Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Letters to My Daughters: Let’s Talk about the Election

Dear Daughters:

There’s an election coming up, have you heard?

That’s a joke. How could you NOT have heard? It’s talked about on every television channel, in every hallway at school, around every water cooler, and at every playground in America. You can’t escape talk about the election, even if you wanted to.

A couple of nights ago as we watched the evening news I actually said to Julia (out loud!), “I’m starting to not care who becomes the next President.”

Part of my comment was borne out of sheer frustration: I can’t do much about the outcome anyway. We live in Illinois, the heartland of corruption, so no matter how I vote it won’t make a difference. And I’m so sick of thinking, hearing, and talking about this that I’m done with it all.

You and I have every good reason to throw our hands up in frustration this year. This entire country has become a circus. The choices seem either dreadful or heinous or a combination of the two. Namecalling, lies, and now even violence have become de rigueur this year—I’ve never seen anything like it.

But another part of my comment to Julia came from my reading of scripture recently, and that’s where I’d like us to park our brains and our hearts during these turbulent days.

I recently read the book of Numbers. (I know. So weird, right? But when you read through the Bible in a year, you can’t exactly skip it.)

Anyway, I got to Numbers 14, and I had to stop, read it again, and then read it again. I’ve even gone back to read it several times since then. It just seems to reflect so much of what is going on in our country today.

Here’s the situation. In the previous chapter, Moses selected twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan—God’s promised land to the Israelites. They came back and reported that the Canaanites were a big deal. Literally. They were giants. Huge.

But the land. Oh the land! Flowing with milk and honey and grapes the size of your head. Plus it was the land God told them to possess and promised that He would help them do it.

You know the story. Ten of the spies said, “No way. Can’t do it.”


But Joshua and Caleb said, “Wait a minute. God told us we could do it, so let’s believe Him and take the land.”

Besides, it’s kind of what God commanded.

You know who the Israelites believed, right? We get to Numbers 14 and we read that the entire community of Israel has been up all night, crying and wailing and begging Moses not to make them go into the Promised Land. They are scared. Totally frozen with fear.

And finally they come to the conclusion that it’s not their lack of faith that is their problem, it’s their leader.

Yeah, that’s it! We need a new leader! Let’s ditch this Moses guy and get somebody else.

Do you see the problem here, girls? The Israelites took their focus off of what God wanted them to do (take the land) and could certainly help them do (defeat the Canaanites), and instead they blamed leadership. They exchanged their faith in God for a faith in a person and things went downhill fast.

Moses is completely demoralized. Wrecked with self-doubt.

And God? God is MAD. In fact, God is ready to destroy them completely and start over with new people.

But Moses falls on his face in front of God and prays what I think is one of the most amazingly honest prayers in the entire Bible. (You can read it in verses 13-19.)

He appeals to God based on three things: God’s reason (“what will the Egyptians think?”), God’s own words (“you said . . .”), and God’s character (“in keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love . . .”). And God is swayed to forgive the people, but not without some pretty significant punishment—they would have to backtrack and would never live to see the Promised Land.

How does this relate at all to our current situation? Well, here’s what I think.

1. We cannot put our faith in a leader. Period. Leaders are human. Politicians will let you down. Eventually this election cycle will end, positions will be won or lost, and hopefully people will stop shouting at each other. 

In the meantime, however, don't take your focus off of what God wants you to be doing in the place where He's put you right now. 

And do not think for one minute that a certain woman or man or political party will be the answer to this country's problems.

2. We can put our trust in God. Moses wanted the Israelites to look heavenward toward a God who had answered all of their prayers, delivered them from slavery, and who promised to bring them into freedom if they would just follow Him. God had already proven trustworthy, yet every time the Israelites took their eyes off of Him, they got into trouble.

Psalm 56 says, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. . . . I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”

I know that mere mortals can make life pretty miserable here on earth. I’m not naïve enough to know that whoever runs our country doesn’t make a difference. Yes, policies could cost us something. The character of our leader does matter. And, yes, I think we should vote.

But in the end, we need to have a bigger perspective than just this election. We need to take a stand that says, “I trust in God. I refuse to let fear drive me.”

3. We can and should pray with fervency and honesty to God for our nation. Moses isn’t afraid to get really honest with God (go read it!), and I don’t think we should be afraid of that either. God isn’t afraid of our honesty—He can handle it. In fact, I think He relishes it.

And the best part is: He answers.

So if you’re feeling fearful, frustrated, or fed up like I am, remember girls, that life, the future, even our country is not about a leader. It is SO not about the leader.

It’s about a God who is totally, completely, fully trustworthy. That’s where our faith should lie at all times, maybe especially now. Your future is secure in the hands of a sovereign God who sees all, knows all, and hears all.

Take courage.

I love you,



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  1. A well-written and principled blog post on a polarizing subject. Thank you.

  2. This is the first post on the election I have been willing to share freely. Thank you.

  3. Shelly, I read this post when you wrote it, but I didn't leave a comment before. Now I've just re-read it, and I'm compelled to comment. This is so good. Your advice to your daughters is spot on, and it's the same advice I need to give to my sons--and frankly, to myself. Bless you for sharing your wisdom!