I wasn’t planning on blogging about this but I guess you can say that the feeling has me gripped. I’m not going to comment on the historical significance of this event because I cannot even begin to understand what this means to African-Americans in this country. I won’t even pretend to try; this is more about personal impressions…
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t and still am not the most sold out supporter of President Elect Barack Obama. HOWEVER, I will also just as quickly admit that tonight’s event swept me away. Coming into tonight’s festivities, my intentions were to maintain the role of an observer as much as possible. (I did vote, so I guess I wasn’t completely an observer but also a participant). Anyway, despite my best efforts to remain objective, I was quickly swept up into the competitive spirit of seeing “my guy” win.
My feelings swung several times in several ways during the last five or six hours. Hope was and is the prevailing sentiment. But reality slapped me upside the head at least a few times and I remain cautiously optimistic. Questions like “what can one man do?” and “can anyone possibly do what he promises to do?” have plagued me for many months and tonight was no different.
Then he spoke. It was only a speech—but somehow, it felt like more than that. His words were poised and well-articulated; his delivery was accurate and poignant; but the most striking impression to me was the focus in his eyes. From what I saw, I did not see a man who was overwhelmed by the situation or who was too big for the moment. He seemed to understand the burden as best as anyone possibly could, but he also seemed very humbled by it. He was also quick to share the credit and the spotlight with those who contributed to his journey. I think for the first time, the hope that I dared not dive into became a realistic step.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to crown President Obama the messiah just yet. However, I do believe that he represents exactly what this nation needs: something to believe in and rally around. Although he hails from one party, he seems to have a bipartisan approach, a collectivist attitude, and a diplomatic spirit. If nothing else, the rest of the world may start to see Americans as something more than militaristic, naïve, and air-headedly arrogant.
Still, it’s not enough. My hope is not in a man. As Derek Webb put it in his song A King and a Kingdom: My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man/My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood/Its to a King and a Kingdom. My hope is not in change or in America. I’m not saying that Obama was or was not “God’s choice.” Let’s please not be so simple-minded. This election has taught me that the issues are far more complicated than I thought. God spoke to me in a different way tonight.
Here’s what I mean. I was harshly rebuked at the election booth this morning. After the presidential candidates and the U.S. Senate candidates, I had absolutely NO idea who I was voting for. In reality, the local and state elected officials have far more practical impact on my life than the nationals ones, so why don’t I know who they are?! I’m sick of being voluntarily oblivious. What’s more, I realized that I am also largely unaware of and uninformed about national issues. As I felt personally convicted, my thoughts turned to the Church. A change in office is all well and good, but what will the Church do? Can we engage people in honest and open discussion on political issues without attacking or getting defensive? Will the Church change? Will we wake up this slumber?? I think God is concerned about the state of His people just as much as He is about who is leading the “Free World”.
Above all, I believe in God’s sovereignty. I certainly don’t understand it, but I do trust and believe in it. The world appears to be falling apart around us. What will the Church do? What will you do? What will I do? These are the questions that this election has forced me to confront. I know that God is building His Kingdom through ways seen and unseen. Will we take part or stand on the sidelines and watch our chance pass by?
I’m still cautiously optimistic, but I can say that the flicker of hope in my heart is sparking brighter than it was. I hope that these next years will be interesting because we will step up to die in prayer on our knees, answer God’s call, sell out to His mission, and make them unforgettable years. It’s for a King and a Kingdom.