So I voted…now what?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
— Psalm 20:7

In just a few short days, this heated election season will come to an end; to me, the prospect is delightful—I can’t wait to sigh a big, fat breath of relief. This has been a crazy few months! While politics can always rile Americans, I don’t recall such a vicious battle in my years of voting. And it’s not just that we’ve gotten riled up or that Americans have been so split on what is best for our country—it’s that Christians have become so split, revealing the true values of our hearts (for better or for worse), not just in government policy, but in how we view others and how we believe we should be treating them. It’s been a challenging time for all of us.

And soon, we will vote our consciences; we will vote for the candidate we believe will best push back the effects of The Fall on behalf of the weak, needy, poor, helpless. Our ballots will be safe in their boxes, we will know the results, and we will be able to turn off our televisions and sleep with the finality of the majority voice having been spoken. To an extent, we all trust the American political system and will hopefully be able to wake up on Wednesday with grace and hope overflowing from our hearts as we move forward.

But what will that look like exactly? How do we move forward as God’s children living under the rule of a broken system in a broken world? Here are just a few things to ponder that I pray will encourage us toward Jesus and each other.

1.     Remember that our salvation rests in God alone—not in our president, government, or any law. The United States is a unique and amazing place to live. We have a lot of ugly, horrible things in our history, but we also have incredible, redeeming aspects of how our country has evolved. Many of us remember better days fondly, and many of us hope for better days ahead. And I wonder: maybe these feelings are a reflection of our desire for Heaven; maybe underneath our nostalgia about happy bygone days or excitement about happier days to come, there is a desperateness for Heaven, After all, as Christians, we are first and foremost citizens of Heaven, not America. And Heaven is what we long for the most—where all evil and hurt will be undone and where our hearts will finally be healed. Our hearts long for a Savior, and the only one who can save us is Jesus.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…
— Ephesians 3:20

2.     Be a shelter for those around us. 2016 has been kind of a crazy year! I’ve been surprised not just learning more about my friends’ political convictions, but about a lot of Christian leaders’. We’ve all been surprised at the twists and turns in this journey we are on as a country, and we all know that emotions are running super high. After Tuesday, lots of people will be angry, hurt, fearful. They might feel uncertain about the future of our country but also uncertain about their own futures. This is a perfect opportunity for Christians to initiate redemptive, gospel-filled conversations with those around us. I admit that I haven’t been great at doing this throughout the election season, but it’s very much on my radar now as November 8th looms. How can I be a safe place to others in their anxiety? How can I provide a heart shelter for the scared and broken? How can I reflect God’s love and pursuit of his children? How can I speak the comfort of the gospel to others?

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!...

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
— Psalm 34:8&18

3.     Continue pushing back the effects of The Fall in our communities and neighborhoods. Serve kindly and humbly. As Christians, we are called to love and serve others. One way we try to do this is through electing public officials who are passionate about serving and helping others, too—that is one reason elections are so close to our hearts! But even if our candidate isn’t elected, our calling is the same. In these dark days, we can be beacons of light and warmth to those around us. We can remind others, through God’s love, that hope is not lost. The peace we have in Christ can draw others toward him, encourage them to consider the source of true hope! And when things in our world feel crazy or out of control, God never is—he is our steadfast rock, our Savior and King!

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
— Colossians 3:12-14

4.     Pray for our leaders and our neighbors. This might seem obvious and easy, but I don’t find it to be either; while I do joyfully pray for my neighbors and community, I frequently forget to pray for our leaders. And leaders that I struggle to respect?! Goodness—that is definitely a challenge for me. But of course we are called to pray for them—for their salvation, for their hearts and minds, for wisdom and discernment and courage. For their marriages and children and relationships with citizens. Praying is transformational and mysterious, and it takes us right into the loving arms of God.

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
— I Timothy 2:1-2

5.     Rejoice that God is Sovereign and good. We serve a God who is the definition of love, goodness, grace, power, holiness. He calls us his sons and daughters! He made the ultimate sacrifice to be in relationship with us. He is our refuge, he is our strength. He promises never to leave us. He promises never to forsake us. He promises that nothing can come between us and him. He pursues us. He delivers us. He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. He is beauty. He is gracious. He delights in the diversity of his creation. He forgives us. He draws us close to us. He provides shelter and promises eternal healing. He looks at us like a groom looks at his bride. He grants us peace, he is our hope. There is nothing good that he withholds from his children. How then shall we respond? With deep joy and gratitude—how can we help ourselves?! At the end of the day, God is in control, he knows all the answers, and his good plan will eventually come to fruition—what deep comfort that brings us knowing this world will someday be redeemed in God’s name.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39