Church, it should be noted that I am writing this devotion on Election Day. By the time you read this, we may have the results of the election, or we may not, but nevertheless, I have been thinking about past elections and how I felt after all was said and done.
Over the last two weeks, as I have driven back and forth to Trinity Christian Academy, which is our church’s preschool on the Reeves campus, I drive past a lot of enthusiastic flag wavers and sign holders. Some I honk for, and some I don’t. Some I wave at and some I simply nod and pray for while driving past. My children have gotten into the spirit of this too and encourage me to honk and wave and make enthusiastic noise as well. They really get into it and play along.
This morning, as we were listening to Disney’s Moana music and driving to school, I remembered my first election and the part I played in it. It was 1992, and I was in 1st Grade. My parents, one a teacher, one an architect were supporting the independent candidate Ross Perot. Earlier that week, I had been voluntold (this is when you are told by someone you love to help do something but act like you enjoy doing it) to hold a sign on the busy corner between my school and my home with my parents. At school that morning I had told my friends, who were as wise as I was at age 6, that I was helping hold signs for my parent’s candidate, Ross Perot afterschool. I was immediately laughed at. My friends told me that it was stupid to hold signs for that man, and when I asked them why, one friend said it was because his ears were too big! Wait, what?! His ears were too big? I didn’t realize that the facial features of a person were the main qualifying concerns for the Country’s highest office, but obviously, I was ill-informed. It is interesting what you remember about events in your childhood as you process them as an adult, but I distinctly remember but holding the sign over my face, so my friends couldn’t see me. I remember, even at a young age feeling embarrassed but torn because I wanted to do what was asked of me, yet I did not know how to express myself in the moment.
Of course, (spoiler alert) Ross Perot did not win the election, Democrat Bill Clinton did, but Perot did win 18.9% of the popular vote which was the highest share won by a candidate outside of either the Republican or Democratic parties in almost 100 years. I didn’t know then, what I now know and what I try and teach my children through words and actions every day. Scripture says it like this,
“7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
This verse is pulled from the story of when the Prophet Samuel is choosing the next King to anoint for Israel and time after time, the sons of Jesse do not impress God. God was looking at the heart of the future King, not his physical appearance or his stature. What a relief! But also, how very confusing. You see, even four or five thousand years ago, leaders were chosen based on their physical appearances, it would seem. Which would mean that my first-grade friends were just following along with the age-old process of judging the outer rather than the inner. We haven’t evolved much as a human race in the last few millennia it would appear, but then again, doesn’t this realization point us once again to the wisdom of God? We are broken individuals that have finite abilities to discern and judge who is worthy and who is not. We are not THE Judge, thank goodness and at the end of this election, however it turns out, we won’t have any more power to judge or condemn than before. We will however have the power to include, rather than to exclude. We will still possess the power to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. And we will be given a new chance to see ourselves, in the reflection of Jesus the Christ.
Will, we hide behind the judgments of others, embarrassed and ill-informed, or will we choose to build a relationship with the unlikely “other” and get to know their heart? My hope for you and for me is that when all is said and done, we will choose the road less traveled and be a change-agent for the Kingdom of God. Ultimately it is our choice. Over the next few days, we will be left with the reality that half of our country will be hurt, disappointed, angry, and possibly feeling hopeless. What are we going to do about it? What might God be calling us to do in this season of divisiveness? And how might God’s grace show us how to live into our Kingdom’s identity to get to know the person on the “other side?”
May I offer this prayer for us today?
Good and Gracious God,
I am not the Judge; you are, Oh God because you look at the heart. I don’t want to look at others with my eyes anymore, so see for me, discern for me and help me love as you love.
Be present Lord Jesus, be present.