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The story is told about a couple who was having a triple celebration. Both of them were celebrating their 60th birthdays, along with their 40th wedding anniversary.
During the party, a fairy appeared and said, "Because you have been such a loving couple all these forty years, I want to grant each of you a wish. "
The fairy pointed her wand to the woman first. Being a faithful, loving spouse, the wife wished for an all-expense-paid cruise to a romantic Caribbean island for her and her beloved. Whoosh! Instantly the tickets appeared in her hand. She squealed and beamed with delight.
Next the fairy turned her wand to the husband to grant whatever he asked. The man pulled the fairy aside and whispered, "In all honesty, I'd love to have a wife thirty years younger than I am." The fairy waved her wand and --poof!--he was suddenly 90 years old.
The old adage is true: Be careful what you wish for!
This week, in what everyone is calling an historic election, roughly 52% of the people who voted did so primarily on the basis of wanting "change." And now that Senator Obama is the President-elect, all signs indicate that change is what we will get.
The question is, "what kind of change?" Will he change the social and moral fabric of our nation by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the Freedom of Choice Act (removing all restrictions from abortion, including parental notification)? He has pledged to do both things.
Will a President Obama change the country's long-held allegiance to the Constitution?
He is on record being critical of the Supreme Court in the 1960s, saying its justices failed to go far enough because they "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution."
Many people might think that adhering to the Constitution was a good thing
Will a President Obama bring radical change to the free-market system that has made America and Americans the wealthiest nation in the world? Some people seem to hope so.
Consider the words of an excited voter in Florida. She explained her enthusiasm for an Obama presidency this way: "...I never thought this day would ever happen. I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him [Obama], he's gonna help me."
Can the government accomplish all of that? And even if it could, would we want it to? But it would be change.
There has been a lot of talk this political season with blatant spiritual overtones. People from Halle Berry to Jesse Jackson Jr. to Chris Matthews have attributed to the new President-elect near-messianic qualities. Even some of the words of the candidate himself, along with his wife, drift away from the political realm into the spiritual one.
In a speech earlier this year, Michelle Obama said, "We have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation", and then went on to imply that electing her husband was the way to do it. I agree with her diagnosis but take issue with her prescription.
We are without doubt living in uncertain times. People are concerned about the economy, terrorism, and a whole host of other issues and seem to understand that things aren't right with the world.
Unfortunately, it is as if we are so eager for "change" and so hungry for "hope" that we are not concerned with the nature of the change or the object of the hope.
Putting one's hope in the government generally or a politician specifically -- regardless of his/her party or platform - is a sure path to disappointment (at best) or oppression (at worst). Yet we persist in doing it in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
The Bible makes it clear that there is only One who can bring the kind of change in our lives that leads to true and lasting hope. That One is Jesus.
Well, this election is over and the voters have spoken. People are longing for change, and the winner has promised to grant their wishes.
But like a certain 90-year-old would tell you, be careful what you wish for.
Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. If you have questions or comments for Chuck, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org