My bit at the polls
Fear of man is no reason to pass on God’s adventures
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On May 18 I worked the polls for candidates who didn’t have a snowball’s chance in July of winning. Pavement-pounding politics is not my bag, but a neighbor recommended me to Myron, a good man who keeps running for school board and keeps experiencing the snowball-in-July effect.
I agreed to stand in front of Glenside Memorial Hall and hand out sample ballots because Myron had asked months ahead, and agreeing to a good deed months ahead always confers warm, self-affirming feelings while also being distant enough to confer an air of unreality.
I arrived before 7 a.m., when the world was fresh and new and all. It is good to be the first person to arrive at a place that intimidates you. You are able to see the venue in all its lonely desolation and to remember that one day it will return to lonely desolation, once every strident voice has fallen silent, and any boneheaded thing I do there will shrink to a drop in the ocean of the human drama.
OK, maybe I was overreacting. But soon she showed up, the woman who would be working on opposite sides from me. She (wife of our many-termed local representative) was pleasant enough, but it was clear who held court. She came with the folding card table, folding chair, armfuls of literature. And all the lawn signs sprawled on the horseshoe-shaped driveway were hers. I had a mere dozen sample ballots to distribute over five hours, so low were the expectations in our camp.
Truth be told, I feared people’s faces—the way they change from friendly to unfriendly when at first you approach and they expect you to be on their side and then they learn you’re not. I don’t like being disliked, but even worse than being disliked is being liked for five seconds, then disliked. God knows the fear of rejection in people’s faces because he addresses it with Ezekiel: “Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces. … Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks” (Ezekiel 3:8-9).
Again, I overreact. For as the Lord also said, “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5). Any rejection I encounter today will be literally from “men on foot.” If I faint now, what will I do when real persecution comes?
On the previous four occasions of my glorified doorman job, our team had had an abysmal showing. I am happy to report that this improved today from abysmal to merely miserable. Moreover, the invective I expected was somewhat tamped down—unless I have developed antibodies to it unawares in those former gigs.
By 9 o’clock I had shed the coat. By 10:30 I had shed the hoodie. I was feeling comfortable all over. I even met a few kindred spirits, whom I would not have if I hadn’t manned my post and who seemed as happy to know me as I was them. I met a Messianic Jew of like-minded affiliation. I met an escapee from San Francisco who nearly hugged me.
If you have ever stood in the same place for a long time, you will understand what I mean when I say that after several hours in one spot all fear and inhibition fly away, like the time my brother and I were stranded at the same highway exit from Paris for six hours before a car finally picked us up. I now felt as at home as the lady with the card table, because I also remembered what Paul said our attitude should be in this land of exile:
“For all things are yours, whether … the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
The Messianic Jew encounter will be continued. For with God one adventure always leads to another.
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