Do you know a turning point when you see one?
I love the Bible story (1 Kings 18:41-46) about Elijah’s prayer for rain, at the end of seven years of terrible drought in the land of Israel. He climbs to the top of Mount Carmel to pray, bowing his head to the ground seven times, before his servant reports seeing – out over the wide, empty blue skies of the Mediterranean – the rise of one tiny cloud, “about the size of a man’s hand.”
“Run,” Elijah tells him. “The deluge is upon us!” And so it was.
And so it well may be. For any lover of religious freedom, the last eight years have marked a terrible drought in state and federal courts, in many legislatures nationwide, and certainly at the hands of an administration whose leaders have hardly bothered to hide their contempt for the convictions of people of faith. For those who put a premium on the sanctity of life and the priority of religious freedom, the results of this election are cause for cautious hope.
That’s not a political endorsement. We simply know from the stated objectives of one candidate and many of the initial overtures of the other, now victorious, that our ideals and objectives seem likely to find a warmer reception with the team of the president-elect than they did with his now-vanquished opponent. The same holds for the newly elected majorities in the House and Senate.
The great, costly fight for religious freedom continues. What has changed, for the moment, is the momentum (not the intent) of our most obvious and aggressive adversaries. What we are seeing is the opening of some windows of opportunity that were most assuredly closing a month ago.
A small cloud is rising, way out over our seas of frustration, and we have reason for hope and special cause for thanksgiving, in this season of giving and gratitude.
But, as Elijah noted, hope brings with it a call to action.
That what freedoms we still enjoy have survived these eight long years of “drought” is due entirely to the abounding grace of God, in particularly as expressed through the extraordinarily generous prayers, encouragement, and financial support of our faithful ministry friends coast-to-coast and all over the world.
Because you enabled, equipped, and prayed for our soldiering attorneys to remain “in the field,” we were able to block some terrible expansions of the Obamacare mandate… head off many brutal expansions of those pressing the pro-abortion agenda… preserve key speech rights on campuses across the nation… and negotiate several crucial victories at the U.S. Supreme Court.
You’ve also enabled us to forestall some of the ill judicial winds blowing this way from international tribunals – winds that could only have filled the sails of those determined to reset the course of American freedom.
Because your faithfulness has made it possible for us to do these things, we are not only more free than we had any reasonable right to expect in the aftermath of such determined, unrelenting opposition… but we are uniquely positioned to pivot, in the days ahead, from defense to offense in a way we could hardly have hoped just a few weeks ago.
No, the war for freedom is not over. It never will be. Those bent on destroying our nation’s legacy of religious liberty and free speech, of genuine tolerance and sacred regard for life, will never cease from their striving or lay back on their laurels. Nor will their vast treasury soon run dry.
And, while an enormous tide has turned, and favorable winds seem once more to be blowing our way, it remains to be seen what the effects of these sudden, extraordinary changes will truly mean, in the courts and classrooms and media outlets and legislatures of our nation.
What we do know and can be sure of (as a dear friend shared with me the day after the election) is what the Jewish priest Ezra knew, so long, long ago:
“And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:8)
“Millions have been praying for mercy,” my friend said, “and He has graciously given it. In spite of our national sins, the grace of God at work. May we express proper gratitude, and turn back to Him in repentance... we cannot waste this moment of mercy!”
Amen, and indeed, we cannot. Now – for every person of faith, who has watched with concern these recent years the dangerous directions our culture and government and even many of our churches were drifting – is the time for contrite confession, for humble thanksgiving… and for girding for action.
We look forward to standing beside you in this new day, working together for God’s glory, and for the expansion of every opportunity He provides to keep a door open for the Gospel.
May this new, small cloud of hope become showers of blessing – and may we be given all we need to run boldly into the vast future ahead.