I had intended to write on the Fourth of July last month, but because of my involvement in a multi-week trial, I decided to wait until this issue. Frankly, I’m glad I did because I received the following article, which was sent out by the Christian Legal Society to its members. This is a very good message which explains the relationship between God and our national government. If we are at all concerned about the future of the United States of America and wonder what can be done to right things in this country, these writings will give us hope.
Regardless of what future legal decisions may hold, as Christians, we understand our national patriotism to be a penultimate allegiance under our ultimate allegiance to God. We are submitted to God’s authority and are therefore submitted to every authority that He allows on earth. Romans 13:1-7.
As we think about God and our country this July 4th, I would like to take you to the very top of the Washington Monument for a moment and ask you to imagine yourself standing on the outside of the Monument at its highest pinnacle, looking around, in all directions, on a beautiful summer day. To the West is the Lincoln Memorial and everything it symbolizes; to the East the “Peoples House” – the Congress where our representatives contend for our national life together; to the North is the White House where the burdens of a nation and an entire world are daily considered and acted upon; and to the South the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon still under reconstruction from the wounds of September 11, and finally Mount Vernon, the resting place of our First President upon whose national monument you are now standing.
Then you look down, and at your feet you notice for the first time an aluminum cap on which are etched in large letters two words: Laus Deo. [Lah-us Dee-o] No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn’t care less. Once you know Laus Deo’s history, you may want to share this with others you know just as a CLS member from Florida just shared it with me.
These words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, indeed the Father of every nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America.
Two seemingly insignificant, un-noticed words – out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is today the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the history of the world.
So, what do those two words, in Latin, comprised of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say “Praise be to God!” [Laus is “Praise be” and Deo means “God”] Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was President of the United States, it was not until 1888 (the year Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland) that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty five more years (when Theodore Roosevelt was President) to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the One Washington himself thought to be the Source of any nation’s Providence, particularly America.
Laus Deo….Praise be to God!
From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant. . . a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north. The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.
A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; with as much right to be in our public square as any of the other symbols that constitute and have contributed to our life together here in America.
Laus Deo. . .Praise be to God!
Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6.
Praise be to God!
When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the American Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy …”One Nation, Under God.”
Samuel B. Casey
Executive Director and CEO of the Christian Legal Society
These bold acknowledgements that God is sovereign, that He reigns and rules over our nation, and that He is deserving of all praise and honor are enormously encouraging. They have challenged me to pray for more leaders in our nation who would once again boldly and humbly call on the name of the Lord. When I initially received a copy of this message about two years ago, I confess that I had forgotten much of what it said. When it came again by email, I was also reminded that there is nothing in our public or private lives that is beyond God’s sovereign control. Sometimes I forget that God is in charge of my life and all that I do. This article was not only a great reminder but a timely one. God is still on His throne and there can be no doubt about it. If you are like me, you need this reminder too!
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