Last Updated on July 14, 2018

This past summer, something amazing happened when our extended family traveled to my old stomping grounds in Washington, D.C., to take a tourist tour of the White House. I used to work on Capitol Hill, and had friends who worked in the White House, so I had been there several times. But I was thrilled to have a chance to introduce the kids to a place that holds such special meaning in our country.

But nothing could have prepared me for the moment when a tour guide stopped about 30 of us who just happened to be there at just the right time, and beckoned us outside. It turned out, the President was about to leave on Marine One, the presidential helicopter. If we wanted to, we were invited to head out to the back lawn and watch.

If we wanted?? Are you kidding?

Every person in that room had different political viewpoints, but as we walked out onto the awe-inspiring sweep of the back lawn, the white marble of that beautiful old building rising above us, we were unified with an almost indescribable sense of humility. And as we watched the helicopter coming in to land as it has for generations, and as we watched the President walk from the house and wave to us from only a few dozen yards away, board Marine One and fly away into the blue sky above the Washington Monument, I think we were all struck with the same sense of gratitude.

Where else but in our amazing country of the United States of America can an average group of people go out on the back lawn of the home and office that houses the head of state and the leader of the free world and participate in something like that? We stood with people from all walks of life, ages, nationalities, and political viewpoints and were close enough that (once the helicopter’s hurricane-force winds died down), we could have called something across to him if we wanted. Now, granted, there was also a Secret Service agent standing a few yards away, keeping a very close eye on us but still … what an unbelievable country we live in! Most countries have armed guards to prevent people from having that kind of access to the most powerful person in their country. And yet here in America it is open to average people, people like me and you, with no special political power or title.

One of our dear friends is a Palestinian Christian who has lived here almost 10 years. He became an American citizen right before Memorial Day. We had a group of six or seven families over for a Memorial Day picnic and we asked him to give the blessing. As he thanked God for his new country, and for so many things we take for granted, there was not a dry eye in the room. As he prayed, he reminded those of us who had lived here all our lives of what an amazing gift it is to be an American.

It occurs to me that there is a spiritual parallel to all of this.

Being a citizen of God’s kingdom also elevates average people like me and you to a position of access to the most powerful Person in the universe. Just like we often take our American citizenship for granted, we sometimes (or often) fail to exercise our freedoms as a child of God, such as the privilege to walk into the very presence of God through prayer. Wow!

On this President’s Day, let’s not forget either the gift we have in our country, or the far more important, and undeserved, gift we have of having been made citizens of heaven.

I’m curious … have you had an experience like mine where you were reminded just how grateful we should be for our country? And what are some of the privileges of being a citizen of God’s kingdom we sometimes (or often) forget to exercise?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment

  1. debbie ryals says:

    There are times when you just say “Thank God I’m an American”…ya know it? Times like when you land in Hawaii ½ way back from Samoa and the Customs and Immigration Desk treats you so special and warmly, asking you questions, genuinely glad to “have you back” even if only on an island off the coast of “the mainland.” Still, as we build a church in Western Samoa in the South Pacific, there are times we wish we could just “always be home,” of course…when we can’t find something simple like a “real” macaroni and cheese or even a yardstick! (cuz they measure in meters here)
    But, all in all, it’s a wonderful thing to represent our 2 kingdoms, America’s and God’s down here…and we’re seeing precious results as we show them ways America does things that are safer, healthier, purer. Like I just finished a True Love Waits Party for the single ladies and they so enjoyed that I shared what God says about how they can please him, stay clean and prepare for a wonderful future with a loving husband and no regrets, like God has given me!
    In Samoan culture, parents don’t talk very much to their daughters about these things, and so sadly, nature takes it’s course. Oh the sorrow of girls coming to me “after” they have become pregnant instead of before many times. Often then, the parents bar them from seeing the young man so they grow very lonely and troubled and desperate for peace in their future plans…
    Jesus has been there for them and holds them through it and I share with those still “untouched” how to avoid this distress, how to save themselves, how to “let Jesus be their boyfriend” for now…Joining me are my daughter, who rewrites songs on the radio turning them to Jesus hits, like “If you love me then you gotta put a ring on me” and “I just can’t STAND there and watch you burn, if you die and go to Hell then it will hurt” and “We almost lost it all, drownin’ in the deep,” to name a few….and then, my dear husband who preaches righteousness, shares Jesus wherever he goes during his busy days and brings out the best in people, encouraging them to speak English, (the bridge to the nations), and follow God’s exciting plan for their lives once they surrender to Him.
    What a joy to have had excellent healthcare in America through my 3 pregnancies, prenatal vitamins, nutrition counseling, etc…things these young mothers don’t get here. I shared some babycare and motherhood hints with them during some precious moments at a recent babyshower…pointing out the soft spot and cautions about letting younger children hold the babies without supporting it’s neck and to not fill their bottles with sugary juice but wholesome milk, for those that choose to bottlefeed although most here breastfeed.
    That was another culture shock in services! We had to help moms understand that the nursery was a better place for that  and then my husband even brought guidelines for THAT up in the Men’s Discipleship this week, that the young boys don’t need to be peeking in the nursery windows watching teenage moms breastfeed, among other Every Man’s Battle items, so helpful to them as well…but that’s another story for another day.
    Anyway, thankful for America, praying for our government to have wisdom and if it chooses the continuation of “the tolerance attitude” that it ALSO teaches its citizens to tolerate “Christian customs” as well as all the others we’re trying not to offend these days…Jesus is good, He is watching, and He’s coming again so soon…let’s prepare our children, mother and mentor those who will let us, and look forward to the day of being one happy family in Heaven one day soon. Love, Debbie Ryals