We are only a few months away from 2012, and this is the time of the year when the media coverage of our presidential candidates heats up. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was also the time of year marked by friendly dialogue, critical thought, winsome debate and openness to learning together? Many of us have nearly resigned to ignore the media all together. The accusations and criticism can reach deeply into our souls, rendering us hopeless instead of focused on the hope we have in Christ and his Kingdom. However, the scriptures have some hopeful guidelines to share in their ancient stories. While some may wallow in doubt or wander blindly, we have a chance to be inspired by these stories that restore our focus.
In Moses’ writings, from Exodus chapter 18, there is a story that is directly applicable to our situation today. It begins with a more intimate introduction as God reveals to Moses a new name. The word-for-word translation is the verb meaning “to be” or “I AM”. More importantly, translations in context could be “I Am because I Am”, “I will be what I will be”, “I am the one who is”, or my favorite: “I am whosoever I will be.” Early in the relationship, God clearly establishes that He will not be defined, controlled or limited by our understanding. Significantly, at this moment of transparency, God invites Moses to participate in His mission to set the oppressed Hebrew people free from their corrupt government in Egypt. God doesn’t merely state his name, “I Am” to show His transcendence. He also shares His name in the context of an invitation: a request for Moses to represent Him with this name and to trust that God’s presence would go with Moses. It is a very personal invitation to participate in the unfolding gift of God’s Kingdom – His ruling presence according to all of His ways – coming to earth.
The story develops with the series of plagues inflicted upon Egypt, the miraculous deliverance of the Hebrew people, and eventually, their quest to enter a new land of promise and hope, where they can establish a way of life according to the great I AM’s relational covenant. Establishing a nation takes guidelines, learning to govern and rule, establishing systems for the community to live together, and so forth. One of the very first lessons for Moses is about governance. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and a priest of Midian, helps Moses establish a system of delegation, and guides him with examples of the qualities their leaders should possess: “capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.”
Now, we (Colorado Springs) no longer appoint a city manager, but instead, elect our mayor. Many of you had the opportunity to vote in our first mayoral election. It is one way we should participate in our own governance. Of those registered to vote, only about 50% voted in the run-off. Then, with only two candidates to choose from, about 64% of those registered voted in the final election. That is great news! However, the bad news is that many more could have registered to vote in the election. If you missed out on the opportunity to vote for our mayor, please reconsider preparing now to vote in the upcoming presidential elections. This is our chance to elect leaders we believe are most God-fearing, trustworthy and people who hate dishonest gain.
I know, we might respond with “I’m confused, there is just too much information out there” or any other number of excuses. But how did God respond to Moses when he doubted, feared and hesitated to lead Israel? When Moses did eventually step forward in faith, God began to send faithful people like Jethro to help him lead. Let’s take our responsibility seriously during these next several months by asking for discernment to vote well and praying diligently for our leaders to be people of integrity and strong leadership, and for all of us to be guided by the grace and truth that comes as a gift from the great I Am.