Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lasts

We remember our "firsts," don't we. Our first bike, our first day of school, our first date. We remember a whole lot of "firsts" for our kids. First steps, first birthdays, first sleep through the night, first tooth, first word. We celebrate the "firsts." They represent a new beginning, a moving forward into new territory.

"Lasts" aren't really like that, are they. We don't always know when the last time is at hand. I don't remember the last time I nursed my last baby. I don't remember the last words I spoke to my brother, nor the last time my toddler asked me to hold her with arms reaching upward. I didn't relish the last time my children woke up and crawled in bed with us because I didn't know it was the last time. We don't notice.

My calendar showed that Thursday was to be a very busy day. I got the girls started with their schoolwork and was supposed to head off to work. Instead, I lingered in the house that didn't look much like a home and decided to tidy up a bit. As I tackled the dishes and straightened the pantry, the voice from the radio on the kitchen counter was trying to invade my thoughts. It was in the periphery until the words spoken so casually penetrated so deeply...."This could be the last National Day of Prayer."

I fell to my knees under the weight of the casual statement. Mike had been up late the night before writing out his eight minute Prayer of Repentance he would speak from the statehouse steps at noon that day. He had left unusually early that morning for a prayer breakfast at 7am. I was already well-aware that it was the National Day of Prayer. I had also heard in the preceding weeks of the court ruling that rendered, with the mere stoke of a pen, National Days of Prayer unconstitutional.

But it was the announcement that this could be the "last" that took my feet out from under me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with urgent desire to be there. I needed to be there, to take the girls. To be a part, to be [set] apart.

I packed them up quickly; they shouldered their schoolwork-burden in their book bags with questioning eyes; we met Mike and prayed for one hot and humid hour on the statehouse grounds.

While we made our desperate drive to our divine appointment, this woman on a mission explained to her young daughters what exactly had made her snap. I shared with them that our founding fathers called for days of prayer and fasting long before we were even a nation. From Washington onward, we had a long history of presidential proclamations prompting Americans to pray. There were mini-lessons on:

  • freedom of religion, despite the fact that our founders were men deeply committed to Christ alone.
  • the absence of the phrase "separation of church and state" from our nation's legal documents and its true origin and intent.
  • the sad fact that a country founded on Christian principles by Christians is dissolving into a secular, humanistic, and atheistic society.

I spouted off warnings to google-eyed, jaw-dropped pre-teens that were wondering who body-snatched their mother, that this event would not seem monumental. It would be hot, and probably boring. It won't seem like a big deal, but it's a big deal -- It could be the Last.

So we prayed that day, making government land holy ground. We prayed for the future of our nation, the leaders our kids would need to become to fight for their history and their future. We begged for God's mercy and forgiveness and thanked Him for freedom, a rich heritage and tradition steeped in godliness. As I prayed for our nation's officials and the overturning of a court ruling, I prayed that my girls' first National Day of Prayer wouldn't be their last.
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