The Politics Of It All

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I can still remember the moment when I first understood that Ronald Reagan wasn’t going to be president anymore. I was downstairs in the fellowship hall at the Advent Christian church in Hyattsville, MD. It was 1988, and I was swilling down some punch with a big glob of vanilla ice cream in it. As I sat on the edge of the stage I listened to my Mom and some of her friends talking in the nearby kitchen. There was a little window in the wall between the fellowship hall and the kitchen and through it I was listening with half an ear to their conversation. Over the clatter of dishes I heard one of them say, “It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore.” That statement arrested me.

I was born during the latter half of the Carter administration, but as far back as I could remember Reagan had been at the helm. It was the height of the cold war and, as a child steeped in the culture of the 80’s, my view towards the Soviets was not a nuanced one. To me they seemed evil and dangerous. They were the reason why we held drills at Ridgecrest Elementary School, located right outside of Washington D.C., in preparation for a nuclear attack. I have in my mind’s eye a memory of me and all my classmates scrambling under our desks in first grade. Looking back on it now I wonder what protection they thought those desks would have offered in the event of a real nuclear attack. At that time I couldn’t comprehend the complexities of the cold war, but I could vaguely apprehend the horrors of nuclear war. Those fears were woven into the fabric of our culture in those days. It was present in the TV I watched and in the adult conversations I overheard. Despite my parent’s efforts to shield us from such unpleasant concepts as lurking submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and thermonuclear war I had managed to soak up enough to make me deathly afraid of those dreaded initials- U.S.S.R.

My view towards Reagan was also not a nuanced one. In my simple, childlike mind he was standing between us and the ever-menacing Soviets. This was the backdrop behind the moment when I heard those words coming from the church’s kitchen, “It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore.”

“Strange?”, I thought, “more like terrifying.”

I finished off my punch, letting the aforementioned glob of ice cream slide down the waxed cardboard interior of the cup and into my mouth, then I made my way over to my Dad who was talking with another man from the church.

I interrupted them, “Dad, is Ronald Reagan not going to be the president anymore?”

My Dad looked at me half-distracted and also kind of annoyed because I had rudely interrupted his conversation. Then he said with a nonchalant, and dismissive air, “Right…yep…that’s right.” Then he turned and resumed his conversation with the man.

I walked away feeling completely relieved. The inner turmoil I had experienced moments before had been resolved. My Dad didn’t seem to care that Ronald Reagan would no longer be president, and so I decided I didn’t need to be concerned either.

Sometimes I wish I was still ten, but doesn’t God want me to be like a ten year old in my posture towards Him? Is it possible for me to resolve the turmoil I feel when looking at this current election and world events by simply meditating on the fact that God, my Abba Father, does not share that turmoil?

Consider the words of Isaiah 40:22-25

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

I hope you can listen in as we worship God through the study of His Word. In this message we look to God’s Word to prepare and steady our hearts as we head into the voting booth next week.