How Barriers Work

Pastor Rod is just coming back from vacation this week, We hope you enjoy this article he wrote in 2004.

I sure am glad that history doesn't always listen to Congress when it speaks. If it did...well, America wouldn't be what it is today, that's for sure. In fact, you and I wouldn't even be Americans! I'm not exactly sure what we would be—Russians, Mexicans, subjects of the British monarchy?—none of the possibilities do much for me; but if Congress had had its way, back in 1821, one such scenario would be our lot today. 

1821 was the year Thomas Hart Benton stood up in the Senate and argued for the federal recognition of a few lonely American trappers and settlers who had made the outrageous journey westward, over the Rockies and out into the regions of Oregon, Washington, and California. Up until that time, everybody but the Americans were trying to take over those lands: Russians were coming down from their settlements in Alaska; the British had chased all the French back up into Canada and were starting to take over the fur trade; even Spain was feebly hoping to expand its crumbling empire up from California. But Americans were few and far between, and when they showed up, they were anything but welcome! 

Benton had already been harping about it in his St. Louis newspaper for a couple of years; but when he got elected to the Senate, he and a colleague, John Floyd of Virginia, introduced a series of bills designed to challenge the European takeover. The bills included everything from establishing Territories in the Northwest to building military posts along emigrant trails to protect the westward journey.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Incredibly, it didn't to Congress. That year, every single one of those bills was shot down for one reason or another. And one of the reasons, I know, is going to make you smile. Here's how it came out in the congressional record:

"Nature has fixed limits to our nation; she has kindly interposed as our Western barrier, mountains almost inaccessible, whose base she has skirted with irreclaimable deserts of sand. This barrier our population can never pass—if it does, it becomes the people of a new world, whose connexions (sic), whose feelings, and whose interests are not with us, but with our antipodes." 1

This is classic stuff—a barrier our population can never pass? Spoken by the nation that would one day put a man on the moon! 

Isn't it interesting how 'barriers' work? The very first pronouncement a 'barrier' in-spires is always one of gloom and defeat. Deserts can't be crossed, mountains can't be scaled, and Man must stay in his place, content within his dismal boundaries. Then someone comes along, looks up at that barrier ... and envisions a trail! That's when everything changes!

Do you know what l think is sad? Our generation is becoming more and more like that Congress of 1821.  My!—how easily we can be intimidated by the barriers around us!

The barriers to our 'War on Drugs' are now being touted as 'impassible'. Let's just legalize drugs and be done with it. The obstacles to keeping our border secure? Overwhelming! Let's just do away with borders! 

The barriers to our children's purity certainly have us intimidated. So...we won't try to overcome them? Just hand out more con-doms?  And keep abortion handy just in case? 

In our personal lives, barriers loom on every side: barriers to a successful marriage; barriers to a happy family; barriers between the races; the barriers of addiction, mental disorder, anxiety, guilt, and fear. Everywhere we look, barriers are staring us in the face: barriers to hope, peace, and lasting happiness. 

And to a generation that has no faith, every barrier is a vast Mojave; an impassible range of Rockies. 

Jesus Christ had nothing but contempt for 'barriers', have you noticed? Everywhere He went, He blazed the trail and led the way to peace and hope, liberty and forgiveness. "All things are possible," He once told a broken-hearted man, "only believe." Mk 9:23 In fact Jesus repeated that claim four other times in His preaching (Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27; 14:36; Lk 18:27).

Ultimately, Christ tears down all the barriers! That empty tomb comes first to mind, of course, but you'll find ample proof on every page of our Scriptures! 

And you—dear follower and minister in this church—you bear His stamp! For you as well 'barriers' are nothing! Don't grow weary, dear Christian! That struggling little Oregon trail you're blazing now will someday become...well—how does the Bible describe it?----a 'highway in the wilderness" for many a needy heart.  Is 43:19

We're on for Sunday, right? So glad to be back. See you there!                               RAS

1. David Lavender, Land of Giants—The Drive to the Pacific Northwest, Castle Books, 2001, Edison N.J. p. 115

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