Chuck (in helmet) with a Washington Redskin - Redskin Training Camp, Richmond, Virginia 2013

Zachary Taylor – The Election of 1848

Let Your Actions Speak Louder than Your Knees

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18 KJV

Like many Americans, I’m having a real hard time with football players. No, I’m not talking about my beloved Washington Redskins and how they have found another way, early in the season, for us to proclaim our all too familiar theme song: “Just wait till next year.” The biggest problems I’m having with football players is their failure to stand during the National Anthem.

I don’t think I would have such a problem with it if, let’s say, they knelt before the Anthem and stood up when it started or if they knelt after it is over. I think it shows a total lack of respect for the nation that has given them the right to protest. I think some of these players have totally forgotten that this is their country, too. The statement they are trying to proclaim is also an indictment on themselves.

From the sounds of things, I’m not hearing from too many people that they are happy with America today. The chosen method of dealing with this frustration seems to be protest. We march, we shout, and we write mean tweets. Then the other side gets mad and they form larger marches, they shout louder and they write meaner tweets. The cycle seems to know no end. Yet, nothing changes.

I think football players have forgotten one very important element. As much as I love my Redskins, football is just entertainment. When one of my relatives or I get sick, I don’t watch a football game for a cure. When I look for spiritual guidance, I don’t go searching for an NFL playbook. When I look to expand my education, I don’t study the pro athlete’s words after a victory or defeat. No, I watch football to take my mind, for a few minutes, off all the troubles that surround me and my world.

For a few brief moments, all I ask of the football world is that they give me a break from this world. Let me cheer, let me cry, let me love you, let me hate you, but most of all help me get my mind off the world around me for just a brief moment in time. Don’t be like the rest of the world. One of the reasons I’m watching you is that I’m getting very tired of watching the news.

My brother-in-law has down syndrome. He is such a sweet guy. He knows no one but friends. He wins everyone’s heart. I sometimes wish I could look at the world through his simple eyes. He loves everyone. He loves NASCAR, Donny and Marie, and the Washington Redskins.

One summer my wife and I had the privilege of taking Chuck, my brother-in-law, to the Redskin’s training camp in Richmond, Virginia. After the practice, some of the players came over to him and paid him some attention. Chuck was in heaven. I’m not sure if the players completely understood how much their simple efforts meant to Chuck and to me. Probably half the players that came up to him didn’t survive the first cut. But that didn’t make one bit of difference. You see, they were Redskins and that was all that mattered.

I wish the NFL players understood that we all know there are problems in America. Some of those problems are very real and need attention called to them. But maybe the message should be that they love our nation and it is so worth it to work on those areas that need attention. Maybe they should proudly stand and say, “This is my America, too, and I am going to work to make it better.” Let us see your actions speak louder than your knees.

He is perhaps one of the greatest military leaders in our nation’s history. He seemed to love being in the military, too. He was a captain in one of our earliest wars. He was a colonel in one of our lesser known “wars.” He earned his famous nickname in a “war” that most Americans, today, have probably never heard of before. What really made him famous, though, was the war in which he was a major general.

Like most military leaders of his day, he kept most of his political opinions to himself. Very few people, if any, could tell you what he stood for, if he stood for anything at all. He was out to do one thing, and one thing only, serve his country. And he served our country well.

One of the problems with not sharing your political views is that some people get very threatened by your silence. Others question your motives. Are you keeping silence so you can gather information to use against someone later on? Are you just sitting around waiting for the right opportunity to pounce when you see a weakness?

The President this major general was serving under was very suspicious of his general’s motives. The general was getting more and more popular with every victory. America was loving its new hero. The President thought that the general’s popularity was depleting his own popularity.

The general was on a march. He had one strong victory after another. The President decided he would put other generals in the more high profile battles, but none did as good as our major general.
Sensing the President’s plot, the major general, from time to time, would just pretend like he hadn’t received the President’s orders. He would just go out and fight the battles he knew needed to be fought. He became even more victorious and more popular.

Finally, the President took most of his troops from him and gave them to another general. With a smaller number of troops he was still able to find a great deal of success, which made him even more popular. But the major general could see his days were numbered, so he returned home.

It’s strange how some of our toughest times build unshakeable character traits in us. Our distress, which causes us so much misery, can actually turn into a strength. It is almost like God has to bring us to our knees before we can stand up and use the real person inside us for His good. Probably the greatest story of this Bible character is the time God knocked him on his knees.

Our Bible character was a strong church-going individual. He was very well known in the church. He was moving right up that church “corporate” ladder. Many saw his potential and they knew he would one day be one of the church’s top officials. He also saw the direction he was headed and he was very proud that his efforts were being noticed.

Sometimes, when we “move up” in our churches, we forget the real purpose of the church. Very often the higher we move up, the more judgmental we become. We give more weight to what others are “doing wrong.” We look at the Good Book as a tool to judge rather than a tool to teach us to love.

Our Bible character might have been classified as one of those types of church leaders and he was very good at it. If he were around today, I’m sure he would have had his own TV hour and adoring flock. They would stand, shout and proclaim the need for reform. You would have heard about where they stood, because they were very vocal. You believed the way they did, period.

Our Bible character was carrying his message and his judgements to another town. Reform was needed and he was just the man to enforce the creed as it was written. There had to be an end to this rebellion and he was the man to do it.

A bright light filled the sky or at least it filled the path he was traveling on. Those around him didn’t seem to see the bright light, or at least it didn’t seem to them to be as bright as his eyes saw it. As he tried to open up his eyes he couldn’t see at all. He heard those around him, but he couldn’t make out what they were actually saying or where they were actually standing.

Then it seems his hearing must have had something happening to it, too. There seem to be a voice drowning out the voices of all those around him. Why was this happening? What was going on?

As the election of 1848 rolled around, President Polk was just hoping that America would beg him to reconsider his promise just to be a one term President. America wasn’t falling for it. Despite the fact that no one knew anything about his political views, our major general was the leading candidate.

One of the things that makes you feel better about being embarrassed, especially when you have been embarrassed by a President, is when you are asked by a party to replace that President. Better yet, America says, “We don’t even need to know what you stand for. We just like you and we believe you will look out for and take care of us.” Best of all, it worked.

Zachary Taylor won the election of 1848 and no one really knew what he stood for. They just knew he loved America and wanted to keep it together. They knew he was a captain in the War of 1812, a colonel in the Black Hawk War, and a major general in the Mexican-American War. He would earn his nickname, “Old Rough and Ready,” during the Seminole War. America knew he was willing, with his life, to defend her.

Taylor was a slave owner, but America was surprised when he stood against expanding slavery into new territories, even in the territory won in the Mexican-American War in which he was a major general. He was also dead set against secession as a means of ending the slavery debate. Taylor believed there was no difference that America couldn’t work out. He knew that division was the worst method in solving our problems.

The great light that blinded Saul was brought him to his knees. A voiced thundered in his ears the disgust it had for Saul. The voice basically said, “You shall fall on your knees so you will know that I am the way, but I will not let you stay on those knees very long because I have much work for you to do.”

So God sent someone to cure Saul of his blindness. And Saul would no longer be known as churchman Saul. No, Saul would now be known as the Christian Paul. Saul was about the rules. Paul was about getting people together so they could find the way to heaven. Saul was the divider. Paul was the uniter.

We are in an age where it is very easy to find a reason to protest. Sometimes it seems like it is so much easier to get mad and to display our disgust. It’s much harder to work on finding solutions to that which divides us. Which has a more lasting effect?

With Zachary Taylor, America saw a man who they knew cared very much about them and our country. As they got to know him, as President, they saw a man who wanted us to come together despite our differences.

Saul would almost start an entirely new life under the name of Paul. For all the evil that Saul did to the Christian world, Paul would show, not just by his words, but also by his actions, that the Christian cause needed love to guide its ways.

I believe the world needs a little less protest and a lot more loving action. I don’t believe he should pick up arms, but extend our hands to help. We should stop highlighting the poor examples, but shine the spotlight on the good examples. Our lips may remain silent, but our actions will roar.

Prayer: Dear Mighty Father, Please be with America, a land I love so much. Please help those in influential positions to be great examples for those looking up to them to follow. Let us not just get our knees dirty, but help us to also be willing to get our hands dirty from our good labor. Let each one of us contribute something that can make our country something we all can be proud of. Amen.

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