God, the Election Results and Controlling What I Can
As Day 4 of my Big Hairy Audacious Month draws to a close, I have added water to my daily life, some days more, some days less, but always some. I have a nice shiny sink, per Fly Lady; I have worked on one of the ten cross stitch projects I want to fully finish by December 5. And, oh yes, we now have a declared president-elect and vice-president elect.
Not everyone is happy with the results. i am not in charge of results: I am in charge of doing something, anything to make the world a better place. So I voted. But I didn’t control the outcome of the election, anymore than I can make anyone else happy or change someone’s mind. What I can control are my own reactions, behavior, and choices. I don’t always make wonderful choices, so I rely on the Spirit’s direction to guide me and give thanks that God allows u-turns and the scenic route as we journey through life.
One of the helpful thoughts from Buddhist philosophy as I learned in a college course, is the idea: “renounce the fruits of your works.” My paraphrase is, “Don’t take responsibility for how things turn out, instead do what you need to do without expecting a certain outcome.” That is so freeing to me and also a challenge. It’s loving without expecting those I love to change their behavior, to do the right thing without expecting others to return the favor, to vote without investing yourself in the result..As I listen to people frustrated with and often angered by the declaration Biden as president, it reminds of other votes and It is always interesting to me that when some people of faith get what they wanted in the first place, that’s God’s will for the world. When they don’t get what they want, there has been a terrible miscarriage of justice and God’s will is being thwarted. They’ve made the decision to try to control what can’t be controlled (at least not without doing something illegal): the results.
We can’t know for certain who is God’s favorite politician because it’s arrogant to assume we know God’s infinite mind. Instead we rely on what we do know about God and about what God expects from us, and what God wants for us.
God expects us to love those who disagree with us; God expects us to love our enemies – whether they’re Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Patriots fans or Ohio State,;God expects those of us who claim the name Christian to be lights for the world, and so model the ability to listen to others’ opinions without name-calling, and to trust the future to God, not to Trump or Biden. God is in control, God is in charge. I comfort myself when I don’t get what I think is right with these words: “Nothing evil is permitted to occur that God will not finally bend to the good.” (PCUSA Study Catechism).
A football loss, a disappointing choice in sanctuary carpet, or even an election result may not be “evil”, but it may feel wrong to us. Then we turn our hearts and wrap our minds around the reality that God will bend things to the good. We know that because the Bible tells us so!
God is not limited to using only those we in our limited view as human beings think God should use. After all, in the past, God used Cyrus to bring the Jews home from exile; Rahab, an outsider, helped the spies which led to the defeat of Jericho; a tax collector was a disciple as was a zealot – one worked with Rome, the other wanted the military defeat of Rome; Saul was turned around on the road to Damascus; Ruth, a non-Jew, became the great-grandmother of King David, and through that lineage came Jesus into the world at Bethlehem.
Whoever is president, whichever color you paint the sanctuary, or whether you choose a whole turkey or turkey breasts to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving: whether or not you got what you wanted, it’s not your vote, it’s not your decision that will triumph. It is God who transforms our efforts, our votes, our ideas. Any elected leader is still a human being; any miracles or good things that get done are gifts from God. Pray for our president and president-elect; but trust your future to God.
By God’s grace, good things will overflow and “justice will run down like a mighty stream, and righteousnessss like an overflowing waters.” (Amos 6: 8)