Inauguration Day 2013

inauguration day 2013

[Monthly Columnists – Hannah Stovall] – Starting this January, I am introducing a few new monthly columnists who will be guest blogging on a monthly basis.

Hannah actually asked me! At first I was hesitant because she didn’t yet know all the details, but once I told her–she was in! I love a brave woman. A woman who asks for what she wants–so Hannah, surprise! I look forward to her sharing monthly about pop culture and events through the eyes of a 20-something and what they can mean to all. Please welcome her!

Inauguration Day 2013 was a big day.

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; my nephew, Caleb, celebrated his fourth birthday; and I met the President.


Ok, I didn’t really meet him. I didn’t shake his hand, tell him a joke or even get to take a picture; but I think it’s safe to say: anyone watching his inauguration met the real President Barak Obama.

For a wordie like myself, political speeches are like watermelon in August.

They ooze brilliant vocabulary. The sentiment is sweet. Every other sentence is packed with patriotism, personal flavor and flair. I’m lulled by the parallelism, the alliteration, the pentameter. It’s beautiful.

It’s supposed to be.

The nation—no, the world is listening, because despite how much attention you give it, whether or not it’s the side you rooted for, this speech is important. This moment is significant. These words are loaded.

The 57th Inaugural Address was no exception.

Line after line, Obama peels back another layer.

He lifts the veil.

He is still the smiling President who laughed and played with children who’d violently lost their siblings in Newtown. Later when he ends his speech at the Congressional Lunch by saying,

“I would like to offer one last toast, and that is to my extraordinary wife, Michelle. There is controversy about the quality of the President—no controversy about the quality of our current First Lady,” we’ll be reminded that he’s still the charming President who openly adores his wife and loves his family.

But under the layers, there is a bolder voice, one that’s been hushed for four years.

Can the significance of President Barak Obama’s second inauguration being held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day be lost on anyone?

That is heavy.

Not only because of the beauty that King fought for racial equality—but because King fought for freedom, period. The Presidents says:

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths —- that all of us are created equal —- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

I hear those words and I know what he means.

He sees social equality for every sexual orientation. He dreams of limitless opportunities for people of every economic standing. He declares that our years of war abroad are over. We can finally end the social war at home.  He dreams of peace.

And I am discouraged. Discouraged but hopeful.

I’m discouraged because, despite political views, we are nowhere near peace. I’m discouraged because there is still much to fight for. There are still, I believe, much more deserving issues than the ones he acknowledges.

I’m hopeful because, as he recalls our founding words, “all men are created equal,” and nods to our fathers who established our great country, I remember that they were far less focused on the creations. Their eyes were on the Creator. Every time he mentions our nation’s history, every time he quotes our Constitution, or speaks with respect of our founders, Obama points directly to a Biblical heritage.

May we never—never—forget it.

“A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”

I hear those words and, though a highly egocentric view of the world, I know what he means. He has goals and dreams and bulleted lists of what he wants to accomplish and change in the next four years. He wants progress.

Who can blame him?

I hear those words and I grin because he is right.

This is our moment.

Make no mistake, Mr. President.

We are seizing it.

+I think of Passion City Church and Passion Conferences. I think of 60,000+ young people rallying behind the End it Movement. We are in it to end it.

+I think of bold and brave abolitionists like Christine Caine who are setting captives free in Jesus’ name. We see the equality. We wish to set free because we ourselves have been set free.

+I think of girls in India, rescued from potential slavery, living as a family with As Our Own. We will find them and set them free.

+I think of International Justice Mission who fights for freedom around the world. We see that they are equal. We will use our freedom to set them free.

+I think of courageous mothers in my home church who, grateful their own daughters live in innocence and freedom, are leading the charge to end slavery and trafficking in Houston. We will start at home. We will seek out the enslaved and fight for them.

“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”

Yes, Mr. President. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Consider the moment seized.

*All quotes drawn from the Mercury News Transcript: Obama’s inaugural address 2013. “Transcript: Obama’s Inaugural Address 2013.” N.p., 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 Jan. 2013.

Hannah StovallHannah is a lover of family and a collector of friends. She’s a bookworm and a movie buff, a wanderer and an expert at napping outside in the summer. Hannah has committed her writing to—not help people escape their reality—but rather encourage them to engage in it. She is currently part of the Children’s Ministry team at Houston’s First Baptist Church. You can read more from Hannah at

[Photo: Getty Images]


  • Maryann

    Disappointed that Devotional Diva went a political route. This devotional glorifies the president and government way more than it glorifies God. This is no place to state your political beliefs.

    • Renee Johnson Fisher

      Maryann, quite the contrary. Since this blog belongs to me I am at liberty to express my God given constitutional right to express. I will say this–I did not vote for Obama nor am I a supporter of his in any way. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t talk about politics. I’m sorry you feel that way. 🙁

      • Maryann

        Thanks, Renee. I know I was a little harsh with my comment. I understand that this is your blog, but it seemed to me that a place it seems you intended as a devotional blog (rather than a personal blog), should stick to more personal faith material. That being said, please read my response to Hannah’s helpful comment. Thanks for all the good work you do on this blog. God bless

        • Renee Johnson Fisher

          No problem. Politics seems to always bring out the harshness in people including myself, which is why I asked Hannah to write it (not me). I totally get where you’re coming from. God bless you too!

    • Daniel Darling

      Maryann, that’s ridiculous. You may not agree with the President and all of his policies (I don’t). You may not have even voted for him (I didn’t). But the inauguration is a wonderful American event. Can we not celebrate the uniqueness of our democracy and the fact that 45 years after Dr. King died, we are swearing in (for the second time) a black President? Can we not admire the President and his wife? Can’t we sit back and be grateful this happens every four years without tanks and armies and revolution?

      Furthermore, I think Renee has biblical grounds for allowing this on her blog. Paul told Timothy, repeatedly, to pray, respect, and honor the leaders. Peter said the same thing as did James. Let’s remember that the leader then was Nero who used Christians for torches.

      Part of our Christian witness is to have and articulate disagreements in society with civility. To, like Daniel and Nehemiah, respect leaders with whom we disagree. If those men could tell wicked kings, “Oh, King live forever,” I’m pretty sure we can respect the inauguration of the President.

    • Hannah Stovall

      Maryann, I’m so sorry that you feel this way. While I purposed to speak respectfully of President Obama, because he is our president and earthly authority and we’re scriptually called to do so, my intent is always to point the glory to the Father. He is the only one deserving.

      My fascination with Obama’s words was that he was, unknowingly and unintentionally, calling Christians to action. Obama spoke of our founding fathers and Reverend King, both of whom followed God and sought His will above all else. I’m confident that Obama’s motive was to rally a movement behind his own causes–and I’m sure he did. But that wasn’t the movement he stirred in me.

      Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

      God is capable and has the power to use ANY man’s words to communicate His truth, whether or not they meant those words for His good. The Lord did that for me through Obama’s inaugural address. God lit a fire that said, “Hannah, this is our time. This is our moment. Take it and use it for me.” That’s how He communicated to me. To this girl. In my heart. I meant only to share that with you and encourage you to join in on the movement and the moment that God alone has given.

      I hope that makes things more clear, but I would be happy to discuss further if needed. I’m grateful for your heart that so zealously wants to see God glorified. You are so right. He deserves it all.

      • Maryann

        Thanks so much for clarifying. I try to avoid giving negative feedback/being controversial where it is not necessary, but of course there are exceptions to that, so I hope I didn’t embarrass you or Renee. I don’t know if it was the wall I put up reading this, or simply the way you said it, but I didn’t get that same message in the post as I got in your comment. I read it as being “seize the moment” in the way the president meant, rather than seeing your unique Christian interpretation/spin on it, so again, thanks for clarifying.
        Of course I also know that I am called to respect authority and leaders, but I often need to be reminded. Again, thank you. God bless

    • Svjard

      The Bible tells us to respect authority. Period. There are no ifs or buts about it, just that we respect those in authority. If you truly believe in the God of the Bible then He is absolute in sovereignty. Therefore Obama’s election was considered in eternity past and God has let it be that it is. How can you ignore something which God has considered Himself? How can you fail to contemplate or meditate on events which are not random? In fact, the Bible tells us God raises up kings and He disposes of them at His good pleasure. Whatever political beliefs you may have, the Bible in no way lets us ignore politics or says x,y,z are the proper places to speak about them.

  • Jaimie Bowman

    I agree with Daniel and Renee. This is her blog, and she desires to have a place where faith intersects with all parts of life – including our culture, politics, and that historic day. We shouldn’t get so wrapped up in our disagreements with the President that we overlook the historic day that it was – all that it represented. Our faith should be reflected in that, and I thought Hannah did a great job.

  • Krista Back

    While I am not an Obama supporter, nor do I like that we call him “our black president” since he is only half “black” (I wish we didn’t force people to choose what race they identify with the most), what I do like is, he is passionate, and I think he is funny, plus I appreciate his sentiments.. Even if I dislike his politics.

    So, regardless of my political views, I too try and find the silver linings… He is our President, like it or not. AND… God wasn’t surprised (winning).

    Although, I will admit I’m mad that Obama decided against the “Building A Death Star Petition” that I signed… AND under his leadership the US government declared that mermaids aren’t real.


  • writerkate

    Love the discussion that happened via this post. I am not a fan of our President, but he is indeed our President, elected by the people. I am so proud of Renee for stepping into the political realm. As a seasoned Christian who is a recovering legalist I applaud her. It is SOOOO important that as Christians we enter into the uncomfortable–taking our influence out means we approve of what will happen. Too many people are blind followers, blind haters and honestly–it is Not good. So..Great discussion. I hope you keep the political posts coming…Let’s sieze the moment to become uncomfortable.