Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Last evening I went to my granddaughter’s school program. She is in 6th grade. It was not billed as a Christmas program or even a “holiday” program. But being the time of year and, past events and past years that had a “holiday” theme or even a Christmas theme, I had some expectation.

As far as I saw, there wasn’t a decoration, a tree, a candle anywhere to be seen.

The families came. They took pictures. They were excited to see their child perform. All seemed the same.

The children did well. The title of the program was “The Travelers, A Quest for Sunlight”. The Story line was a group of people had lived in darkness for too long and were seeking the light. The children sang, Simon and Garfunkle’s Sound of Silence,, the Beatles, Let It Be, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing”, U2’s “Stuck in the Moment”, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, and the final song was the Beatles’, “Here Comes the Sun”.

At first, I was angry at the lost opportunity and the message which was human-centric and “group-think”.

They almost got it right – but they missed it by a mile. We were in darkness but we didn’t have to go search for The Light. It has shined out of that darkness into our hearts in the person of Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that the light did shine in the darkness but the darkness did not comprehend it. I saw that last night.

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Our culture has moved away from the Truth. They are trying to un-Christmas – the greatest gift of light mankind has ever received. We don’t have to search in the darkness. The Light Has Come!

I am grieved by the loss of one of America’s great men. President George H. W. Bush was a true patriot – politics aside – statesman, gentleman and friend to my father. There are pictures that are etched in my mind…one is of the dog “Sully” who was pictured laying in front of the casket. Sully had served the President in many helpful ways the last months of his life. He served his Commander well.

There are those who disparaged that. I am not one of them.

Number 43 loved dogs – of all stripes. He loved his family. His friends. His country. He was a man of principle and pride but not necessarily pride in himself or his accomplishments. He was a “team player” but willing to admit his mistakes. He could fight tooth and nail but then take his opponent to lunch. Rare in our day – so many cannot understand that now. He was a prince among men.

A columnist with my same name has disparaged President Bush’s dog. It has come back on me. She is a columnist for a paper elsewhere and we do not think alike.

I think you all know me well enough to know I would not disparage this great man or his dog. I am sorry this has happened. I would not add an ounce of sorrow to this family’s grief.

As I said, there are many pictures etched in my mind. And more will be added in the next few days. It also brought back so many memories – bittersweet – of my own father’s passing and our trip up to Washington for him to “Lie in Repose” in the Rotunda. All good, sweet memories. But I do miss him so.

A friend gave this to me for this election season. It is a prayer written by Lloyd John Olgivy who was chaplain of the U.S. Senate. It seems appropriate on many levels.

Almighty God, Sovereign of our nation, thank You for the privilege of living in a free land where I have the opportunity to vote. Work through the election process so that people will be elected who will glorify You. Strengthen their commitment to trust You to guide them as they confront the problems and claim Your best for their realm of leadership. May they never forget that they are in office by Your choice and are accountable to You for how they lead. May the immense responsibilities they assume, and the vows they make when sworn into office, ring them to their knees with profound humility and unprecedented openness to You.

Save them from the seduction of power, the addiction of popularity, and the aggrandizement of pride. Lord, keep their priorities straight: You and their families first; the good of the nation second; the consensus around truth third; party loyalties fourth; and personal success last of all. May they never forget that they have been elected to serve and not be served. Consistently replenish the reserves of strength and courage so often drained by pressure and stress. Anoint their minds with our Spirit and guide them as they seek to know and do Your will in the crucial issues before my city, region, and nation. I firmly believe that this can be our country’s finest hour awaiting leaders imbued with Your power.”

Last year, as you may know, I attended the “Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians” in Washington, DC. I was so moved by what I heard and saw that I knew I had to do something.
I asked a few local pastors and Christian leaders to meet with me over lunch to talk about what we might be able to do in our area.

We decided on a “prayer gathering” on the “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted” on November 7th. We had about 500 people gather and we prayed – we talked about the needs of various areas and then we prayed! We didn’t talk about prayer, sing about prayer, preach about prayer – we prayed. It was a thrill for each one there – we felt God’s presence in a powerful way. It was thrilling!

Since then, we have met on a monthly basis to pray for our local pastors as well as to look to this year’s International Day of Prayer which is November 4th. It has been so rewarding to gather early on a Tuesday morning without coffee or “goodies” (until today thanks to my sweet friend, Peggy) and just pray for our churches to be aware, for pastors to be bold preaching God’s Word and especially those who suffer persecution simply because they love Jesus.

What a joy it was to see Andrew Brunson step off that plane in Germany on his way home! It’s what we have been praying for. And then to see him humbly kneel beside the President to pray for him. Tears streamed down my face. But for every Andrew Brunson there are 100s more. He was fortunate to be an American where the government would not forget him – not leave him behind. There are so many whose governments are the very ones oppressing and persecuting. It is dangerous to be a Christian in certain parts of the world.

According the the World Watch List, North Korea is #1 for persecution of Christians. That’s no surprise! (I am hoping that will soon change due to the opening of N. Korea to diplomacy.) Afghanistan is number 2. Somalia is number 3.

Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering.