Tuesday, June 14, 2016

After Orlando: Lowering the Flag

After the gunman shot, killed, and wounded so many Americans in Orlando Sunday, the President and Governor ordered the flags to be flow at half-staff. I'm not usually the one who lowers the flag, but this time, I volunteered to do it. 

It turned out to be one of the most sorrowful tasks I've ever had to perform.

Half-staff means the American flag is lowered, traditionally to the half-way point of the staff, or flag pole. (Half-mast, though in common use, is a term reserved for shipboard flags.) 

To position the flag at half-staff, it must first be raised quickly to the highest position, then lowered slowly. It's to be saluted while being raised or lowered. 

The flag was already at the top of the pole, so I lowered it. It's hard to lower the flag and salute it at the same time, so I saluted in my heart. 

Tears trickled down my face as I adjusted the flag and thought about my fellow Americans who had died in the attack in Orlando. Many of them were the age of my son. 

There are mothers and fathers whose hearts are broken, almost beyond repair. There are sisters and brothers who can never regain what was taken from them. All in the name of hate and evil. I can hardly bear it. 

We've lost more than those fifty people who died, more than those 53 who were injured. We've lost the joy and hope of all those who loved them. They may regain their joy at some point, but it will not be today. Nor for many days to come.

I wept for them all.

Because the Mississippi flag flies under the American flag, there's a big expanse of flag fabric, and it covers a significant part of the pole. I lowered the flags, secured the rope, and stepped back. It looked nice, but it wasn't right. 

I adjusted the position of the flags, secured it again. Changed it again.

The last time, I realized the problem. I raised the flag to the top, slowly lowered it until the Mississippi flag approached (but didn't touch) the ground, and raised it up just a bit. The American flag was at half-staff. Maybe a little below it.

I stepped back and saluted. I knew it looked low, but I left it. If you see our flag, it might catch your attention because of its position on the pole. 

I left it there, on behalf of the American people, as a symbol of humility and deep sorrow. 

It's not the first time we've had to lower the flag in the last few years. It won't be the last. 

We've had a terrorist attack on American soil. Again. Yes, it was a hate-crime, but it was also a terrorist attack. The cover of protection we've enjoyed for more than two centuries is gone. 

I'm not sure we'll ever get it back.

I know one thing for certain, though. If we want to enjoy the favor of God again, we have to make some changes. 

Now is the time to put aside our stubborn pride and humble ourselves before Almighty God. 

We need more than congressmen and women singing "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capital building. We need to, individually and corporately, get on our faces before God and repent of our godlessness. We need to return to Him and His ways.

We need to stop trusting in our own ability to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and trust the One who has provided every good and perfect gift that has come our way.

We need to stop chasing the American Dream and start chasing the Will of God and His plans. 

My fellow Americans, we cannot continue as we are, for evil is rampant. Our leaders lie with impunity and grasp at power as if it could sustain them when hard times come. It cannot.

There is no blessing on evil.

There is no blessing on hate.

The blessings of God are given as He desires. What He wants is a relationship with His people and righteousness in them. We're a long way from that now.

If our great nation is to be saved, we must turn back toward God. We must humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, seek God's face. 

As I stood before that half-staff flag and wept, I realized the flag was in a position of humility, but I'm afraid our hearts are not. 

I have made a start at my own problem of repentance and humility, of besieging heaven on behalf of our nation, but I cannot do it alone. And I don't have to. Men and women across this country have felt the same call I have felt. And they, too, have responded with tears and repentance and a renewed sense of humility and fervor. They, too, are praying for our nation.

In the name of Jesus, please join us in prayer for our nation. Let us humble ourselves together. I fear we are headed in a deadly direction, and destruction will come. It will not be pretty.

We must mourn with those who mourn. We must weep with those who weep. But when the mourning and weeping are done, we must rise up with humility and repentance. 
Here's the link to yesterday's post: After Orlando

#Orlando #714 #pray #linesfromleanna