Consider Frank Tanabe and vote

Frank Tanabe has become an internet sensation – and he should be!  Mr. Tanabe, a decorated World War II veteran, made news at the age of 93 – because he wanted to stay alive long enough to cast his vote in this year’s election.  He was a young man when his family lost all they had worked for and were placed in an internment camp, simply because they were of Japanese descent.  Frank was in that camp when he signed enlistment papers and entered the war.  He spoke fluent Japanese and English and was used as an interrogator in the war.  He was diagnosed with liver cancer and fought a different kind of war for the last months of his life.  He exercised in his bed, trying to stay alive long enough for his ballot to arrive in the mail.  One of the last things Frank Tanabe did before his death, was vote.  He had never missed voting in an election and he didn’t miss this year’s either.  Technically, because he died before the election date, his vote isn’t supposed to count…but the news that surrounds this story means his vote counts more than he could ever have imagined.  I am going to think about Mr. Tanabe when I head out to vote.  More than any other election in my lifetime, I feel that my vote matters.  So does yours.

Frank Tanabe (center) votes via absentee ballot with the help of his daughter, Barbara (left) and wife, Setsuko (foreground), in Honolulu on Oct. 17. He died the following week (Credit: Irene Tanabe)This election appears to be a nail-biter.  It is hard to say who is going to win.  But the sobering thought is, no matter who wins, half of our nation will agree and half will disagree with the decision.  Blue, red, or undecided – your vote counts and your opinion matters.  Christian or non-Christian, your demeanor and words matter as well.  Our country is divided, and much of the division is a result of differing values.  We will have named a president in a week – but we will also show the world a very ununited United States.  What are God’s answers to division and differing values?

2 Chronicles 30:12 –  “Also in Judah, the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of God.”  When God is present and at work among people, his hand of power provides unity.  But God is present and at work when those “kings” have issued orders that follow his word.

Romans 15:4-6 – “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves, as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Our “hope” is not in an elected official, as important as that person is.  Our hope is in the God of the universe who will be sovereign regardless of the man in an oval office.  Our unity is not going to be found in the president we choose to follow.  Unity will be found as we collectively follow Jesus Christ.  And our calling is not so much to influence an election and call attention to a candidate – it is to make certain that our hearts and our mouths glorify God, the father of our Lord Jesus. 

I want my candidate to win next week.  I think this election is incredibly significant.  I will remember Frank Tanabe who stayed alive because he thought voting was that important. I will vote my convictions – but then I pray that my convictions will show the world who is truly the sovereign power in this world.  To close, think on these words by George MacDonald this week.  He said, “Division has done more to hide Christ from the view of men than all the infidelity that has ever been spoken.”  May all of us register our vote and then, in unity, give glory to the God of the universe, forever sovereign over the affairs of this world.

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