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Daily Encouragement - November 3

Jeremiah 32:17  NIV

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Acts 4:24  NIV

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. “I’ve got them here in my hands right now.” Woo Hoo!  I exclaimed loudly into the speaker of Doug’s cell phone, as we trundled down I-95S on Friday afternoon.  The drive home from Maine had been long and tricky, given the pouring rain and driving winds, but that didn’t seem to matter much anymore.  The express lanes south of D.C. were about to run out, and we could clearly see all 5 lanes piled up at a dead halt just to our right, but even that didn’t dim my delight.  Traffic delays earlier in the day and more of the same promised up ahead meant we’d  be getting home much later than expected, but I was still as happy as anybody in their right mind can hope to be...because the nice lady who answered the phone at the Craven County Board of Elections had just informed us that our absentee ballots had arrived.  Finally.  Yay!  Woo Hoo! Yippee! We’ve always been “I Voted!” people.  I can still remember the first election in which I was old enough to vote...and, if memory serves, I haven’t missed one since.  Not that I can take any credit for that:  I was raised to believe that voting is the right and the responsibility of every citizen in a democracy.  But this was the first time we’ve ever voted by absentee ballot.  Doug applied for our ballots online, and some weeks later, they appeared.  We filled out our ballots, witnessed them for each other, and mailed them well ahead of time - 3 weeks and 1 day ahead of Election Day, to be exact.  We signed up for Ballot Trax, just to be sure.  But 2 weeks into the wait, our ballots were still showing as “inbound”.  So we called the Craven County Board of Elections.  A very polite and helpful woman took the time to search their records, and then offered to check that day’s mail:  nothing.  She agreed with us that it shouldn’t have taken that long, and advised us to call late Friday afternoon; if they still hadn’t been received, we could go to an early voting location, sign an affidavit, and vote on Saturday.  I was beginning to feel as though we’d gone to a fair amount of effort for no good purpose, when I (thankfully) remembered all the folks who’ve given their lives over the last few centuries so that we might have the privilege of voting.  For me, it has not yet come to the shedding of blood, so I piped down and resolved to call Friday at 4.  Since I was driving, Doug did the calling.  Another kind and courteous lady checked their computer records; still not in.  We asked for detailed instructions on where to go and how to proceed on Saturday, which she provided.  I was about to ask her if the ballots from that day’s mail had been registered, when she offered to go and check. What seemed like a long time passed.  Then she came back on the line, and we heard the magic words, “I‘be got them here in my hands right now.“  Both of our ballots arrived in Friday’s mail; this morning we got the text from Ballot Trax, indicating that our ballots had been accepted.  That final, print record was a welcome sight; but for me, it was all over as soon as I heard the words, “I’ve got them here in my hands right now.”  Since that happy moment at 4:14pm Friday, I’ve been pondering my great elation at those words of confirmation coming from an unseen stranger. The relief I felt upon hearing her reassurance was remarkable:  I was willing to trust the goodwill and the honesty of a county employee whose name I’ll never know, whom I’ve never met (nor am I likely to), and whom I’ll never be able to thank personally.  All I heard was her voice: it sounded like the voice of a trustworthy person, so I believed her, and quit fretting about the whole thing right away.  Which is what I ought to be doing with regard to anything and everything else that causes me to fret...quit it. Release it. Right now.  As the Psalmist says, “Do not fret.  It only leads to evil. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37)  Why would I release all my absentee ballot worries instantly upon hearing the reassuring words of the nice stranger on the phone, and yet continue to fret about other matters over which I have limited to no control, when I have the far greater reassurance of the voice of our sovereign God?  A Lord whose name I know so well, whose grace I’ve met every day of my life, a Lord whom I can thank personally anytime I wish?  A God whose mighty power created the heavens and the earth, a sovereign Lord for whom nothing is too hard?  Wake up, little Susie, I thought to myself; remember that no matter what, you belong to the One who died for you and who now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.  It’s all in the capable hands of the Almighty, who will do a far better job with it than you ever could.  The anxieties, large and small, that annoy our minds and disturb our peace; the fears that clutch at our hearts about everything from the international scene to our own backyards; the worries we weave over the people and the possessions we call our own - it’s time to release them into the keeping of the Sovereign One who does all things well.  Something tells me that when we lift those petitions up to God in prayer, if we listen closely, we’ll hear the Voice saying:  “I’ve got them here in my hands right now.” He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in His hands; He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands; He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands; He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands; He’s got the whole world in His hands. Pastor Susan Pate Greenwood

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