Friday, August 29, 2008

A mark of common grace

Probably not a surprise to anyone that I've not been watching all the speeches this week at the Democratic National Convention. I had no real intention of watching Barack Obama's acceptance speech last night either. But as God would have it, I happened to turn on the TV last night just as he made his way to the podium. The cheers, screaming, chanting brought Aisley back in the room from brushing her teeth. What's the deal?? What are they yelling about? she asked. The democrats are electing Obama to be their nominee for president. I told her. She just shook her head, made a non-committal noise and walked away. She came back just a moment later and said Isn't it sort of a big deal? Because he's like the first black guy to do this? A pause...That's kind of funny to me. she said as she walked away again. I turned back to watch with tears in my eyes.

Aisley wasn't incredulous when she asked...taken aback... shocked... wondering what my reaction would be. Well, I'm sure she was a little shocked that I was watching considering she knows we hold very different views from Obama on so many issues that matter to us. But she wasn't shocked for the reasons I would have been at 12 years of age. It was no big deal to her that we were watching a black man accept the nominee for the highest office in our land.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed when I was 10 days old. Though desegregation of schools was begun in 1954 with Brown vs. the Board of Education, busing students to actually achieve integration of schools had only been happening for about 8 years when I was Aisley's age. There were no blacks in my elementary schools that I can remember. I know there were none in the entire town where I went to junior high and high school. Forty years ago, Obama was more likely to be killed in that crowd than applauded.

But there it was. A standing ovation. His wife was introduced and a white woman next to her, Mrs. Biden, stood in her honor along with the cheers of 80,000. His daughters were beaming, thinking about nothing other than seeing themselves on camera. The camera kept panning the crowd...tears streaming down the faces of blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians. My heart turned to those young black men in our lives. There is a generation of these that have been left behind while so many others have made strides forward. (For an amazing, saddening look at this, click here.) But tonight, they saw their face looking back at them, reaching for the highest goal of political office and watching also tens of thousands cheering him on.

I was touched, deeply touched by the grace that God has chosen to give our country. The hate that was shown throughout the civil rights battles is only a portion of the truth that our hearts are desperately wicked. When God allows our sins to show, it is only a revealing of truth and only a small part of what we've earned. But when he changes the hearts of tens of millions of people to accept one another, to applaud one another, to support one another...He deserves the praise, adoration and devotion of those same people.

I know though that mostly God won't receive what is due His Name. Mostly we'll hear praise for Obama, democratic congressmen and supporters, hard working Americans, old people, young people...anyone but God. The Republican Convention won't be different, I'm sure. But some from both parties are joining me today, especially I think those who lived it and hated it. They will see this as an amazing gift to us...a moment when the common grace of God shown on our country, when hope was offered in a new way to millions of people.

I'll admit to you that as soon as he finished accepting the nomination and got into his speech, I muted the TV. I was having a good moment. I didn't want to lose it by hearing his strategy. But for a moment, I gave praise to God and used Barack Obama in the same sentence. Now there's a miracle.


Kim said...

Hi Mama, I luv you waaaaaaaaaaaay more than you luv me!!!!!

Luv Brennan

eileen mom nana said...

I, too, watched in amazement as he accepted the nomination.. and his talk was amazing, if we could only believe it AND then today, goodness, we have a woman as vice-president who has not served in Washington; and MIGHT have to step into those President shoes... what now... what do we do next.. will be interesting for sure.. amazing year for all the kids to watch; hope they are all getting involved..
Brennan!! I love you more!

eileen mom nana said...

But the Steers won! Amazing!

lindsey said...

wow, this is an incredibly post. so many times i take for granted that we can live with people of different skin colors in a way that wasn't possible or socially acceptable a little more than 40 years ago. i always choose to dwell on how i dislike obama's strategies and views, instead of focusing on what God has accomplished in this country. o that i praised Him more! thank you, kim, for putting this thought out!