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I Am a Patriot

04 Nov

I have a song in my head tonight.

It could have been a normally night tonight, but it is the eve of the elections. The “most important election of our lifetimes” as I am told by an email sitting in my inbox. Certainly a historic election, no doubt about it. We are about to elect either the first female vice president or the first African-American president. We can pretend that gender and race have nothing to do with the presidential election, but gender and race have never been more of an issue.

With all of the issues swirling tonight, I have a song on repeat in my mind.

I’m silently singing in my time of conflict. Never before has the political process presented itself with so much conflict for me. And so I have been asked, “Who are you voting for?” Of course, they do not mean who I am voting for in the race for Coroner in Sumter County. (Yeah…the Hancock vs. Harris race hasn’t drawn the attention of the McCain vs. Obama race.) My reply has been consistent. I am undecided.

I have been surprised at the reaction I have received when I tell people that I am undecided. It has bought both shock, dismay, and concern…undecided?!?

I am undecided.

Too be clear, “undecided” doesn’t mean I am pro-Obama and anti-McCain. Nor does it mean that I am pro-McCain and anti-Obama. I am undecided.

I am undecided and I am still a patriot. This is where the song (and the conflict) comes in.

The song I have been singing in my head today is “I Am a Patriot” written by Steven Van Zandt recorded by Jackson Browne and made popular by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. (Here is a good cover by Michelle Branch.)

This song says so much. Downloading it in iTunes has been the best $0.99 I have spent this month. Here are my thoughts:

“I Am a Patriot”

Performed by Jackson Browne

World in Motion (1989)

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous someday

This is the prophetic message of the song that most people miss. There is a river of life which we all want to tap into. We all want to experience life, real life. The alternative is death and everything within us says that death is an enemy. Life is available, but it opens for the righteous. More on this later on…

I was walking with my brother

And he wondered what’s on my mind

I said what I believe in my soul

Ain’t what I see with my eyes

And we can’t turn our backs this time

Here is the conflict for me, because “what I believe in my soul ain’t what I see with my eyes.” What I believe in my soul is that my citizenship is in heaven. Honestly I have dual citizenship. I have been created here on earth and this world is my home. I am a citizen of this planet (and specifically the United States). But I am also a citizen of heaven, because I have been born by God’s created act and born again by God’s redemptive act in the sending of his Son.

What I believe in my soul is…the kingdom where I pledge my allegiance is not of this world.

What I believe in my soul is…this world is passing away.

What I believe in my soul is…the kingdom where I pledge my allegiance is not of this world.

What I believe in my soul is…the King is returning to bring heaven to earth.

But I “can’t turn (my) back (on) this time.”

My times are in God’s hands. This time is in God’s hands. This time requires my involvement. I cannot turn my back on this world and it’s systems of government. I can’t put my head in the political sand and hope it all goes away, even if I am wearied by all of the campaign talk. After all I am a patriot…

I am a patriot

And I love my county

Because my country is all I know

I want to be with my family

The people who understand me

I’ve got nowhere else to go

I am a patriot. I do love my country. I am thankful for the freedoms I experience, particularly the freedom of religion. A freedom I hope my Christian brothers and sisters in India soon get to experience. I love my country and I thank God for the prosperity we have experienced. I don’t assume these things or take them for granted. I thank God for them.

I love my country, but I love it without loving it.

I love it without idolizing it.

I love it without worshipping it.

I love it without putting too much faith in it.

I love it without putting all my hope in it.

I love it without loving it.

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous someday

The prophetic hope is for rivers of righteousness to be opened…someday. That day is coming. More on this later.

And I was talking with my sister

She looked so fine

I said, “Baby, what’s on your mind?”

She said, “I want to run like the lion

Released from the cages

Released from the rages

Burning in my heart tonight”

Later covers of this song replace the word “sister” with “girlfriend,” but I like the original. This is sister in a biblical sense, “sister” as in a fellow child of God. It is ok to say that your sister “looks so fine.” What is own her mind is what is on all of our minds…freedom. To run free of cages and rages, to run free from those things that debilitate. The Righteous King says he came to set the captive free…

And I ain’t no communist

And I ain’t no capitalist

And I ain’t no socialist

And I ain’t no imperialist

And I ain’t no democrat

And I ain’t no republican

I only know one party

And it is freedom

This is why I am undecided, because I claim no ideologies of the empires…not communist empires, not capitalistic empires, not socialist empires, not imperialist empires, not democrat empires, and not republican empires.

My hope is no longer in the empires.

My hope is no longer in the policies of man, but in the kingdom of God.

My hope is not with the donkeys or the elephants, but the Lamb.

I am, I am, I am

I am a patriot

And I love my country

Because my county is all I know

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

Someday

I am a patriot and I love my country…both of them, both the country of my birth and the heavenly country of my rebirth. The prophetic hope is in the King, in his work, past, present and future. King Jesus came to set people free. He died, was buried and rose up from the dead to set us free and make us righteous. The river does open for the righteous, but none of us our righteous, no, not one. Jesus was totally righteous and he took our place. He took on our unrighteousness in his death so we could receive his righteousness through his resurrection.

He has sent his Spirit to continue his liberating work and someday he will return to set up his heavenly kingdom in his good creation. I will walk into the voting booth and cast my vote, but in my heart I will be crying out to the King saying, “Come Lord Jesus!”

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4 Comments

Posted by on November 4, 2008 in Life

 

Tags: , ,

4 responses to “I Am a Patriot

  1. katiecutehair

    November 4, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Derek,
    Thanks for this posting. It was really refreshing to hear thoughts in a non-partisan tone. Happy Election Day!

     
  2. katiecutehair

    November 4, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Derek,
    Thanks for this posting. It was really refreshing to hear thoughts in a non-partisan tone. Happy Election Day!

     
  3. katiecutehair

    November 4, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Derek,
    Thanks for this posting. It was really refreshing to hear thoughts in a non-partisan tone. Happy Election Day!

     
  4. Chris Bowers

    November 5, 2008 at 6:55 am

    And all God’s children sing out glory glory, hallelujah He reigns.

    Fabulous post.

     

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