Pray

I’m really not a very politically minded person.  Maybe I should be, but I’m not.  It’s only fairly recently that I started voting every election.  I used to just vote along party lines, which for me tended to be conservative, or Republican.  But now, considering the state the country and the economy are in, I think I would vote for whoever had the best answers. 

This year–a presidential election year– we have Senators Obama and McCain in the race. 

Change you Can Believe In.

Straight Talk.

Which to choose?

A friend I was talking with once referred to Obama as a “hollow” man.  I really think she’s right.  He speaks platitudes.  He makes reference to CHANGE, but does not (that I’ve heard) specifically define it.    What does he really plan to do?  I don’t know.  All I hear is how change is needed.  How we can’t afford four more years of Bush in the White House.  His campaign seems to mostly center on telling people what he thinks they want to hear about the war in Iraq, about the economy, and about CHANGE.

But what is he going to do?  I don’t know.  I don’t have the discerment that some people do, but when I think about Obama as President, I get a feeling of unease–almost dread in the pit of my stomach.  It isn’t just his empty speeches filled with empty words.  It’s a lot of things.  To me, he almost seems anti-American at times.  Removing the flag from his airplane.  Standing at indifferent ease during flag-raisings and pledges of allegiance.  There are several things like that, and feel free to look them up on the net if you want to. 

Is McCain the perfect candidate?  Of course not. No one is perfect.  But I believe he is the best candidate this election, and I will vote for him.  I respect his service and sacrifice to his country.  I respecte his experience.  I agree with almost everything he has to say.  Will he follow through on all of it?  I don’t know. Maybe he won’t.

But he is specific about his plans.  Or at least, not as vague as the Senator from Michigan (or wherver the heck he’s from).

One problem I see in Obama telling people what they want to hear is that it seems to be working.  He is the “it” person, or candidate, for the entertainment industry right now, in all its liberal glory.  He has Hollywood on his side, and worse yet, has Oprah lobbying for him.

Oprah, for heaven’s sake.

And it seems to be working.

I hate the thought that it seems he has a very real chance of winning, based on that alone, not on experience, not on issues, but on popularity, and the endorsement of the Hollywood elite.

I hate it.

When I expressed this sentiment to my friend, she said “Are you praying about it?”

I was speechless.  I hadn’t been, or at least not to the extent that I should have been.

I used to rationalize not voting by thinking that my vote didn’t count.  It’s just one vote, I thought.

It doesn’t matter.

But what if everyone thought that?  What if all the people that could have made a difference in this or any election thought their vote didn’t count, and did not vote because of it?

Now, I vote.

So my other thought is that, what difference would my prayers make in regard to the whole country?  How are the prayers of one man in San Diego going to impact the country for the next four years?

The answer is that they won’t, if I never pray them.  What if everyone who could have made a difference by praying did not pray because they thought their prayers would not matter?

Now, I will pray.  Look at what James has to say about it:

“…the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective…” James 5:16.

Jesus’ brother.

I will pray.

I will pray that God’s will is done in regard to this election, above all other things.

I will pray for wisdom for myself, in regard to my vote.

I will pray for wisdom for the American people in regard to theirs.

I will pray that blinders are lifted from eyes in regard to Senator Obama, and that truth will be revealed in hearts. 

I will pray that Senator Obama encounters Jesus somewhere along the road to Damascus (or Pennsylvania avenue, if that’s God’s will).

I will pray.

Let me just leave you with the words of one of America’s greatest minds.  MC Hammer.

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Hollow

I used to feel like part of me was missing. I could pretend to be a complete person all I wanted. I could walk around like everyone else. I could work, I could go to the mall, or to the movies. I could go to church.  I could do whatever I wanted.

But something was missing.

I felt like an imposter.

Like I was pretending.  I looked like I felt OK, and I usually said the right things, and to anyone that wasn’t inside my mind, things would seem

                                          just perfect.

But during these times, it felt like I was yearning for something, and I didn’t know what.

                    Like I was searching, and not finding. 

                          Like having an endless thirst, and not being able to slake it.

It was like there was a hole, right through the center of me. I could almost feel wind whistling through it. It was cold, and it was painful, and it seemed there was nothing I could do about it.

Except try to fill it.

And nothing fit.

Nothing fit because this hole was not shaped like anything on earth.

It was shaped like Jesus.

I believe now we were all made with this emptiness, with this hollow place in our centers. A place designed by our maker to be filled–with light, and love, and completeness. You can stuff it with anything you like. Some things will even work for a time, but eventually, they will begin to come loose around the edges, and things will begin to stream in again, and eventually, what you have stuffed into the hole will come flying out, and there will be the emptiness again.

Because only one thing will fit there, and stay.

My tendency has always been to try and fill the emptiness with things other than what was designed to fit there–things other than Jesus. For a time, it was food. That worked best of all, so far. It made me feel better to just pig out. Later, it would be the same with alcohol. Binging was fun, and easy, and when I did it, I didn’t have to think about anything, and it was great.

Except when it wasn’t. When the party was over, or the meal was over, and I was left with myself, I was not happy at all. The truth is, I was disgusted with the “wonder” of me. And what I had tried to fill my emptiness with was gone.  The food, the fermented malt beverages, the empty relationships

                       all gone.

And I was empty again.

Maybe it isn’t those things for you.  Maybe it’s something else-like drugs, or sex, or pornography.  Maybe it’s video games, or maybe you adopt a lot of cats.

And none of those things work.  You still feel hollow.  Not all of the time, but when you really sit down, or when you lay down at night, or when you ask yourself if you’re really happy, or really feel complete, the answer is almost always no.

Something is missing.

I was hollow for 32 years.  I spent my life trying various things to fill my emptiness.  I nearly ate myself to death, literally.

And it didn’t work.

I became not an everyday drinker, but a serious binge drinker.  I would pound beers until I was sick, and the result was always the same.

It didn’t work.  After the buzz was gone, and the sickness was gone, and the hangover was gone, I still felt hollow.

And then I discovered that sometimes empty relationships felt a lot like love, or what I imagined love would feel like.  But when the person was gone, and I had to think once again about my life, I had to admit that it wouldn’t have worked if I had a new person in my life every weekend.

And I was still hollow.

And then there came a day where I absolutely couldn’t do it anymore.  I was on a trip with my friends to see a baseball game, and our intention was to eat as much bad food as we could, and drink as much beer as our stomachs could handle.

Instead, God spoke to me on the first night of the trip, before we even got to Peoria.  I remember standing on the dock leading down to the river, holding a beer cooler in each hand, and just feeling overwhelmed with so many different feelings, and memories.  I remember thinking that I could no longer fill the emptiness through my center, that I never had been able to.

I did not even want to try anymore.

So for the first time in my life, kneeling on the rough wood of the dock, I asked Jesus to fill that emptiness, because I was tired of being hollow.

And I was filled.

And it was good.

The difference between my life now, and my life then, is that now I have hope.  Now I have help.

I am not in it alone.

How can an entity I can neither see nor touch give me hope?

I can’t explain how, I only know that He does.  And it changed my life.  I am the same person as before, but I am also different. 

When I begin to feel like my old self, when I begin to feel hollow, now I can turn to Jesus.  Now I can reach out for His touch, and grasp the edge of his garment, and be healed.  I don’t have to reach out for food, or drink, or anything else, though that temptation will always be there.  Now, I don’t need to fill that emptiness with anything else, because it isn’t there anymore.

Jesus is.

I am no longer hollow.