Because I didn’t realize that my polling place operates on Central time, I had an hour to stand in line this morning and ponder the imponderables about the state of our nation, the state of Alabama, and the etiquette of pulling out a snack-sized coffee cake for breakfast when you didn’t bring enough for everyone. But while standing there, I was confronted with three small things that ex-fundamentalists can learn from the voting process. In no particular order they are…
We’re not doing it alone
Almost nothing in our lives happens in complete solitude. Fundamentalism presents the mythology that a little church or small school is out there serving God almost alone, standing against the rest of the country and the world. Yet much like an election, people and forces are involved that go far and wide beyond the simple scope of our one polling station, our one town, or our one state.
People will vote today whom we have never met and whom we would not like if we did meet them. Yet, they too have a place in this story, they too are doing the work of the political process. In much the same way there are people in the kingdom of heaven doing work in places you will never go doing work that you will never see. They matter too.
It isn’t over until it’s over
Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that finishing is better than starting. At the end we can see what actually happened. The results are in. The count is finished. The score is final. For better or worse we know what happened.
Unfortunately, there are many who want to tell us what they think will happens and the dozen reason why their predictions are smarter than the myriad of others. Pundits on morning shows compete with pastors in the pulpit to tell us their best guesses about the future of our country, our churches, and our families if we don’t follow their personal game plan. Fear, manipulation, and half-truths are the order of the day.
But how often are they right? The anti-Christ has not yet taken over the earth. The Russians haven’t invaded. Things aren’t over no matter which way this election goes. The end of our stories has yet to be finished and the end may still yet be much, much better than the beginning.
A one-time decision isn’t enough.
Today we go out and choose leaders. Tomorrow half the country will be somewhere in the stages of grief between anger and depression. The good news is that this isn’t the last election this country will ever have. In one or two or four years we’ll get to come back and do this again. Don’t like the results? Wait a while. This too shall pass.
But the lesson here is that at no point can we say “this is finished. We’ve made a good decision and that will be the LAST time we have to choose.” Life is a process which requires adjustments, false starts, and second guesses. No single decision made in a voting booth or an old-fashioned altar can be expected to irrevocably change your life forever. Be still. Wait a while. This too shall pass.