Some people believe in coincidences - those related incidents that seem to happen in complete isolation from one another. And sometimes, I suppose, those incidents are coincidental. Sometimes, however, I don't think they are coincidental at all.
Let me give you a big for instance.
A couple of weeks ago - in my annual Fourth of July column - I found myself bemoaning the fact that we, as a nation, seem to be drifting away from the Judeo-Christian principles upon which we were founded. Now don't hear something I am not saying. I am not suggesting that everybody in America should be a Christian or a Jew. Religious toleration has been a part of our heritage since the first hippie, Roger Williams, was run out of the Puritanical Massachusetts Bay theocracy for having the audacity to suggest that the Native American tribes should be paid for the land the English were taking from them. Williams and his followers would found the colony of Rhode Island and welcome all peace-loving people, regardless of religious affiliation or lack of same.
That attitude caught on and when our Founding Fathers got around to writing the Constitution - a century or so later - the First Amendment guaranteed that the government would not interfere in an individual's desire to worship - or not worship - as he or she saw fit.
But that does not change the fact - and, yes, I said fact - that our nation was founded on the moral and spiritual principles set forth in the Bible. And throughout our history we have depended on God Almighty to guide us as a nation. If you don't believe me, just take a little road trip up to Washington, D.C., and examine the documents housed in the National Archives and examine the art and architecture of our government buildings.
Our courts may have ruled that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed on courthouse lawns across America, but they haven't been removed from the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of the land. And we may not start our school day with prayer, but Congress still does - a custom dating back to a suggestion by Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention.
At any rate, that's sort of what I wrote about on July 4th. Naturally I got a few long, long letters from blowhards who think they know about the history of the Republic, telling me how wrong I was for writing that particular column. I didn't read any of them, but I got them. But I wrote my column and got a few things off my chest and assumed that that would be that.
But it wasn't. And this is where the coincidence that isn't began. Thanks to the bizarre school calendar under which we now operate, less than a week after eating watermelon and watching fireworks from the balcony of the condominium we had rented at the beach, I found myself sitting in my normal pew at Salem Campground. God originally intended that camp meeting at Salem commence on the Friday before the second Sunday in August, but we've had to adapt, as of late.
It was a rather warm Saturday night and we were getting ready to hear the preacher from Texas, Dr. David Dykes, that Sam Ramsey had told us so much about for so long. Dr. Dykes is really from L.A. - Lower Alabama - but has been serving as pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, since 1991. Sometimes folks don't live up to the buildup they are given. David Dykes has exceeded his. He wasn't three minutes into his sermon before I knew that he and I speak the same language. The main points of his sermon could have been taken right from my column and the message was one that we all need to hear.
Those of us who believe in God and believe that our nation should continue to rely on the Almighty for guidance and direction need to wake up and realize that we are about an inch and a half away from giving away our birthright as a nation. We have let revisionist historians rewrite our history and we have let activist judges rewrite our Constitution and we have let a small minority of loud and obnoxious naysayers guilt us into silence and inactivity when we should be standing up and loudly proclaiming our heritage as "one nation, under God."
In the early 18th century, when the American colonies had begun to stray from God, a New England minister named Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," calling for a return to traditional religious values. The outshoot became the first Great Awakening - a religious revival that swept the nation. A hundred years later there was a Second Great Awakening. This wave of religious fervor spawned camp meetings and itinerant preachers and brought men like John and Charles Wesley to the fledgling Georgia colony to preach the Gospel.
I think it is past time for another Great Awakening in this country, and I think David Dykes's Saturday night message was as good a place to start as any.
If you don't believe we need a revival in this nation, you don't need to do anything at all. If you do, however, stand up and say so - and, better still, do something about it. You can begin by showing up at Salem for camp meeting. You have three more nights to get there.
As I've said before, it couldn't hurt - and it may change your life. And it might just help save the greatest nation on Earth.