The Voices of Democracy

Now that Election Day is behind us, Americans have spoken.  But what have they said?  Based on the percentage of those who didn’t vote, many Americans said they didn’t have anything to say, or maybe they communicated that they didn’t care.

Some might not have said anything because they made the common mistake of thinking their vote wouldn’t make a difference.  They overlooked the clear lessons of history that demonstrate elections were often decided by very narrow margins, on many occasions.  They needed to take to heart that their vote will make a difference!

While we aren’t sure what may have kept people from voting, at least we have an objective record of what the voters did say.  Now it’s up to the pundits to interpret the implications of America’s votes.  Is America satisfied with status quo, or do they want change?  If they want change, will their elected officials will able to bring it about?  Finally, if they bring about change, will it be in the appropriate direction?

Most Americans give lip service that democracy is the greatest form of government in the world.  Accordingly, we do everything within our power to bring democracy’s benefits to countries who have been ruled harshly by some other form of government.  While these efforts are well-intentioned, they often overlook the reality that a democracy is only effective when the citizens of that country are sufficiently committed to secure and maintain a society of order and fairness.

Many are seeing that some countries are filled with people who have little awareness of, and little commitment to what it takes for a democracy to work effectively in their context.  Sadly, I wonder if America may soon become one of those countries!  Even many Americans foolishly assume that we are entitled to receive the benefits of a democracy yet have no responsibilities for it.  Some have reversed JFK’s timeless observation on what makes a democracy effective.  They would encourage: “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”

Our national anthem says we are, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Some have pointed out that we are “the land of the free because of the brave.”  And while “the brave” generally refers to the men and women who make up our military forces, I wonder if any democracy can endure without a significant percentage of “brave” citizens.  Are you brave enough to speak out against evil, even fight against evil, for the sake of freedom?

It has been pointed out that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  No wonder Katherine Bates noted that America is beautiful “for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.  America!  America! May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.”

A Promise

promiseOfTheDay

They were desperate.  Their funds had been depleted and their hopes for keeping the ministry alive had been dashed.  They had prayed, but God had not answered.  What were they going to do?

Not surprisingly, they were heart-broken and despondent.  So much blood, sweat and tears had been poured into this ministry through many years, and by many servants of the Lord.  Evidently God’s blessing had been snatched away from them and their work.

So they began the process of shutting down the ministry.  Nevertheless, a few painful days later, they received the glorious news that a promise had been made from thousands of miles away, that their financial needs would be met in full by a stranger!  Needless to say their weeping was replaced with rejoicing!

Though the money would take several days to reach their account, they eagerly began to make preparations to reopen the ministry.  But even before the money arrived, a word from the Lord came.  One of the ministry leaders received a soul-searching revelation he was to share with the entire ministry team.

“Brothers, God has shown me that we have committed a grievous sin.  We prayed to God to meet our needs.  But when we didn’t see Him answer, we lost our faith and our joy.  Yet, just because a person thousands of miles away, a stranger we did not know, promised us the funds we needed, we rejoiced!  We believed the promise of a stranger, and we trusted him to be faithful to his word.  But a promise is only as good as the one who makes it.”

“Now then, we have a Heavenly Father and a Good Shepherd, who we know to be totally faithful and true.  He is no stranger to us, and He has on so many occasions provided for our every need.  And though He has made so many promises to us in His Word, He has never failed to keep even the smallest one of them.”

“How it grieves the gracious heart of our faithful Savior, that we would believe in and rejoice in the promise of a stranger from thousands of miles away, and yet not trust and rejoice in Him?  Has He not promised, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’?  Has He not proved Himself faithful countless times in that promise, ‘He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it’?  Surely the promises of God are infinitely more trustworthy than the promises of man!”

These leaders humbly received this word from the Lord and repented of their sins of unbelief.    Now, will this story compel me to do the same?  After all, His promises and His faithfulness always have, and always will prove worthy of regular and radical trust in Him!  A promise is as good as the One who makes it.

Remember

    A number of years ago a fictional story from an unknown source circulated on the internet. This is the way I remember it.

    A deadly virus broke out in a distant part of the world. The virus was easily transmitted and led to terrible sickness and death within
days. As soon as the authorities verified the seriousness of the virus, they embarked on finding a cure. Meanwhile, the death toll mounted into the millions within a matter of months.

    While extreme measures were taken, the virus continued to spread to other parts of the world. Widespread sickness and death quickly followed. Soon it became all too obvious that the entire human race faced extinction in the not too distant future. Not surprisingly, governments and health authorities pulled out all the stops as they frantically
raced to find a cure.

    Finally, the experts found the virus had a weakness. Evidently a very rare blood type held the antibody necessary to manufacture an effective antidote for the deadly virus. A worldwide search began for anyone who might have this rare blood type.

    While sickness and death continued to ravage the planet, a young boy was discovered who had the rare blood type needed to stop the pandemic. After rushing him to a hospital for further tests it was determined that the boy’s blood would enable an effective antidote for the virus to be quickly manufactured. As the encouraging news leaked out, the world finally had a reason for hope!

    Meanwhile, the parents of the boy were told the ominous news. In order to get enough antibodies for the quantity of vaccines that would be needed, all of their son’s blood would be required. If the son didn’t immediately give up all his blood, the world would perish before enough vaccine could be produced and disseminated.

    Incredibly, the parents broke down and gave the doctors permission to take their son’s lifeblood, all of it. After exchanging heart wrenching goodbyes with their innocent child, the parents watched their only son’s life slip away while his precious blood was taken from him. While the rest of the world rejoiced, these parents sobbed uncontrollably.

    True to the promise of the experts, the vaccine stopped the spread of the deadly virus and mankind was spared extinction. As the world began to work through the rebuilding process, many suggested a worldwide holiday to remember the sacrifice that had been made for their salvation.

    Once established, the first few observances of this holiday were quite meaningful. But as the years and generations marched on, the holiday soon became like so many other holidays. Some extra time off work, and an occasion to enjoy more family outings. Few people took the time to stop and remember that if the son hadn’t died, they wouldn’t have lived.

    As it turns out, not all of this story was fiction.

The Secret to Getting There!

One of the greatest joys I had when I was an instructor at Moody Aviation was having my students come to our home for an evening of food and fellowship. Without exception, we found each of them had a fascinating story to tell and many unique qualities to respect! Nevertheless, getting them to find our house in the country was a continual challenge! Therefore, I made a map showing them how to get to our home and distributed it to my students as needed.

    However, since the way to our house involved lots of narrow, winding roads, and my map was crude at best, some students would get lost along the way. In the end, I found the most effective way to get them to our place was to meet them at the airport and say, “Follow me!” While giving them a map was much easier for me, allowing them to follow me was much easier for them. Sometimes my students would get lost following my map, yet not one of them ever got lost following me!

    I wonder if God doesn’t give us too many detailed instructions for our lives because He knows how easy it is for us to get lost following a map. Yes, we have God’s Word to give us general directions, but so many personal details aren’t given in there. And while He certainly could make a way to give us a more detailed map for our lives, He has taken the more helpful approach by simply saying, “Follow Me!”

    Moment by moment, decision by decision, day by day, season by season, we are expected to follow His heavenly GPS signals. “Go straight, turn left, turn right. Speed up, slow down. Avoid that pothole, watch out for that drop-off, beware of that other car!” And we certainly don’t want to hear that dreaded GPS announcement, “Recalculating” that indicated we missed a turn! So we listen carefully to our Mapmaker and Master, and we obey Him without question or delay. It’s the best plan, it’s God’s plan.

    When we make our own plans, or when we follow someone else’s map, we are destined to get lost. Even so, some people encourage us to follow our hearts. Yet the Bible says our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and who can know it? Others tell us to follow the crowd since the majority must have it right. But Jesus said the gate is wide and the road is broad, and the majority will follow the path of least resistance, even though it leads to their eventual destruction.

    We must walk by faith in Jesus! When we do, we will not only make it to our final destination, we will please God every step of the way! Jesus said He is the Way, the only Way: through the maze of this life, and to the bliss of eternal life. We don’t need a detailed map for our life. Our Mapmaker simply says, “Follow Me!”