by Robin Swoboda        The unspeakable has happened in America. As I write this column, smoke still rises from the rubble that was once the World Trade Centers. Search crews also comb through the decimated portion of the Pentagon. Thousands are missing and the death toll is rising daily. Every single American has been affected by the heinous acts of terrorism committed by cowards in the name of their god. If anything good can come of this horrific tragedy, I suspect it will be this. More people than ever will now attend church and see what it looks like without the Christmas and Easter adornments.

       The questions on everyone's mind are, "How could this happen? Where was God in all this?" Let me tell you where I think God was and what He was doing while all this happened. I think God was on His heavenly throne asking what has happened to a great nation created by men and women who wanted to worship Him freely. What has happened to a nation that allows God's name on the almighty dollar but not in a public school? A nation that uses God's name in vain on its prime time sitcoms and takes His Ten Commandments off the walls of its courthouses? A nation that routinely kills unborn children because they are an inconvenience or not expected to be born perfect? Get the picture? Yet in the days since September 11, 2001 we have had the audacity to gather together and sing, "God bless America....and shed His GRACE on thee." In my Oxford American Desk Dictionary, grace is defined this way, "FAVOR OF GOD, DIVINE SAVING AND STRENGTHENING INFLUENCE." How can God have any influence when we have kicked Him out of nearly every aspect of American life? As a parent, I know I show my own children favor when they obey me, respect me and trust me. Yet in countless televised services and newspaper articles since the tragedies, we have seen people invoke the name of God and ask for His help. Do we truly want His help? If we do, then like with our own children, we must hold up our end of things. We must obey Him, respect Him and trust Him. We must repent and turn back to God! Read the words from Romans 1. "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. (vv. 21-27a) They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless." (vv. 29-31)

       That pretty much sums up the majority of America these days. "Oh, but there are so many good people," I hear you say. God says all righteousness comes ONLY from Him, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. There is that word grace again and, there is the good news in all of this. You and I were born sinners but God sent His one and only Son to be the final atonement for our sins. There aren't enough "good deeds" to get us into heaven. There aren't enough "bad deeds" to keep us out. All we have to do is believe Jesus died for our sins and confess that. Romans 10:9 reads "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believed and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

       It is my prayer that God will once again bless America and shed His grace on us. In order to do that, it is also my prayer that we as a nation, under God, will repent and turn back to Him, accepting His Son and His free gift of eternal salvation so that "God may be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us" once again. (Ps. 67:1)