Let Go!

Yesterday’s post was titled Hold On! Today, I thought I’d turn a corner. Here’s a different challenge. Let Go!

Today is primary Election Day in Arkansas (as well as five other states). It’s the end of a process; candidates (some who have been on the stump since last year) will learn tonight or tomorrow whether their campaign efforts resonated with voters. In essence, today is their moment to let go and accept the verdict of others.

ASIDE: This morning my four-year-old grandson was watching a Hard-Hat Harry video in which the title character takes viewers on a tour of the Post Office. When the video concluded, my grandson began to moan: “I never get any letters. I wish I could have some mail.” I invited him to take his pick from the above-pictured stack of mail lying on my kitchen counter.

Back to Election Day in Arkansas … the voters speak. Given early voting started May 5th, a stream of voters will have marked ballots for eventual tally. Taking a gander over on Facebook this morning, I discovered plenty of people with whom I interact were pleased to announce the candidates for whom they’d voted.

So, before the polls close and any votes have been counted, I offer the following perspective about letting go. No, this won’t be the point where I begin dishing up a round of platitudes and religious clichés, though I do expect to cite scripture and state how I, as a Christian, view elections and politics. If scripture and Christian principles are not your cup o’ tea, I hope I’ll see you tomorrow? For now, I’ll explain the sense in which I mean let go.

As I’ve reflected this morning on what the outcome of our state and local elections may be, I was reminded of the historical tale of Esther presented in the Old Testament book of the Bible bearing her name. A Jewish woman of great beauty, Esther was brought into the high king’s harem where she found favor with this Persian ruler whom the Bible identifies as Ahasuerus.

Further, this passage from Esther 5-8 acquaints us with another character named Haman who despises Jews. Haman (like Esther) enjoys a special relationship with the king. But every time Haman enters the palace, he passes by the king’s gate where Esther’s uncle Mordecai sits in a position of honor. Because Haman hates Jews, Mordecai’s presence at the gate sends Haman into fits of rage.

Crafting a devious plot, Haman convinces the king to sign a decree that permits Haman (and his henchmen) full discretionary authority to “destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews … on a single day …” (Esther 3:13) because “their customs are different from those of all other people.” Haman expects to be rid of Mordecai and all the Jews … and he even offers to pay into the royal treasury ten thousand talents of silver for the pleasure of mounting this killing spree.

The impending slaughter leads Mordecai to ask Esther for help. However, her situation is complicated because it’s unlawful to enter the king’s presence without an official invitation. In hopes of saving her people from complete annihilation, Esther agrees to speak with the king and most importantly for Esther, she’ll reveal her Jewish ancestry. Before she prayerfully seeks an audience with the king, she utters the memorable words: “If I perish, I perish.”

Read the rest of the story here. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate how God went before Esther and prepared the way, orchestrating details Esther could not have imagined in order to save the Jewish people from destruction.

How does Esther’s story relate to elections, you may ask?

As someone who believes in the sovereignty of God, I share the sentiments of Benjamin Franklin whose Constitutional Convention address (delivered on June 28, 1787) included these words: I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build, they labor in vain that build it.'”

That excerpt expresses my firm conviction. Whether “my” candidates are elected or not, I remain confident that God does “govern in the affairs of men.” The Old Testament is replete with examples where God’s people, the Jews, were blessed or cursed. Frequently, they were taken into captivity by pagan nations (such as during the time of Esther) because of their wickedness (sin). Many of the Old Testament books contain long passages expressing God’s grief that his people have forsaken their Shepherd.

I don’t mean to equate our nation with the chosen people of God, but as a nation, the US has been amazingly blessed … by God’s grace. However, by not holding on tightly to those deep personal values Kipling commended, today’s topsy-turvy values seem perilously close to Haman’s might-makes-right value system.

The future is never ours to keep. It’s always in God’s hands, notwithstanding anyone’s perception to the contrary. Elected officials change (from time to time) but the change most needed begins in the human heart. Without that change, we remain in the same quandary as God’s wandering (though chosen) people … captives in a strange and hostile land.

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