Lifestyle

FAITHFUL LIVING: No politicking needed in your relationship with God

“What about a catchy slogan? It would help the kids to remember to vote for you come election day.”

The year was 1968. I had hurried over to my best friend’s house to talk about the big news. It had come from Mr. Bud Schoenbach, our elementary school principal, who seemed to enjoy making announcements over the public address system, for there was an endless stream of them.

“We will soon hold elections to fill positions on the student council,” he had said.

When it was announced that a fourth grader could be elected secretary many heads in the classroom turned to me because I had fairly neat handwriting. I turned to my best friend Tedi because we did everything together.

And it was Tedi’s mother who came up with the slogan idea that afternoon at their kitchen table. Tedi had no desire to be secretary, but she did want to be my campaign manager.

That year, after much laughing and sketching and rhyming, we built my campaign for secretary around my last name and the wildly popular smiling face seen on everything from bumper stickers to T-shirts: “Have a good day! Vote for Joan Bay!”

We made posters and paper smiling faces for supporters to pin onto their clothing. We made jitter-filled speeches in front of all the kids in the school. And when it was all finished I was writing minutes and Tedi remained the best friend a girl could ever have.

The next year I ran for vice-president and enough kids rallied to the theme, “Ole! Ole! Vote for Joan Bay!” for me to win my second campaign. The presidential spot was filled by an older kid with a slogan I’ll never forget: “Don’t be a dope! Vote for Klope!” Years later the brother to the candidate would ask me to marry him and I’d tell him that not accepting his proposal would certainly make me one big dope. That was more than 20 years ago now and I have never regretted the decision.

In 1970 I ended my successful string of small electoral wins with the theme, “Good heavenly day! Vote for Joan Bay!” As always I had my faithful friend Tedi right there to lend her support and her talented mother to help design and paint the posters. I ran across one of the posters the other day, tucked in with other school papers from my event-filled sixth grade year. Today it warms my heart in a deep way as a 40-something mother when I think about the time and care they gave to me as a young girl. They were indeed, heaven sent.

I thought of these childhood dips into politics this week as I listened to political reporters wonder aloud about possible presidential candidates who will begin their campaigns in earnest one year from this week. I have also considered my sweet childhood memories as I work to educate friends and neighbors about issues and levies they will be asked to vote on in early March. For the most part I am amazed at the way people carefully think through issues and develop opinions based on their own experiences and values. It is unifying, even when we do not agree on particular issues.

But as much fun as I had during my minor brushes with the election process, I am greatly relieved that I can lay aside all politicking when it comes to my relationship with God. I do not have to — and frankly, cannot — campaign for God’s favor. He asks me, instead, to take a good honest look at my heart and attitudes and make decisions about how I might incorporate Him into the various aspects of our lives.

There are a number of questions we might ask ourselves this week: Do we acknowledge that we need and want God in our lives? Have we asked Him to be a part of each and every day, each and every decision, in each and every way? What do we know about the claims of Christ and do we accept those claims?

Are we striving and crusading to look good or do our lives reflect a personal, growing relationship with the living God? Can we detect His voice and His will? Do we know Him well enough to tell someone in need of some eternal truths?

Next week let’s begin to talk about how to detect the will of God. This week, let’s thank Him for the gift of love that comes without the posters and the jingles.

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