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“Ordinary Courage”

Last week at the White House James McCloughan was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump – the highest honor bestowed by the United States military – for “conspicuous gallantry” and “distinguished action” in saving the lives of 10 American soldiers and their Vietnamese interpreter during the battle of Tam Ky in Vietnam in May of 1969.

courage

Wounded himself three times, at one point Pfc. McCloughan was ordered by his captain onto one of the evacuation helicopters and he refused to go because he was the last medic who was still alive at that point and he knew “that they were going to need him.” So, he stitched up his own wounds and ran back into the battle to take care of more of his fallen comrades.  When I say the word “courage” it’s people like James McLoughan who first come to mind; people who run towards trouble when most of us are trying to run away from it.  Who isn’t impressed by, and grateful for people like him?  James McCloughan deserves all of the recognition that he is only now getting for his heroism as a young man.  It’s a shame that it took so long.

We all need heroes. We all need role models.  We all need good examples to follow.  And James McCloughan certainly deserves to be one of them.  But when our understanding of courage is so closely tied to extraordinary acts of bravery like James McCloughan’s that transpire in a moment of time, I fear that we are at risk of missing the more ordinary displays of courage that people are living all the time, moment by moment, day after day, all around us. Without disrespecting the courage of extraordinary people like James McCloughan, I must say that the most courageous people I have personally known in my lifetime have been some rather ordinary men and women who, burdened with unimaginable difficulties, challenges, and sorrows in their lives, nevertheless got up every morning, washed their faces, put on their clothes, and headed out the door to face the new day with faith, and hope, and love.  There will be no award ceremonies for them.  Their courage goes largely unnoticed.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, or that it isn’t impressive.

This week I conducted the memorial service of one of these courageous people whom I have known. Three and a half years ago I conducted the memorial service for her husband.  On the day of his service a picture was taken of her.  She had just been widowed.  She wore a head scarf because she was in treatment for the reoccurrence of cancer, something that she had lived with, and fought for 20 years.  And yet, there she sat in her recliner that day, surrounded by her grandchildren, smiling.  It’s a picture of courage, not the extraordinary kind of courage that emerges in the moment of a crisis when a single heroic decision must be made in an instant like James McCloughan did on that battlefield in Southeast Asia nearly 50 years ago, but the ordinary kind of courage that only becomes visible gradually over a long period of time because of some carefully considered decision made long before the actual circumstances of one’s life begin to unfold.

nietzscheIt was Friedrich Nietzsche who described life as “a long obedience in the same direction,” and it seems to me that you can’t undertake this journey without courage, without that sort of ordinary courage that empowers you to constantly put one foot down in front of another and to just keep moving forward, not through the world of your dreams, but through the world of your actual circumstances.

The first verses of the fifth chapter of Romans describe the initial decision of faith that Christians make. This is where our journey begins as believers.

 …since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

 Justification by faith” is one of the ways that the New Testament talks about that carefully considered decision made beforehand that sets the direction for everything else that follows in the life of a Christian.  Romans 5:1-2 is about that initial decision of faith whereby Jesus Christ becomes one’s personal Lord and Savior. And it’s that decision that determines how we will react to whatever it is that comes next in our lives.  It’s “foundational,” which is why Paul said that it’s the source of our peace, and the basis of the grace in which we stand and by which we live, and the ground of our hope.  In fact, the next three verses of Romans chapter 5 builds the staircase to hope that sooner or later we’ve all got to climb.

steps …we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…

Do you see the stair steps there – the step up from suffering to endurance, and then the step up from endurance to character, and then finally the step up from character to hope? It takes real courage to make this climb.

In many translations of the Bible that word “suffering” gets rendered “tribulation.” In the ancient mills the “tribulum” was the threshing sled that got pulled over the grain scattered on a hard surface to crack it open so that the husk could be separated from the kernel.   Tribulation is the crushing weight of life’s circumstances that break our hearts.  It was C.S. Lewis who said that there’s nothing about this kind of suffering that in and of itself guarantees the outcome of hope that Paul wrote about in Romans chapter 5.  Tribulation doesn’t inevitably and invariably produce hope. In fact, it can just as often result in bitterness, you know – “Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw the mud, the other saw stars.”

What makes the difference, it seems to me, is navigating the second step of that stair case that Paul constructed in Romans 5 – that step up from tribulation to endurance. So, what is it the enables some people to do this, to be able to step up out of their tribulations into endurance while other people just get stuck in their struggles and sorrows?  And I think the answer’s courage.

heartBrené Brown likes to point out that the root word for “courage” – “cor, cordis”– is the Latin word for “heart.” “Courage is a heart word” she says, and Paul in those verses from Romans chapter 5 said that the hope we find on the top step of that staircase “does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”

The thing that we discover at the very beginning of the Christian life when we are first justified by faith is that God loves us, and that we had nothing to do with God’s decision to do so. We didn’t somehow make God love us.  We certainly can’t make God stop loving us.  God just loves us, all of us, it was settled once and for all on Calvary’s cross.  And I believe that the courage of endurance that moves us from tribulation to hope is made possible for us because we know this; because we know that God loves us, and that nothing – not tribulation, not distress, not persecution, not famine, not nakedness, not peril, not sword, not life, and not even death – has the power to separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

anchorFor good reason the Christian symbol for hope is the anchor.   An anchor is what holds a boat safely in place when the winds howl, and the waves beat, and the storms surge.  And I’m thinking of that picture of my friend taken three and a half years ago.  The winds were howling that day.  The waves were beating. The storm was surging.   She was a brand new widow with cancer, and there she sat, surrounded by her grandchildren, smiling.  It’s a picture of courage, the courage of a faith that had been settled long before that day ever arrived, the courage of someone who knew that she was loved by God no matter what may come.  I believe that she was smiling in that picture because she could sense even then that her anchor holding, and she knew that it always would. DBS +

 

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Now What?

flagToday at noon we get a new President. This makes some of us very sad, and this makes some of us very happy.  I “get” that.  What I don’t “get” is the “Not my President” response that seems to be so popular as this less than popular President takes office.  Deeper than the angry rhetoric and political posturing that this slogan expresses, I detect in it an alarming crack in our national life that weakens the very foundation of our Constitutional Republic.

I certainly get the disappointment of an election that doesn’t turn out the way that you had hoped. I get the very real concern about the changes that a new administration promises to make.  And I even get the rejection of the values and the criticism of the character of the people who have been elected to high public office.  All of these things have been part of my own personal political experience at one time or another as well.  In fact, if the truth be told, I’m rarely happy with Washington D.C., and I am almost always troubled politically.  Yes, I “get” it.  But what I don’t get is the absence of “Political Grace” that the “Not my President” slogan betrays.  It just seems to run so contrary to our best impulses and highest instincts as participants in the American experiment.

bookIt lacks the kind of Patriotic Grace that Jimmy Carter displayed when he facilitated the transition of Presidential power to the administration of Ronald Reagan, the candidate who had just defeated him in a bitter election. It lacks the kind of Patriotic Grace that George H.W. Bush displayed when he facilitated the transition of Presidential power to the administration of Bill Clinton, the candidate who had just defeated him in a bitter election. It lacks the kind of Patriotic Grace that Bill Clinton then displayed when he facilitated the transition of Presidential power to the administration of George W. Bush who finally won the closest of elections on the basis of a controversial Supreme Court ruling.  It lacks the kind of Patriotic Grace that George W. Bush displayed when he facilitated the transition of Presidential power to the administration of Barack Obama who won the election campaigning on a repudiation of the Bush policies.  And it lacks the kind of Patriotic Grace that Barack Obama has been putting on display as he has been facilitating the transition of Presidential power to the administration of Donald Trump who won the office without winning the popular vote and that is clouded with evidence of attempted foreign influence on our democratic process.   Donald Trump may or may not have been your candidate, but today at noon, he is going to be our President.

So, the question for all of us today, both the glad and the sad is – now what?

On Monday this week I posted a “Soundings” on “Partisan Praying.” If you haven’t read that blog yet, then I would certainly encourage you to do so now.  As a Christian speaking to other Christians, this is the most important thing that I would say we need to be doing today.  And then, only after saying that, as a citizen speaking to other citizens, I would then urge a quick civics lesson.

abeAfter hearing all about it on the news, I took a look last week at “Indivisible,” the political action manual that was recently put together by a group of progressive Congressional staffers on how to get and wield political power when the administration that is in in office doesn’t reflect your values and convictions. They based “Indivisible” on their observations of the emergence of, and their experience with the political effectiveness of the Tea Party in the early years of the Obama Administration.   At its core, “Indivisible” is just a basic guide to political organization and influence.  It pulls back the curtain of Washington D.C. and shows us how things actually get done there.  Its authors clearly have a political agenda, but the process that they describe does not.  It’s just as good for the gander, and it was for the goose.  In fact, these Progressives say that they learned it from watching the Tea Party!  I learned it in my high school civics class, and from my volunteer work at the headquarters of a major political party in my suburb of LA during a Presidential and Gubernatorial election in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when I was growing up.  There is nothing dangerous, subversive or particularly innovative here.  This is all just stuff that we should already know and be regularly doing as citizens.

A pretty good list of what involved and concerned citizens should be doing these days was recently put together and posted online by Evan McMullin, an Independent candidate for President in the last election.

  1. Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.
  2. Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.
  3. Pay attention to what the Administration says, decides and does.
  4. Be very vocal in every forum available to you if you think that rights are being violated and democracy is being threatened. Write, speak, and act.
  5. Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform, inspire and unite us.
  6. Build bridges with Americans from the other side of the traditional political spectrum and with members of diverse American communities.
  7. Defend the rights of people who don’t look, think or believe like us. An attack on one is an attack on all.
  8. Organize online and in person with other Americans about the things that concern you.
  9. Hold members of Congress accountable for protecting our rights and democracy through elections and by making public demands of them now.
  10. And finally, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have “malice toward none, with charity for all” and never ever lose hope!

And while he has been a political rival and remains a public critic of our new President, there is nothing on this list that I find to be particularly partisan or pointed. In fact, it seems to me that these are ten really good things for all of us to be doing as citizens no matter who is in office, and even if Evan McMullen himself had been elected to office!

And that’s the whole point.

Whether this is a day of rejoicing for you, or a day of despair, tomorrow’s another day. The election is over, the transition of administrations is complete, and now the hard work of governing begins with a new group of leaders at the helm.  You may have voted for them.  You may have voted against them.  They may fill you with hope.  They may fill you with dread. But either way, they are the ones who are now in office.  But they aren’t there as tyrants to unilaterally impose their will on us any more than the last administration was, or the next administration after this one will be.  They are there to cast a vision and then to try to implement it through a constitutionally established political process.

Choose to be part of that process!

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people, requires the people. In our system of government, being governed requires the consent of the governed, and that means people, all of the people, stepping up and conducting ourselves as responsible citizens in a participatory democracy.  So, whether you are glad or sad today, let the full exercise of your citizenship begin, and be grateful that we have the privilege.  DBS +

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Partisan Praying

obama

Eight years ago I started seeing this bumper sticker around town, and my first response was one of complete agreement. I mean, I know what the Bible says about praying for those who are in authority over us, and I try to practice it.

“Praying the news” is a spiritual discipline that I appreciate. Whenever an elected leader is on television as a talking head, or there’s a report about some congressional hearing, legislative initiative, judicial ruling or political squabble in Congress or at the White House, as I’m listening, rather than just getting agitated  I try to pray that our elected leaders will be given hearts of wisdom as they seek to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Praying for President Obama eight years ago as the first line of that bumper sticker enjoined is just part of our Biblical obligation as Christians if you ask me, just as praying for President Bush before him was part of my spiritual obligation as well. It was only later, when I looked up what Psalm 109:8 actually says, that I was given pause.

May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.

Shocked? I certainly was. And frankly, I wondered, if you’re going to honestly pray that verse from Psalm 109, with stop there?  Psalm 109 continues (verses 9 -12) –

May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow. May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit. May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil. May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.

Beyond the problem of wrenching verses from their historical and literary context to make a contemporary political application that is questionable at best, there is the larger problem of using a random verse from the Bible to twist the meaning of a Biblical teaching into something that is no longer spiritually recognizable.

When it finally dawned on me what this bumper sticker was saying, and the ugly spirit with which it was saying it, I was deeply offended as a Christian. And as offended as I was with the way that eight years ago some Christians were using the Bible and their beliefs as a club to clobber newly elected President Obama, so now I find myself equally bothered by the way that some other Christians are using the Bible and their beliefs as a club to clobber newly elected President Trump. I know that those who were so agitated by the new Obama Administration eight years ago had some deep moral and spiritual convictions as the basis for their fierce opposition just as those who oppose the new Trump Administration today have some deep moral and spiritual convictions as the basis for their fierce opposition as well.  I respect, even encourage that.  Politics is a contest of ideas and values, so have at it.  Tell me what you think, and why just as clearly and passionately as you possibly can.  Convince me.  Just don’t dehumanize and demonize those with opposing points of view in the process.

In an essay he wrote for the Christian Century (“Why Social Justice is Not Christian” – April 10, 2016), David Williams warned about the danger of our souls “calcifying” in the long struggle for truth, liberty and justice when our political opponents become the “other.

The anxiety that arises from the immensity of human brokenness creates within those who resist it a shadow of that brokenness. The perpetrators of injustice become the Other. We cease to see the soul blight that curses them as fully as it curses those who suffer. They are commies and fascists, racists and mooching parasites. It hardens us to them, and to the possibility of their being called and convicted to be part of the change. We would rather fight and mock and attack. Without a vision of grace to guide us, we would take up the sword. We would wear that ring of power. And when we do, we might imagine we are fighting the good fight. But it is a fantasy. Because without grace as both our intent and our method, all we’re doing is fighting.

What guards against this for me as a Christian is the Biblical mandate to pray for those who are in authority over us. I have prayed for President Obama.  I will pray for President Trump.  Praying is not partisan.

joe

I don’t know Pastor Joe McKeever personally, but I feel like I do because of his blog (http://joemckeever.com). I really like this guy and the way he thinks.  Right after the election last November, he posted a provocative blog that he called “10 Reasons not to pray for Donald Trump – and one “huge” one for.” He began by saying said that there are lots of reasons why you may not feel like praying for our new President.

  1. You don’t like Mr. Trump.
  2. You didn’t vote for him.
  3. You dislike some of his staunchest supporters.
  4. To you, he represents the worst in human nature and will lead this country poorly.
  5. You feel he doesn’t have the wisdom, maturity, self-control, and judgment to lead the free world. 
  6. As for praying, you don’t feel your prayers would make a difference. The man is who he is.
  7. You often feel your prayers are weak. What good would they do?
  8. Somehow, you feel that group prayer would be more effective than soloing.  Something about praying with others makes our prayers seem bigger, greater.
  9. You’ve prayed for leaders in the past and can’t see what that accomplished.
  10. To pray for Trump now would feel like admitting you were wrong in your judgment about the man, like you are throwing in the towel.

“Any of that hit home?” Pastor McKeever asked.
And then he asked, “Can I admit something here?”

 

“I did not vote for Barack Obama either time.  And yet, he was my President, all eight years.  I honored him constantly (I Peter 1:17 instructs us to honor the king) and I prayed for him often (I Timothy 2:1-2 instructs us to pray for the king and others in authority over us). Christ-followers have our orders.  Scripture is clear on this.  Remember that when the Apostle Peter said to “honor the king,” Nero sat on the throne. Donald Trump ain’t no Nero, thank the Lord. So, you can do this.  You will honor the President, and you will pray for him. I believe in you.”

And if I had been writing that blog, that’s where I would have ended it. God commands us to pray for those in authority over us.  You know, as another bumper sticker puts it –

god

But not Pastor Joe McKeever. No, he had more to say, and what he had to say gets to the very heart of why our praying for those in authority over us cannot be, must not be partisan.

There is one massive, over-riding reason for praying for Mr. Trump, and it is not just that we are commanded to do so, although that should be enough.

So much is riding on him getting this right.  The stakes are so high.  Not just this land, but millions throughout the world look to America’s leaders to do the right thing, to hold their rogue nation accountable, to stand up to the oppressors, to help the helpless.  The opportunity is limitless, the responsibility enormous.

And Donald Trump is weak. He does not have what it takes to do this right.  No one does. Please don’t miss that.  No. One. Does. The job is too big, the pressures too great, the needs too overwhelming. That’s why you and I are going to pray for him. Whether he asks for it or not, we will lift him in prayer.  Whether he feels he needs it or not.  Whether he ever knows it or appreciates it. We will pray for him.

square

Tim Savaloia, a church worker, stood on the bank of a river in Asia “watching the bustling activity on the other side,” and he says that what he felt was a heaviness in his spirit.

The percentage of people in this region who know about Jesus is frighteningly low. How can that be? Jesus’ words came to my mind:’” … I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’” (Matt. 16: 18). I believe that with all my heart, and yet, as I gazed across the river, it seemed that hell was indeed prevailing, at least for a time. While we talk about pushing back the darkness, it seemed to me that the darkness was doing some pushing back. (http://www.cmalliance.org)

And then, remembering both Biblical teaching and his own personal spiritual experience, Tim says that he began to imagine what “the crushing weight of a praying church” pushing back against that darkness would look like.  And he wrote –

Without trying to be too simplistic, it seems to me that the core problem relates to our understanding of prayer. If we truly understood our divine call to pray, we would pray much differently. If we truly believed prayer can unleash the power of God, we would pray with greater passion.   And if we truly believed prayer can alter the course of history, we would pray with greater fervency.

This is the week that we get a new President. This makes some of us very sad, and this makes some of us very happy.  But whether you are sad or glad, as Christians, our first spiritual obligation is to pray for him — no ifs, ands, or buts. As Pastor Joe says, “Come on, I know you can do this!”   DBS +

 

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“God Reigns, and the Government at Washington Still Lives!”

garfieldJames A. Garfield was a 33-year old freshman congressman when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  …Over the years, a story emerged about Garfield’s actions in New York after learning of Lincoln’s death.  Like so many other places across the North, New York City was in chaos after the news of the President’s murder began to spread.  Anger, sadness, and fear gripped many of the city’s residents as suspicions of a conspiracy and the expectation of more killings ran rampant.  Supposedly, a mob of some 50,000 people filled Wall Street and screamed for the heads of southern sympathizers.  As the story goes, the crowd had just resolved to destroy the offices of The World, a Democratic newspaper, when a single figure appeared above them on a balcony and began to speak – “Fellow citizens!  Clouds and darkness are round about Him!  His pavilion is dark waters and thick clouds of the skies!  Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne!  Mercy and truth shall go before His face!  Fellow citizens!  God reigns, and the Government at Washington still lives!” These are the words supposedly spoken that day by Congressman James A. Garfield.  A supposed eyewitness to this event reported “The effect was tremendous,” and that Garfield’s words brought calm to the crowd (and saved The World’s office from destruction, one assumes).  This witness then turned to someone close to ask who the speaker was, and was told, “It is General Garfield of Ohio!” …This story became famous and, as historian Allan Peskin relates, “an enduring aspect of the Garfield mythology.”  Regularly re-told by newspapers under the heading “Garfield Stills the Mob,” it was widely circulated in Garfield’s later political campaigns, including his 1880 run for the presidency.  Sadly and ironically, it was also regularly mentioned in memorial pieces after Garfield was, like Lincoln, murdered by an assassin.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________     https://garfieldnps.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/james-a-garfield-and-the-lincoln-assassination/

I just love this story about James A. Garfield, apocryphal or not. Remember, he is a “Brother” President, one of the three Presidents of the United States with a direct “Disciples” connection.  Garfield was actually a preacher in our churches as well as the President of one of our church-related colleges in Ohio before his election to political office.  Lyndon Baines Johnson was a lifelong member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and his Washington D.C. funeral was actually conducted at the National City Christian Church, a church that was begun in James Garfield’s home when he was a Congressman.  And Ronald Reagan was raised a Disciple, went to one of our church-related colleges in Illinois, and held membership in a Southern California Disciples congregation for many years.

This week the United States will elect our next President. Depending on your politics, this will either be a week of great rejoicing for you, or a week of deep distress.  You are either going to feel like the Kingdom of God has come, or else that the world is about to end.  Either way, I’d advise you to tap the brakes.

The next four years are neither going to be as good as you imagine, nor as bad as you fear.

lincoln

Remember, the United States survived both the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s best Presidents, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s immediate successor, and one of America’s worst Presidents. I certainly hope our next President is more a Lincoln than a Johnson, but either way, I have every confidence that the Government in Washington will live because God reigns.

This was Max Lucado’s point in a recent post. He wrote –

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. (https://maxlucado.com/prediction-november-9/)

God’s sovereignty refers to God’s will and how it actually gets done in the vagaries of human history. Leslie Weatherhead’s three categories in his classic 1944 book The Will of God have long proven to be useful in my thinking on this matter –

godGod’s Intentional Will – This is God’s ideal purpose, what God intends for us and our temporal well-being in any given moment.

God’s Circumstantial Will – This is what God actually does when our free choices set up circumstances that are contrary to God’s ideal purpose for us. Rather than giving up on us, God finds the best way to cooperate with us in those circumstances to continue to advance His good purposes.

God’s Ultimate Will – This is God’s final goal. It is the same goal as would have been reached if God’s intentional will would have not been frustrated by our free choices, and it is the goal that will finally be achieved because God and His purposes cannot be finally defeated.

What these careful distinctions in the will of God try to hold in balance is the mystery of how God can ultimately be in charge of the universe while human beings still remain truly free. Someone has said that Weatherhead’s answer turns God into a kind of master chess player who is in a game with a rank amateur.  The amateur freely moves his pieces on the board just as he chooses, but the master knows what the amateur is doing, and he is always thinking seven and eight moves ahead of him.  The master sees the whole board all the time, and he knows how he will be able to turn every move that the amateur makes to his own advantage.  And so, while I don’t believe that God has a candidate in this or any election — that’s our “move” — I do believe that God has a purpose for the whole world that He will finally bring about regardless of who wins the election.

It was the Protestant Reformer who observed that “God can ride the lame horse and carve the rotten wood.” And in his reflection on what will happen on November 9th, Max Lucado cited Proverbs 21:1 – “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases.” All of which is to say that no matter who gets elected President this week, God is still going to be God, and His will — His Ultimate Will — is going to get done no matter how poorly or wisely we vote, and no matter how nobly or ignobly the one who gets elected governs.  Oh, we can certainly make things harder than they need to be.  History is proof of that.  God’s Intentional Will can be, and often is, frustrated by the poor choices we make.  But in those less-than-ideal-circumstances that our free choices create, I believe that God still finds a way, just like a master chess player, to cooperate with us where we are, and to advance the accomplishment of His will on earth as it is in heaven.

There have been 11 men elected President of the United States in my 63 years of life – 6 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Counting this one, I have now voted in 12 Presidential elections.  The candidates I have voted for have won 6 times, lost 5 times, and we’ll see what happens this year.   Without exception, the Presidents I have voted for have pleased me, and they have disappointed me, just as the Presidents I haven’t vote for have pleased me, and they have disappointed me as well.

King David’s last words were a reflection on Rulers –

“When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth” (2 Samuel 23:3-4).

This is what I want for every President of the United States, the ones I vote for and the ones I don’t. I want them all to be “like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.” And the fact is that sometimes they have been, and sometimes they haven’t — all of them, the Republicans and the Democrats, the ones I voted for and the ones I didn’t.  And my hope for #12 is that s/he will be, even though I already know that sometimes s/he will be, and sometimes s/he won’t.

And so, while I expect to be pleased sometimes, and disappointed at other times during the next four years by whoever gets elected President next this week, my faith is not in him or her, but in the God who never disappoints (James 1:17), which is why, with my “Brother” President, #20, James A. Garfield, I will wake up on the morning of November the 9th, and know that whoever has been elected President #45, that –

“Clouds and darkness are round about Him!  His pavilion is dark waters and thick clouds of the skies!  Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne!  Mercy and truth shall go before His face!  Fellow citizens!  God reigns, and the Government at Washington still lives!” 

DBS +

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