|Photo courtesy of dimitri C|
1) Many of us pray and pray and pray that God will direct our leaders and it seems like these petitions are falling on deaf ears, or God is simply choosing to ignore our requests. We think this because what we are seeing in Washington and our state capitols does not look like something that is being guided by God. However, what if God is guiding them and it is simply not in the direction we think He should be going in? This is a toughy because we all have our preconceived notions of what a leader would look like if God were at the helm of their life. Just stop and think for a moment about what a godly leader would look like in our nation. What if we are wrong? What if our "civil religion" and Christian faith have become so intermingled that we can't tell one from the other? There is actually a biblical reason that I say this and it came to mind when I had the initial thought. Listen to the words of Isaiah 55:8-9;
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And my thoughts than your thoughts."
What if God's higher ways look a whole lot different than we think they should? What if we're praying earnestly for God to guide our national leaders and He is, it's just on a higher level than we can comprehend? In all honesty, I think the real take-home lesson here is that we must be willing to admit that we don't have God all figured out. No matter how much we think we know, the reality is we know next to nothing when it comes to the divine mind and plan. God has given us what we need to know in His Word but even that is just a drop in the bucket of who God is.
2) The second option that comes to mind when contemplating the idea that God is guiding our leaders is this; "What if He is guiding them down this path on purpose?" This is where we as a nation come into the picture. What if God is leading them down a path of suffering because of the sins of the nation? The two books of Chronicles in the Bible are a litany of idolatry and reform, sin and obedience and so on. By the time we get to 2 Chronicles 34 God has made up His mind that Israel will soon suffer in captivity. Despite the fact that Josiah is one of the greatest kings Israel had seen since David, and he instituted sweeping reforms throughout the land God still says;
Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched (2 Chronicles 34:25).
Then He tells Josiah;
Behold, I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, so your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place and on its inhabitants (2 Chronicles 34:28).
Even though Josiah tried as hard as he could to stave off the disaster that was coming, God's mind was set and the machine of His wrath was set irreversibly in motion.Could it be that this is where we find ourselves today in the United States? We pray, now that God would direct our leaders and He is but it is down the path of His judgment and as Hebrews 10:31 reminds us, It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Dear friends, there is no doubt in my mind that we, in the United States, "have burned incense to other gods." I don't mean that God is going to punish us because we allow people of other religions to worship freely in our midst. That freedom, I believe, God honors. I mean that we worship the gods of fame, power, money, "things," beauty, death and so many others. These are the gods we worship, adore and burn incense to, all the while tipping our hat to the living and true God. This, I assure you, He will not stand for.
So, what if God is guiding our nation's leaders and it just isn't the direction we envisioned? I will say this, I do not think we should stop praying for our leaders for any reason whatsoever. For one thing, we do not know that we are beyond to point of no return. Take Josiah as an example again. He never stopped trying to honor God with his leadership even though he knew the wrath was inevitable. No matter how grim the outlook is we should, as Winston Churchill would say, "never, never give up." On the other hand, what if God is leading our leaders and His direction just doesn't match our preconceived notions? Then the burden lies with our own prayer life. Can we learn to pray "Not my will but thy will be done"? Can we find it in ourselves to trust in God's plan no matter what it is?
This is a tough thought and I think that is okay. I hope that it has caused you to think some about what is going on in our nation. I know it has given me pause on some of my own notions. Let me close this in the only way that seems appropriate right now, a prayer.
Lord, I don't know what all is going to happen in our beloved country over the next months, years and decades. I know that we have strayed so far from your commands and your ways and I pray that we would repent of those sins and turn back to You. Father, I do want to lift up our national, state and local leaders to you. They have a difficult, and many times thankless, job. Lord, they help set the pace for our nation and they have the power to legislate all kinds of things and so we pray for your guidance in their leadership. That being said Lord, I pray that you will would be done no matter what it is. It may be that you are leading in a direction that we don't see right now; or it could be that you are taking us down a path of judgment. No matter what God, I pray for your will and I pray that we will be able to accept it and rejoice in it. I pray this all in Jesus' name.