By Tim Reeves, the Country Chaplain
We’ve all experienced life changing moments — when a parent dies, when an older sibling dies, your first romantic kiss, your first school dance with a “date,” you enlist in the military, you get married, you hold your firstborn child, your job is eliminated, you declare bankruptcy, your spouse files for divorce, you have a heart attack but wake up, etc.
We could fill these pages with similar “before” and “after” life moments, but whatever they are, they change us by forcing us to examine who and what we are and what we’re doing with our life.
One of the most interesting defining moments I ever experience as a pastor is when I visit a person who is confronted with their own impending mortality. When a person faces death and knows there is no escape, it amazes me how perspectives on life are changed and they become more open to examining, and sharing, perspectives on their life’s “defining moments.”
Typically, they admit they were not able to fully comprehend the “defining moment” at the time nor appreciate it for how it changed or affected their life. That’s what happened to the disciples when Jesus first called them to “Follow Me.” When they answered that invitation, they had no idea of what answering that call would entail, but Jesus knew. It took years for the disciples to understand the “defining moment” for what it was.
In a few weeks, Americans will be heading to the voting booths in what promises to be a truly “defining moment” in our nation’s history.
Now I promise, I will not get political here. I will not endorse a candidate nor a political party. If I did, I would certainly alienate half the readers and get applauded by the other half. That would be like an official at a basketball game; with every call you make, half the folks think you’re the best official in the world and the other half think you’re the dumbest.
However, I do believe our nation faces a truly “defining moment” with this presidential election. I’ve been voting for more than 40 years and I can still remember my first presidential election: the 1972 election contest between then incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon and Democratic contender Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. President Nixon won handily, taking all electoral votes except for Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and beating Sen. McGovern by 18 million votes, one of the largest margins ever. Yet Mr. Nixon actually “lost” because two years later, he was forced to resign due to the Watergate scandal.
Voting for the first time was a “defining moment” in my life. I will admit, however, that I did not appreciate the right to vote at that time as much as I now appreciate it, knowing the right to vote is a privilege that many of the world’s people do not enjoy. I can honestly say I have never missed a November election since that first election, both because I believe it is my responsibility, but also because I appreciate having the freedom to vote.
With that thought in mind, I believe this presidential election will be a “defining moment” for our young country. I can’t remember when we had two candidates so totally different in their viewpoints, perspectives and vision for America. Not even Sen. McGovern and President Nixon were as polar opposites as Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. The differences between these two candidates and the course they envision for America is clearly divided.
I don’t know what your political leanings are; it doesn’t matter to me whether you’re a D, an R, an I, a P or a Q or whatever. The important thing is that you vote your conscience; that you sweep aside the political rhetoric, that you throw the media spin in the trash, that you don’t look at the personal qualities such as whether one candidate is rich or the other is a great speaker, and decide what is best, in your opinion, for the future of the country. These two candidates have clearly defined and different paths for the country.
This is an election where I have no qualms saying the candidate’s political party connection is un-important. What matters is how America will survive “before” and “after” this election and which road we will travel as a country.
Back to Jesus and the disciples, those fishermen, tax collectors and common men He called to follow Him had no idea where that path would eventually lead them. They had no comprehension of what the “before” and “after” would entail.
With this election and these candidates, both presidential but also state and local, we do know, don’t we? Our best first step is to pray for God’s guidance in selecting the right candidates. Until next month, God Bless.