By Brenda Black
Nearly a century ago, on Feb. 6, 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan entered the world. He won the admiration of movie-goers and two leading ladies, then the favor of the nation when he became the 40th President of the United States. Reagan died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93, but is still remembered for his landslide victory, more extreme than the most recent with a 489 electoral win over Jimmy Carter's 49. He was loved for his vast appeal and his indelible charismatic and colorful quotes still echo through history and bear the weight of wisdom that we might do well to heed in this generation.
“Facts are stubborn things,” Reagan said.
I would add that ignorance is not necessarily bliss. In order to realize success in any area of life, it is truth that is our greatest ally. The psalmist David put it this way: “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Ps. 119:29-32)
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Reagan said. “We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
The fact is, the truth which is found in Christ is our greatest freedom. The challenge is to instill that truth into the hearts of the next generation so that our freedom will not be lost. Reagan said, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” It's time to wake up and shake up the world with the Word of God!
It begins at home. As Reagan said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Our children must see faith in action as we offer thanks to God, not the government for our provisions. Our families must be taught the importance of honesty, hard work and purity and the advantages for living a life of integrity. It is up to parents to impart truth, not teach tactics for getting something for nothing or lying to get ahead or taking without giving. It begins by demonstrating personal faith and devotion to the One True God of all creation.
“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God,” the 40th President said, “then we will be a nation gone under.”
This surge forward in American history will be only as progressive as it is purposeful. And our purpose is to live for truth, not self-serving or worldly ambitions. Our eyes are supposed to be fixed on things eternal. Reagan said, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”
When times are tough, when temptations are tantalizing, when solutions to problems come from temporary fixes instead of time-honored truths, choose the better. Opt for truth.
“'I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“'Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.'” (John 3:24-30)
God is truth. “We are never defeated unless we give up on God,” Reagan charged.
On Feb. 6, 1911, Reagan was born. He left his mark on history by encouraging a nation and inciting Americans to seek God's wisdom and truth. Our purpose is no less historically critical. We are called by the Lord himself to walk in truth and lead others to do the same. A landslide victory for faithful living looks like heaven.
“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15)