It was somewhere around my third grade year when the entrepreneurial spirit hit me and my brother. This was back in the day when a kid could walk around the neighborhood or ride a bike to the 7-Eleven store a couple of miles away and no one had cause for worry.
My brother and I would go to that corner store to fill up on candy and lemonade mix. We noticed that a number of other kids from our subdivision would do the same thing. That’s when the idea struck us: we’d start a candy stand in front of our house. We would buy the candy from the store, jack up the price a bit, and save our friends the trip. We’d throw in some lemonade to help them wash it all down. I’d like to say we did this to be kind to our friends. But honestly? We wanted to be independently wealthy.
We opened up the store and were an immediate success. Supplies were flying out of our stand quicker than you can say “Pixy Stix.” The boys were all wanting to learn our business secrets. The girls were asking for our phone numbers. We’d sell out, put out our “Be Back in an Hour” sign, and take our profits to the store to stock up again.
A couple of weeks into our gig we were outlining our first seminar on “How to Grow Your Own Business” and planning our first franchise into the next neighborhood when we heard a low roar. We looked up and saw a big guy—he must have been at least sixth grade—wearing jeans and a T-shirt with one of those candy cigarette packs rolled up in the sleeve. He was rolling up on his mini-bike and stopped with a dramatic skid in front of our store.
I watched all this from a distance. I had started back to the house to get more lemonade. My brother was watching the stand by himself. The sixth-grade-gang-guy flashed a knife and demanded our money. It was a tough decision facing me: run to my brother’s aide or run…to the house and get my Dad.
Dad was bigger than me so I ran to him. My Dad was about 5’7” but to a sixth grader he might as well have been Arnold Schwarzenegger. As soon as he appeared the boy hopped on his bike and took off like a dog with his tail between his legs. My brother and I stopped worrying.
We kept on about our business knowing our father was watching over us.
And you can keep on about your business knowing your Father is watching over you.
This election season has been tumultuous: Bickering. Fighting. Name-calling. Accusation-hurling. Slander-slinging. And sadly, much of that has been from people who claim to follow Jesus.
I get it. We think we are clicking along at a good pace with our private little stands doing what we do in the world. Then along comes someone to cast fear into our hearts and we panic. (Yes, the candy store was real but is now an analogy.) And when we panic we get anxious and we worry about our future.
Is this how followers of the Nazarene should behave? His Word tells us to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. His Word tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (I’m not sure the debates we’ve endured count as persecution, but they may come close.) His Word reminds us that “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
- What do the people around us think we trust in by our behavior? The “nation” or the “God” we claim to be under?
- What do our children think when they hear our fear-based reactions? As Andy Stanley famously said, we need to “Stop scaring the children!”
- What do our neighbors think when they watch us on Sunday sing “Our God is an Awesome God” and on Monday sing the blues because we think our world is doomed no matter who is elected?
Can I remind you of something that may help? “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne” (Psalm 11:4). He has not gone anywhere. Your Father has not vacated his house. And perhaps all he is waiting on is his people to call on him just as I called on my father that day at the candy stand.
Isn’t that the verse many have dusted off over the past few months?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
It might be helpful for us to remember those words were written to the nation of Israel. To apply them today we must not apply them to America. No. Today these words would apply to the church, the New Israel. If there is humbling and praying and seeking and turning to be done, it is to be done by God’s people. His church.
So let’s do that. By the time you read this the election will have been decided. Depending on the outcome you may feel as if some bully has shown up and disrupted your world. You may be worried. You may be anxious.
If so, won’t you do what I did? Run to your Father. The heavenly one. The one who is in his holy temple. The one who is on his throne.
He’s a lot bigger than 5’7”. But the result will be the same. He’ll protect you and restore peace. He’ll heal our land. So let’s let him be our Father. And let’s do our best to look like his children.
America needs us to.
Question: What is your greatest fear this morning? Will you take it to your Father?