A Letter to America: Yearning to Breathe Free!
Dr. Iris K. Barrett
Our Father God in Heaven is watching our nation just as He is watching the world. He founded this nation, and He has created every human being in it. We are each wonderfully and lovingly made by our Creator. And within each of us, He has placed gifts and talents. We each have something to contribute to the world. Our life’s promise and purpose should not be snuffed out prematurely.
In His infinite wisdom, God also created diversity. What a divine idea! We are each unique and can personally benefit by experiencing the uniqueness of others. As we draw near to others who are different from ourselves, we have the opportunity to grow and thereby affirm that God’s creation plan was (and is) infinitely wise. May we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27)!
From the beginning, God has crafted remarkable plans for His creation. Those plans - for us as individuals and as a nation - are on a timetable. We should ask ourselves: Are we manifesting God’s plan for our lives? Is our nation? God, through His Spirit, inspired men to include these words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
On May 25, 2020, these words did not ring true for George Floyd. A knee to his neck for over 8 minutes ended his life. An officer’s knee extinguished his ability to share his gifts and talents in life; however, in death, he is touching the world.
Today, thousands protest, with most now taking a peaceful stand. Undeterred by a pandemic, voices in this country and around the world are uniting. Unity in protest is not directed toward the economy, housing, health care, or education, although these are relevant concerns. Instead, protesters decry the cutting off of life to their neighbor - their fellow man. People of color have had a knee to the neck for 400 years in this country and tearfully pant, “I can’t breathe.” On the Statue of Liberty, it reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The response of people of color is still, “I can’t breathe.”
Let us open our eyes to see that God has come to evaluate this nation. How is America doing per her founding ideals and principles? God hears the cries of lost life, lost hope, and lost promise. He hears the voice of blood crying out that has been spilled (Genesis 4:10).
Despite our nation’s wrongdoing, God contends with us for positive purposes. He seeks repentance and re-alignment with His original plans. In Genesis 32, we read the account of Jacob wrestling with God, who presented Himself in the form of an angel. Why did they wrestle? God intended Jacob to be a patriarch of His people, but he had not manifested his purpose up to that point. Jacob’s day on God’s timetable ultimately came. As they wrestled, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. His life shifted onto God’s path for him - the path of a Hebrew patriarch.
Similarly, a national transition is occurring in America. Our nation’s day on God’s timetable has arrived. It is time to change - time to manifest the purpose for which she was founded.
National identity is reborn as individuals within the nation arise to their identity. Many in our country now struggle with hurt, anger, confusion, fear, guilt, or possibly conviction. King David in the Bible provides an example of what to do when we are in distress: Open our hearts to God and call on Him. In Psalm 51:10, he says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast (right) spirit within me.“ God is now standing at the door and knocking on the hearts of Americans. Yes, God is the One with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13). Let this defining moment in history find us examining our lives before God, the One to whom we all must give account.
Lastly, let’s look at the story of the Good Samaritan. People of color are often analyzed and scrutinized for a variety of flaws. In Luke 10, we see a man robbed by thieves and beaten. The religious priest and Levite walked past him, even crossing over to the other side of the road. They probably wondered what he had done to land himself in that state. They studied, assessed, and passed by on the other side. The Samaritan, instead, drew near with compassion, bandaging the man up and bringing him to a caregiver. The Samaritan was a true neighbor who said, “I got you.” Thank God for peaceful protesters of all hues, walks of life, and ages. They are the Good Samaritans of our day. They are saying, “My heart is open to you - you are hurting and wounded. I won’t analyze you - you are my brother, my sister. I’ll stand with you. I got you. I want you to breathe free. When you breathe free, we all will.”
George Floyd’s death took us over a tipping point. We stand at a significant crossroads in history. I pray that we all respond to the voice of God in our lives. May we open the door of our hearts to Him when He knocks … and pray. Pray that together we will indeed be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Ever onward - ever forward,
Dr. Iris K. Barrett
Watch the video of Dr. Barrett reading her Letter to America.
“With God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27)