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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prayer for the Candidates' Families

I was at the YMCA on the treadmill, 27 minutes of jogging and walking (more walking than jogging).  Then there was the session on the rowing machine, around 10-12 minutes.  In the work-out room there is a large TV constantly running CNN. 
I had headphones on (David Crowder, in case you care), so I could not hear the program.  But even without sound it was clear that we were watching Chris Christie’s announcement that he is running for president.  The entire time I was exercising, Christie was on the stage, giving his announcement speech.  His family, wife, two sons, two daughters were with him on the stage the entire time. 
I don’t know anything about his children, but for the most part, I thought they looked incredibly uncomfortable, especially the younger son.  He appears to be about my son’s age, an early adolescent.  My teenager is a great kid, but like all boys at that age where manhood is in sight but not yet reached, he is full of uncertainty.  How to stand; how to talk to adults; how to talk to girls; how to deal with his rapidly changing body; it is all awkward.  It is that way for any 13-year-old.
I cannot imagine my son standing on the stage with me while I speak.  But there this kid was.  Occasionally he tried to force his face into a smile.  Most of the time, he clumsily tried to look interested when in fact his eyes communicated this thought.  I would rather be anywhere than here.  I think my son has the same thought when he has to sit through my sermons.  He doesn’t complain about it but my guess is sitting still and listening to an “old guy” talk is not his favorite thing, even when the “old guy” is his dad. 
I saw this and I felt so bad for this young man.  As I mentioned, I do not know Chris Christie.  I do not know his relationship with his kids.  I hope they have a great relationship.  I hope his kids are really proud of their dad.  But that doesn’t mean they have to be excited about the dynamics and workings of politics.  Maybe, I misread that kid’s facial expressions.  Maybe he loved being up there.  It didn’t look like it.  I thought he looked miserable. 
Every family in the race for the presidency will be examined under the public’s microscope.  That intense scrutiny will disqualify many candidates before the primaries even begin.  When the pressure forces them to drop out, I will be happy for their children and spouses.  Those who endure the spotlights and the daggers thrown by the opposing party and the biased press will then be pilloried even more.  When that happens, pray for them and do it more than once.
I don’t care what your politics are.  When you hear a talking head on TV critique a female candidate’s physical attractiveness or the attractiveness of a male candidate’s wife, then pray for the woman.   When you hear some commentator shred the reputation of a candidate’s child, even if that child did something stupid, even if that child is over 20, pray for the entire family.  I looked into the eyes of Chris Christie’s son (as much as you can look into the eyes of someone on TV) and I just thought our feeding-frenzy media in America is so wrong. 
Pray for Clinton’s family, Obama’s family, Bush’s family, Christie’s family and all the families of the leading politicians in America.  They sacrifice so much. 
I often hear Christians, especially fundamentalists, call for prayer for America.  They see moral decline, they see new laws about marriage, they see conflicts with religious groups that are not Christian, and they become fearful that American is no longer a Christian nation.
The prayers go like this:
Oh God, bless this land.
Oh Lord, save us from destruction.  (And I ask, who, again, is destroying us?)
Dear God, lead this country back to you.  (And I ask, is America going to be constituted as a nation in the Kingdom of God?)

To me, these prayers for America are vague.  I don’t know God feels about nondescript prayer.  I don’t think it helps.
I urge you to join me in a specific prayer.  Pray for Chris Christie’s younger son, that God would help him survive the rigors of his father’s presidential run, however long it lasts.  Pray that God will protect this kid from falling into dysfunction under the glare of the public spotlight.
Pray for all the families of the candidates.  When you see a political commentator on TV say something completely inappropriate and cruel about a candidate’s family, pray for that commentator.  Ask God to show that person compassion and in being show compassion, maybe the individual will learn how to show some himself.
Pray.  Please pray and pray specific prayers.  I don’t know what good the prayers will do for America.  But, I want Chris Christie’s kid to have a good year.  I care about him.  He is going to need God’s help. Pray for him.

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