He spoke us into being, spun us into orbit, and let us go. There’s no need to pray since God isn’t listening. Scripture doesn’t support this idea.

In one place, Paul is explaining the work of the Trinity. He says that all parts of that entity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit are actually One—Him. He writes in Col. 1:16-17 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

In this time of uncertainty and perhaps feelings of impending doom—the virus, the weather, the unsavory events in politics—remember that God, Who made it all, is still in control of it all.

Daniel, of lion’s den fame, wrote this about the hand of God:

“He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2: 21-22)

Good to know. Important to remember.

For the record, in 1787, at the opening of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin called on those gathered to open each session with prayer. Perhaps Franklin, who didn’t believe in prayer, was exercising some diplomacy. Or maybe he was starting to believe in the existence of God’s providential care by recognizing His creative and sustaining hand on a brand new nation.