The big news of the day was that I was blessed to lead a precious 80-year-old lady to the Lord while she was lying in a hospital bed just days from death. It was two weeks ago, and I have since preached her funeral. It never ceases to amaze me how good God is; this was a lady who had gone 80 years vacillating between not wanting to have anything to do with God and not even believing that there was a God, and yet God came by her way one more time, just in time.
Watching tears stroll down her cheek and listening as she prayed, "Lord, I'm a sinner, and I'm sorry. I believe that you rose from the dead; would you please save me?" is something I will never forget. Nor will I ever forget asking her what just happened and having the biggest smile I have ever seen come across her face as she said, "He forgave me!"
But it is the smaller news of the day, emanating from that very same hospital room, that I am currently musing on and still laughing over.
When I arrived that day, it was me and the lady and her daughter in the room. I asked her daughter how mom was doing, and she gave me the medical prognosis. But she knew that I was there to talk to her mother about the Lord; I had actually come at the family's request. So, wanting to see if her mother was coherent enough to talk, she asked, "Mama, do you know where you are?" The dear lady shook her head slowly and said, "No, I really don't." But then she asked her, "Do you know who the president of the United States is?"
Instantly the lady's eyes popped wide open, and, just as clear as a bell in words dripping with disgust, she said, "Oh, Lord, yes, I know who the president is. Blech!" And, as it turns out, she really did. This lady could not have been convinced to vote for Joe Biden if it would have restored her health and made her the wealthiest woman on Earth. Her opinion on the subject was very, very strong.
I left the hospital that day both rejoicing in a precious soul saved just in time and also musing on the precious blessings of liberty that we Americans often take so much for granted. Here in America, we are, at least for now, free to have very strong and very vocal opinions on our elected officials, no matter who and no matter from what party. In many places across the world, the only vocal opinions people are allowed to express about those in charge are positive opinions, whether they feel that way or not. If that dear lady had lived in Iran or North Korea or China and expressed such disgust for the ruling clerics or Kim Jong-un or Xi Jinping, she would likely have either simply disappeared or been brought before a firing squad. And those nations are by no means outliers; scores of lesser-known yet equally dictatorial nations cover the globe today, places where rape and murder and torture are standard government fair in dealing with any opposition.
Not only do we have liberty to be vocal about our leaders, we are actually blessed with the ability to pick our own leaders. Every couple of years, we have elections in this country, and we the people get to decide who will represent us in government. We have grown up with this, and I fear that we do not realize how rare and how precious it is or how easily it could be taken from us. Liberty neglected eventually becomes liberty negated.
Early voting has already begun in many places around the country, with the official Election Day being Nov. 8 this year. And, as always, there will be a disappointingly large number of people who claim to love America and liberty and yet do not vote. They will blame their busy schedule or say that, for some reason, their one vote does not matter, or they may even pretend to be pious about the subject, sniffing snootily and saying, "If I am going to have to choose the lesser of two evils, I choose neither."
And at some point, when good people have stayed home in enough election cycles, our land will become unrecognizable, and not for the better.
Proverbs 12:24 says, "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute." The parallelism in that choice bit of Hebrew poetry is pretty clear. When people are diligent, careful and attentive to the things that matter, they will be free; they will bear rule. But when they get slothful, careless and slow about things that matter, they will be put under tribute; they will no longer be free. This is true of individual people, and it is true of nations full of people.
There should never be a time when we do not vote. We should vote in primaries; we should vote in general elections; we should vote in special elections; we should vote in referendums.
There should never be a time when we do not study the candidates and the issues. We should never simply rely on campaign ads or even on supposedly neutral news coverage. Everyone has biases, even people who assure you they don't. Do your homework.
There should never be a time when we do not try to rally others to vote and participate. There is strength in numbers, especially in something as obvious as voting.
And from one preacher to other preachers, there should never be a time when the pulpit falls silent on crucial political/societal matters. Throughout the Bible, prophet after prophet stood in the very presence of kings and called them out on wicked policies and practices. Mind you, churches cannot turn politics into the main message, but they also cannot neglect to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.
If the next generation is to enjoy the same liberty that we have, we will have to safeguard and hand it down to them.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.