There once was a grand piano so grand anyone who saw it knew at first glance it was the grandest piano there ever was.
But a most unexpected thing happened to the piano. Those who owned the instrument mistreated it. They loved its music, but they ignored the need to care for the piano.
They never polished its finish. They did not keep it tuned. They left it out in the rain and paid no attention to the way the sun baked its finish.
Still, it was such a grand piano, it made great music for a long, long time. People assumed the music would continue, no matter how they neglected the piano.
Eventually, the neglect turned into outright abuse.
In time, the new generation that inherited the piano considered it old, scarred and broken. They took the once-grand piano to the top of a great precipice and pushed it over the ledge. The piano fell from its great height and crashed onto the canyon floor. The piano shattered into thousands of pieces.
In the days that followed, gawkers came to the crash site to see the destruction. They found a white key here and a black key there. They saw piano strings intertwined in the branches of scrubby desert plants. Some who’d viewed the wreckage returned home with stories of what they’d seen. When they told of the piano’s demise, old-timers recalled seeing the piano in its glory days. Books were written on the great concerts. Documentaries were aired on the piano’s story. People heard recordings of the music and couldn’t believe what had been done to the piano.
A movement began.
An idea was born.
“Let’s take back our piano!” said one excited soul. “Let’s do!” shouted the crowd.
And just like that, all across the land, people listened to inspired speeches from speakers who promised they could bring back the music. People gave their money to the cause. They dreamed of the day when the piano would once more be the grandest piano the world had ever known.
In the meantime, another dust storm in the desert covered the few remaining splinters, keys and strings, burying the last remnants of a grand piano that would never make music again.
Every few years, our communities hold political elections. This happens to be one of those years for our entire country.
The slogans and candidates change, but the general theme remains the same. Someone delivers a rousing promise that we’re going to “TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!”
But I can’t help but think of the grand piano shattered on the rocks.
Though I’m an optimist and though I desperately hope we can find better days, I’m also a realist. Looking through a biblical world view at the country America has become, one thing is clear.
You’re not going to “take back” this country any more than someone could rebuild a shattered piano.
Still, it’s not like all hope is gone.
You can build a new piano if you like, and it’s possible we could build a new America.
But if you’re dreaming of a day when Andy Griffith is going to once again become the moral leader of Mayberry the Beautiful, you need to wake up. Andy’s dead. Mayberry never even existed.
The moral and righteous country we once knew? Like Mayberry, it also may have never actually existed. All I know is that whatever was once at least respectful of biblical values in America is simply not there anymore. It is shattered. It is destroyed. It is dead, buried and decomposed.
It’s not coming back.
This can be troubling if you’re a person who loves God.
Should we actually admit there’s no hope of a national revival that would turn around decades of moral decay? Should we ever say – God forbid! – that something is impossible for God?
Of course not. At the same time, we should recognize that spiritual renewal is something completely dependent on those of us who need to come back to God. God needs no call or repentance to come to us!
Read the Bible again. Pay attention to the broken piano pieces you’ll find on every page. Practically every generation in the Bible had to deal with similar disappointments. Revival on a national scale was always the dream of the prophets, and yet they rarely saw anything close to national reform. Only a few kings even gave revival lip service.
Still, spiritual renewal on a personal level was possible in every generation. No matter what was going on in the culture, there were and are always a few people who want to love God with all their hearts, souls and minds.
Adam and Eve had it good for several minutes before their own sin shattered paradise. Thankfully, they repented and made the best of things in their restored relationship with God. Paradise, however, suffered the same fate as a shattered piano. It was simply never coming back.
By the time Noah lived, God was ready to flush the entire human race. Even so, Noah and a few other righteous individuals lived to see another day. They weren’t perfect people. They were simply wise enough to get on the boat. They believed in God’s coming judgment. They were “right” in their belief that God would keep His word. Therefore, they were “righteous.”
The dark days of the judges were a prequel to a long line of immoral kings for both Judah and Israel. Only a few of those kings had faith to trust the God who had miraculously given them the land.
The prophets wept over Israel’s immorality. They saw the end long before the end came for Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Enemies invaded and God’s chosen people – or at least the ones who lived through the attacks – were taken away.
These people of the Book barely lived through the brutality of the culture that imprisoned them. While in exile, many dreamed of a great Jewish Kingdom led by great Jewish leaders in a great Jewish land. They wanted, if I could put it this way, to “GET OUR PIANO BACK!”
It never happened. Even so, many individuals found ways to love God with all their heart, soul and mind wherever they were, in whatever they were doing. Remember the stories of Esther and Daniel? They lived in a land of broken pianos, but still they made great faith music.
By the time Jesus lived, corruption and immorality reigned in government, the entertainment industry and among the religious leaders. The First Century church spread like wildfire in part because those earliest followers of Jesus were being run out of town at the end of a sword. Persecution followed them for centuries. Though they prayed that the entire world would turn to Christ, it did not happen.
Instead, it was always a case of a small group of Christ-followers being transformed by grace in the midst of a culture hell-bent on chasing godless values.
In time, America came into being.
Amidst the fresh air of independence, the first several generations of Americans carried a general acceptance of biblical values. No one would ever suggest the country actually ever practiced biblical morality, but most of its citizens at least knew the chorus to “God Bless America” and treated Gideon Bibles with an air of respect.
Best of all, Americans who chose to practice their faith could do so without fear of persecution. A significant portion did take advantage of that most precious of freedoms. Many take advantage of this freedom today.
We take this freedom for granted. People around the world in other communities? They dream of a day when they could worship with other believers without fear of punishment.
They look at America and see such a mixture of “Christian” and “American” values, they sometimes appear to merge. To be “American” is to be “Christian.” The culture has been ours, and ours has been the culture. Following Jesus in America has been easy.
This is changing. No one who’s actually read the Bible or studied the life of Jesus would call America a “Christian” nation. Those punished in recent years for holding biblical values over cultural values would even suggest that we’ve moved into an era of persecution for Christians in this country.
In light of the blood being shed in other countries, I’m not willing to say we’re being “persecuted.” But I will tell you this:
The piano is shattered. It’s not coming back.
This is also true no matter who is elected as our next President.
The last few decades of national leadership have put us so far in debt, not even our grandchildren have a hope of paying it off. Have you noticed the silence in this year’s presidential campaign? No one can even fathom a plan to eliminate our national debt. If he or she did, no one would vote for such a platform! We would pay for nothing else!
We’ve tolerated a radical move toward sexual immorality — by biblical standards. The last eight years saw such a radical move away from biblical values, even marriage has been redefined.
And speaking of the last eight years, what happened to the wonderful opportunity we thought we had to finally put racial stress behind us? Why does there seem to be more racial stress now than there was before we finally elected a President of color?
But the situation we’re in now can’t be blamed on one President, or even one political party. It has taken the better part of a century to create the cycle of government dependence that holds millions of our citizens captive, as if they could never take personal responsibility for their own lives. It has taken decades to create the idea that government can solve every problem, clean up the debris from every hurricane or provide cash incentives for our next new-car purchase.
I’ll say it again.
The grand piano is no more. It actually never was. But now even the illusion of the piano is shattered.
Is there any hope to hear the music again?
Actually, there is. But it will only come from the music you make with your own life.
This has always been the message of the Bible. If you had lived in Noah’s day, you would have heard the very personal invitation to get on the boat. The decision whether or not to get on that boat would have been up to you. The consequences of the flood if you were or were not on that boat? Yours and yours alone.
Today’s cultural immorality is no different from all the other cultural environments that have surrounded God’s people throughout history. We have long lived in a world of shattered pianos. Even so, there’s an opportunity to make a difference.
Take care of your life. Your morality. Read the Bible for yourself. Listen to the teachings of Jesus as if he were talking directly to you. Quit wringing your hands about the immorality of all those other people out there, and train your hands to play your own piano.
Take back our country? Forget about it.
Just live a life of genuine faith and when given the opportunity, share your faith with the person in your path on that particular day.
It’s always been an intriguing thought. What if every follower of Jesus actually did that? What if each one of us influenced one more person so profoundly that a neighbor decided to become a follower, too?
You know what would happen.
The music would be … incredible.