She snuck up behind me in line at Starbucks. It wasn’t until I turned around that I realized it was a longtime friend and fellow tennis mom. I was surprised three days before the Presidential election to see her any place other than canvassing neighborhoods. This fall she’s been a faithful volunteer for the Democratic Party working hard to get the vote out. Since politics doesn’t come up at tennis I’d never realized she was so involved locally.
Usually we talk about our kids but today I had to ask why she wasn’t out campaigning.
“I need a break,” she said. “I’ve done so much already. It’s time to leave it to the other volunteers.”
“My niece is working in Florida for the Obama campaign,” I said.
“Well, Florida is just like here it’s a battleground. They’re flooding the streets and airwaves there too.”
“I know. I’m ready for it to end.”
“Me too but I’m nervous,” she said.
“About what?” I asked.
“The outcome, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m good either way.”
She looked at me surprised. She knows me well enough to know I wasn’t being lighthearted or glib but obviously she thought I’d be more concerned. Her coffee was ready though and we were both running late so the conversation had to be left hanging. I walked away disappointed we couldn’t finish it. There’s as much a chance she’ll be elated on Election Day as there is she’ll be disappointed. I felt like I missed the opportunity to explain why I refuse to worry about it.
My friend’s fear is not unusual and I wouldn’t dismiss it by any means. Everyone I know is holding their breath and I think the reasons are more fundamental than political. Yes, the economy is a mess, our government is at the brink of disaster, and tensions are high around the world— but is that really why people like my friend, who are doing okay despite hard times, are so anxious?
I don’t think so and as I headed back to my car I was reminded of why I think folks are shaky when I saw a penny smack dab in front of me. It was such a shiny one that with the asphalt mirage I’d swear it said—“In God We Don’t Trust”. An idea this presidential campaign, more than any I can remember, has brought fully home.
While we’re a nation our forefather’s formed under God we aren’t a nation that trust’s God anymore. We trust what we’ve created which encourages a crisis of faith because the sheer size and complexity of our government makes accountability almost impossible to determine. Does the buck really stop with the President or is it the Congress? The courts? Or special interest groups? In what direction do you point the finger when an argument can be found on all sides?
This is why I think so many folks are fundamentally anxious. On some level they know that even if the candidate they’re supporting wins the question still remains—can they be counted on and can the institutions we’ve created be counted on? Is there enough structural integrity left to believe things can be turned around? I think the answer is at best, a maybe.
This is why I wanted to tell my friend I can’t get all wrapped up in the outcome of the election—to do so feels like I’m putting more faith in man than God. If I believe that God is bigger than the government and every other institution that intersects my life then I need to walk that line of faith with confidence. God will still be God on November 7th and unlike man He cannot forsake His word.
He’s promised my life is in the palm of His hand just like the penny I found is in mine. Because of that I don’t have to worry. He will meet my needs working through what man creates or around it. The choice is His just like the choice is mine to decide where I will put my faith first—in Him or man? In that election I have to go with God because He rules and reigns from above not the oval office.
“And God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36