America is great, in part, because Americans have clung to correct principles even when circumstances easily justified another course. Our country lay in economic ruin and many Americans found themselves in extreme poverty at the time the U.S. Constitution was established. Yet, men like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams kept their eyes focused on a time beyond their own and sacrificed personal interests, and fortunes, to lay a foundation for us. Many others, since, have followed in their footsteps.
Ironically, every crisis brings with it the best of times and the worst of times simultaneously. While some “never let a good crisis go to waste” and take advantage of every opportunity to consolidate power and trample the rights of the people, others stand firm and rise to the challenge, selflessly serving and sacrificing.
An eventful drive to Boise on a Sunday night a few weeks ago provided me with a mini-crisis and a choice. The wind was whipping across southern Idaho, recruiting every mangy tumbleweed anxious for adventure. It was as good as any video game I have ever played! Tumbleweeds, some as large as small trees, sometimes alone and sometimes in groups of three or four abreast, magically appeared in the glare of my headlights and came bounding frantically headlong toward my vehicle at terrific speeds, often striking my car with an energetic ‘whhaaack!’ before vanishing into the vacuum of that blustery night. At one time, I rounded a bend in a canyon and smashed through a whole wall of splintering brush which had been piled up like a barricade by the wind!
Of course, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, bracing myself against my harmless, but intimidating, challengers and, although I have to admit that I did my share of laughing in disbelief, every nerve was steeled against any inclination to leave the security of the bright yellow and white lines which marked the asphalt ribbon of safety stretching ahead toward my destination. Good drivers know that staying on the road is a top priority. No matter the challenges we face, the consequences tend to be much worse if one abandons the road.
Like my blustery night drive to Boise, current concerns about COVID-19 will someday be a distant memory, but our response to this challenge will have long-lasting consequences. If we allow ourselves to abandon basic constitutional principles during times of trouble, we may find, when the crisis is over, that it is more difficult than we anticipated, and perhaps impossible, to get entirely back on track. In addition, our decisions establish precedents that future generations will regret, or appreciate, when facing more severe crises. As James Madison, the father of our U.S. Constitution, cautiously counseled, “Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.”
It is my sincere hope that, during this time of public concern, America will stay on course as we care for our friends and neighbors, respect their needs and concerns, and steel our nerves against the inclination to desert fundamental principles of freedom in a panicked stampede for temporary security. Rather than being ruled by fear, let us turn to and petition our Creator in faith. I invite you to join people of faith in a world-wide fast for relief this Friday, April 10th.