I’m sitting here looking at a ballot that came today. I remember doing something similar four years ago, confidently marking off the choices I had made and then sealing it for the mailbox the next day. This year I am a bit slower and more deliberate in most of my options, although the one at the top is the easiest for me to make. I made that decision some time ago.
What makes me pause is all the people running for county offices like the school board and judges and justices; all of the candidates seem to be incumbents. I really don’t feel informed enough or even qualified to determine whether or not to retain them, how they ruled on various cases, whether politics affected their judgment, and do they follow the laws and statutes set for them to uphold. Still, I am grateful to have the opportunity to have a say in whether or not they continue to serve.
Then there are the propositions that affect different parts of our town, city, county, or state government operations. Some proposals increase budgets for repairing the infrastructure and funding for school, fire, police, parks and recreation, housing, or medical entities. They are essential because they help decide where we put our priorities money-wise and which causes we feel about most strongly. Again, it is my duty as a citizen to take these seriously and make my feelings known by how I vote.
Most years, I’ve just filled out ballots as best I could and mailed them off without a lot of consideration. However, this year requires some thought over and above just voting as quickly as possible and stuffing it in the envelope to be mailed out the next day. There’s so much at stake. Last time it seemed the majority chose one candidate to serve as President, but that person was not inaugurated because of our system that employs an electoral college. Instead, the minority candidate was inaugurated.
There wasn’t a government system that allowed citizens to vote on representatives and issues in Jesus’s time. Rules, laws, taxes, and such came down from the very top and trickled down to the poorest of the poor. In our own country, a group of men of one ethnic group got together and decided that we needed to be free from the seemingly arbitrary rules and taxes imposed on us by a group of wealthy merchants and landowners (not to mention the Monarchy). With Jesus, it was a matter of taking it or facing the consequences. It was that simple.
One of the significant issues in this election is somewhat hidden from sight – religion. We’ve heard lots about Evangelicals, Catholics, and others expressing their religious stances on things. Still, there are those of us who quietly look at what God has asked us to do and tried to get on with it to make God’s wishes reality. We don’t go around signing Bibles as if we were in a bookstore, autographing Bibles as if we had written them ourselves. We read what is in that Bible and look to see where God wants us to go and do.
There are many rules and regulations in the Bible, no doubt, but are we really so caught up in whether or not to wear a cotton-nylon blend in clothing, eating chicken instead of shrimp, or keeping our herds separated by color? We need to pay attention to the vital stuff – loving our neighbors, doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God, helping the poor and needy, caring for the young and elderly who are less able to care for themselves, and above all, preserving or even replanting the earth we live on by God’s command.
This election year, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do what I can with the cardboard piece I have, marked with names and blank spaces to indicate my support or not as I feel God wants me to do. Some choices are no choices at all, while others are much harder to make. Still,
I have this gift of being able to express my preferences. Many generations of my forebears didn’t have that opportunity. Some of us here in America didn’t get the privilege until the second decade of the last century. I owe it to them to respect what they fought for and exercise the rights they earned for us for our common good.
Now I’m off to mark my ballot with thought and prayer. I hope when the time comes to vote, everyone looks to see where God is in their voting and in their desire for the way our country should go in the next few years. It’s the one hope I cling to in this most chaotic, fearful, plague-ridden, violence-prone, disrespectful, and uncertain of years.
God bless us all.
Image: Ballot 2020; Property of author. 2020.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives in Avondale. Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. She lives with three cats who consider her to be staff, available at all hours to supply whatever they think they want or need at any given time.