Jim and I spent a week in Philadelphia visiting historical sites we had never seen before. I’ve thought a lot about what we saw during those days. An old, three-story home filled with used books. But, only a few of those books were about God. Mansions filled with priceless art, décor, furniture, and history. The DuPont family were inventors, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and artists. But there was almost nothing in those mansions to indicate they were people of faith. We saw the Liberty Bell, the hall where the Constitution was signed, and Benjamin Franklin’s grave. We saw parks, churches, and crowds of people.
But, I didn’t lay awake thinking of all the places I had seen. What kept me up during the night? The people. The contrast between people today and people then. The differences in our lives, our schedules, and our values. And the biggest difference I saw was that powerful people worked for the prosperity of a nation rather than just for their personal gain. The people felt responsible for the country they lived in rather than asking the country to be responsible for them.
I have a “middle of the night” prayer I use when I can’t sleep. It comes from the prayer that Eli taught Samuel to pray in the middle of the night: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). I ask God who I need to pray for, what I need to fix in my own life, and if there is any direction or calling the Lord wants to give.
God seems to like to get my attention around 3 a.m., but I’ve noticed Satan likes the middle of the night as well. I’ve tried to develop a habit of applying God’s word to Satan’s worries. This habit is costing me some much-needed sleep lately! I keep wondering what words God wants me to write—and if I am writing them effectively.
Several of our early American leaders were brilliant in their use of the written and spoken word. Benjamin Franklin published his work, and many of his words are still remembered today. These quotes were especially profound:
Benjamin Franklin had to drop out of school when he was ten years old to help with his dad’s candle-making company. I hadn’t known how much of his brilliance and creativity was gained through his love of books, his love of learning. Benjamin Franklin was a self-taught scholar and thinker. He was brilliant, moral, and sacrificial with his knowledge and his life. I wouldn’t say Benjamin Franklin was a godly man, but he was a good man. I hope someone introduced him to the wisdom of God before he died.
I guess that is what kept me up through the night. I’ve been involved in several conversations in recent days that I lay awake thinking about, worrying about, and then finally remember to pray about. Our country and our culture have changed a lot since Benjamin Franklin wrote his words of wisdom. It was somehow encouraging to read between his lines and realize that he shared some of the same concerns for people that we have today.
There are always going to be kinks in the armor. There are always going to be people who choose wisdom and others who choose ignorance. And there will always be talkers and doers. I recently wrote an article for our ChristianParenting.org website that included an important video of three generations talking about how they spent their free time when they were kids. The message is powerful, and I encourage you to watch it.
This is a good time of the year to pray for our kids, their teachers, and their parents. I started the parenting website for our ministry because of an article I read and researched that spoke about the incredible importance of this young generation. This nation has straddled the 50/50 line in politics, and the generation that is headed to middle school this year is going to change that percentage significantly. But in what direction?
Our kids need prayer. Our kids need direction. Our kids need to turn off their computers, video games, and cell phones a little more often and pursue the presence of God in their lives. All of us have children we will influence. Pray that God would give you his will and wisdom to be a great influence in the lives of this young generation. They are profoundly important to the nation and the government that Benjamin Franklin helped create.
I was looking for a word of hope to close this blog post with and this verse came to mind. Isaiah wrote to a generation that was falling away from God, and Isaiah felt discouraged. These are the words God gave Isaiah to keep him going! God said, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
God told Isaiah to share his message with the culture. God’s word is always perfect, and it always hits the mark. If we share God’s word, it will find a place to take root and grow. Let’s pray for the chance to speak wise words through God’s Holy Spirit. That message will always have a good return . . . someday.