A Word of Commitment from Elizabeth Rice Handford

In the last ten years, more than 7.3 million people have been welcomed as naturalized citizens of the United States. Every single one of those new citizens stood before a U.S. official, put their right hands over their hearts, and said aloud,

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same . . .and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

With their clear and passionate commitment to our flag and our country, how might those new citizens feel about the NFL athlete who “takes a knee” on public television to show his deep disrespect for his country’s flag? Especially surprising, when in the country he despises, he had the freedom to earn a million dollars?

How would the three million refugees now in America passionately waiting for citizenship feel when they see the U.S. flag burned by a hate-filled mob? They know and understand the blessed freedom the United States gives every citizen.

Sure, our dear country has a host of ills that need to be fixed. We are all broken human beings, sinful and selfish. That’s true for all of us, elected officials and judges, police and military, business and professional leaders, and us ordinary citizens, too. Our Pledge of Allegiance affirms we are undivided, but we are unfortunately divided about too many things. Why not focus on the values that unite us? They are so much more important than the things we disagree on. Have we focused so much on diversity that we’ve forgotten how much we have in common?

We all value this blessed land of opportunity. We all cherish human life, We are free to worship God as we choose. We can earn an honest living. What a gift that is to give our children! How many millions of parents wish their children could inherit it, too.

The place to begin? First, in the hearts of us Christians. In our confession of our great need, individually and as a nation. In our earnest prayer for God’s healing on this beloved land.

If my people,
who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

Dear God, please do bless America and turn our hearts back to You!