Dear America,

Land that I love. The place I call home. The nation that lives in my heart. I’m thankful that I was born here. I’m so grateful that my family emigrated here from various locales. Some only three generations ago. Some much, much longer.

There’s no other place I’d rather live. Oh, it’s fun to travel. To meet people from other countries. To see sights that are so different from home. But America, you are the place that lives in my heart no matter where I go. You are my childhood. I have memories of playing outdoors at night with wide open skies filled with too many stars to count and too many hopes and dreams to contain in one little lifetime.

I grew up in the Midwest in a time when families went to church and Sunday school on Sundays. We had our immediate family. Our extended family. And our church family. Were any of them perfect? Of course not. But when trouble came, we all came together, becoming better than when we were apart.

We tried to live by the precepts of the Bible. We used it as our guidebook and our moral compass. A friend once told me that she had lived her 90-plus years with this concept. She said, “If you want to know if something is true or right, just look in the Bible. If it’s in there, you’ve got your answer.”

In school, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. We stood up in the classroom next to our desks with our right hands placed over our hearts and said the words with meaning.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

One nation under God.

Not one nation that is rewriting God into a more palpable, acceptable and controllable deity. Not one nation who no longer believes in God. Not one nation that thinks it’s God.

No, one nation under God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God who created heaven and earth. The God who created man in his own image and breathed into Adam the very breath of life. His holy breath. The same God who deserves our worship and praise.

The same God who sent his son, Jesus, to earth to take our place on the cross. He became the very “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). The God who loves us, pursues us, cares for us and forgives us. Who is compassionate and giving. The God who heals, redeems and renews us. With loving-kindness, our God is righteous, all-knowing, gracious and sovereign.

The God who loves us with an everlasting love is the same God this nation was founded upon. The same God who inspired men to write the Bible. The same God who guided the early leaders of our country to write the Constitution.

He is not a wishy-washy God who says, “Whatever you believe is okay. All roads lead to heaven. If you’re a good person, you’ll be okay. If you believe it, then it must be true.”

No, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We find that narrow way only through Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The Lord has given the prophet Ezekiel the office of Watchman for the house of Israel. In Ezekiel’s day a watchman on the wall would see danger approaching and sound the trumpet. The people would be warned. If they didn’t heed the warning, then whatever happened to them was their own fault. But if the watchman didn’t sound the alarm, their blood was on his hands.

In the same way, the Lord has called Ezekiel to warn the people who have turned from him. “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me” (Ezekiel 33:7).

The Lord tells Ezekiel, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O America?

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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