When you’re 20 years old and plagued with more self-confidence than wisdom, you do stupid things. I was a college sophomore with friends to impress, so I needed wheels. An upper classman had just put his ’46 Harley up for sale and I just knew I had to have it. Straddling a rumbling motor on wheels with a classic windshield and a suicide clutch appealed to my impulsive spirit—and since the guy was selling it for almost nothing, I bought it. Really dumb only begins to describe the decision.
After a few weeks, spring break provided an opportunity to ride The Beast home from school to surprise my folks (school, being in the Chicago area and home located on Long Island, New York). That’s 800 miles. The adventure was irresistible.
Stupid doesn’t consider the consequences of youthful indiscretions, so I was totally unprepared for what happen. In Indiana, one of the two pistons blew. After limping to a motorcycle repair shop, I also blew most of my travel money. By the time I made it to Cleveland the next day, lake-effect snow covered the roads. The foot-activated suicide clutch almost fulfilled its name as a quick change of gears caused the rear wheel to spin out. Sliding down Euclid Avenue behind a horizontal motorcycle in rush hour traffic is not the best way to stay alive. Cars scattered and the sliding bike with its human trailer finally came to a halt. It took a half hour, sitting with my bike on the side of the road to compose myself.
Slipping-and-sliding wasn’t fun anymore, and the slush splattering up from the front wheel was freezing my wet jeans. It was then that I discovered that teeth could chatter almost as loud as an old Harley engine. I finally stopped at a garage, where I bought an old car inner tube (tires had inner tubes back then) and cut it in half to make a pair of makeshift leggings. I must have looked stunning . . . but for some reason, rubber inner tube chaps never made it into the popular riding apparel magazines for Harley-Davidson. On that particular day, however, rubber leggings were the cat’s meow—and it solved my chattering problem.
I traveled all night on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes, finally making it home. Two days later a friend persuaded me to take him on my cycle to his girlfriend’s house to impress her. As we turned the corner, a carburetor connection broke, spraying gas all over the engine. We rolled up the driveway of his girlfriend’s house—with her standing in the front yard—and made a spectacular impression. The motorcycle was on fire, and so were our pants!
My motorcycle craze ended that day. Pants on fire will do that to you.
This experience wasn’t the last time I got what I wanted and discovered that it really wasn’t what I wanted. Bad decisions usually lead to disappointment. Be careful what you ask for—you may get it! is now etched in my mind.
Do you remember the time when Israel demanded that God give them a king? God gave them what they wanted—tall, handsome Saul. But what looked good at first, turned out to be a tragic mistake.
These thoughts have gone through my mind often over the past several months as I have observed the two-ring political circus we are all watching on television. I certainly know that promises made by aspiring candidates for a utopian future may be nothing more than expensive window dressing on a second hand shop. This time around, however, my concern runs deeper than that. Character flaws and immature behavior may make entertaining television, but they may also be harbingers of an approaching train wreck. Both Democrats and Republicans are a mess. And I keep wondering if we are observing a divinely orchestrated demise of a once proud Republic.
Christianity has survived and thrived in every sort of government and under the most threatening rulers. Yet, the democratic experiment that is America has provided an unprecedented opportunity for the open expression of the Christian faith and the unhindered spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Preserving that cultural environment is certainly worth our most serious endeavor.
Now, I have no desire to inject my political opinions into the fray—after all, my decisions have not always been that astute. But I am concerned about the consequences of our current national choice. As Christians we are commanded to pray “for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2 – NAS). I suspect that includes praying over the process by which authority figures are chosen.
So, as believers in Christ, what are we looking for?
A tranquil and quiet life presupposes a freedom to worship without restriction or harassment. Government leaders can influence our lives in a variety of ways, but freedom of religious expression without fear of interference is important to our Christian faith. Remember: we are not voting for a pastor. The candidate does not have to agree with all of our doctrinal beliefs. What we are interested in is a leader who will protect our constitutional right to worship according to our convictions and to peacefully express those convictions in the public forum.
America has become increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity under our current liberal leadership, and if their politically correct agenda is not curtailed, our religious liberties will continue to erode. The question is, who will stand strong and firm for the defense of the First Amendment of our Constitution guaranteeing our religious freedom? For a believer in Christ, other considerations pale in comparison. The First Amendment is “first” for a reason.
A second major concern has to do with character and integrity. When the Apostle Paul writes, “in all godliness and dignity,” he lays the stress on the willingness of public officials to encourage moral integrity in its citizenry. Biblical morality has been the foundation of American civil and criminal law. Removal of the Ten Commandments from our court houses does not change that historical reality. Of course, we as Christians would prefer leaders who practice moral integrity (a major concern in today’s political climate)—but when believers in Christ lose their businesses or employment (including jail time) for seeking to live according to their moral consciences, we have a government on the slippery slope of totalitarianism.
With regard to the current primaries and upcoming election, we not only have the responsibility to pray for those who will be in supreme authority, but also to vote for the candidate who will most likely champion traditional morality.
How does the candidate stand on moral issues? Does he or she possess moral integrity? Is the candidate more-or-less likely to defend our right to pursue godliness and moral dignity? Morality is much broader than any given religion, and forms the basis of any civil society. If Christians do not vote their moral consciences, then I suspect one day Christ will ask them why they didn’t.
And, as a believer in Jesus Christ, forget about not voting because you don’t like the choices. A non-vote for the most advantageous candidate is a positive vote for the lesser candidate. Either way, you voted. So, why not vote for the candidate who will give us the best chance to pursue godliness and dignity.
In the quagmire of choices confronting us as citizens of heaven who happen to live in America, may I encourage you to think spiritually before you choose politically. Remember: Be careful what you ask for—you might get it. And when your pants are on fire, you may have serious regrets.