We read in Daniel 2:21 that God “changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.” This of course happens all the time. Leaders come and go. This week we learned about two more examples of this happening – both here in Victoria. Two members of parliament lost their seats. One was the best news I heard in a long time. The other was the saddest news I heard in a long time.
I refer to Fiona Patten and Bernie Finn – politicians from the upper house. I have written about both often enough over the years. Patten lost her seat after serving two terms – eight years – in parliament. Bernie lost his seat after serving four terms – 16 years – there. And prior to that, he had served in the lower house for eight years. So he has been around for a while.
To the one, we say ‘Good riddance,’ while to the other we say, ‘What a shame.’ Let me discuss both a bit more, and then move on to some bigger themes that we must not forget. As to Fiona, she of course is the former sex worker and head of the sex industry who formed the Sex Party. I kid you not.
Later the name was changed to the Reason Party. Yeah right. But it still boggles my mind that Victorians would vote – twice! – to elect a former hooker and someone whose party was all about sex and sleaze. Mind-boggling stuff. And while in office, she spent her whole time doing grubby deals with premier Dan Andrews.
They readily scratched each other’s back big time, and Victoria is much the worse for it. It seems every lousy and immoral thing you can think of this pair happily ran with. They managed to turn Victoria into the most godless and decadent state in all of Australia. So I for one am pleased as can be that she is gone (although there are now reports that she will keep working with Andrews one way or another!).
Bernie Finn, on the other hand, was one of the best politicians Victoria has seen in a very long time. He excelled in the three Fs: faith, family and freedom. And there was no greater advocate for the unborn than Bernie was – and is. After the diabolical abortion legislation of 2008 went through, he established the annual March for the Babies. Yet because he put life and liberty first, his own Liberal Party dumped him! See more on that here.
God is still calling the shots
When I read today on the social media that Bernie did not quite make it into the top five positions for his region (he came in sixth), I posted a quick comment under his announcement. I simply said: “Something bigger and better for you – in my prayers champ.”
And I believe that. This is not the last we will see of Bernie. He may well take a much-needed break, but I am sure we will see him back in action soon enough, doing even more for life and for family. As leader of the DLP, he has plenty of work cut out for him.
So we look forward to hearing more from this champion. And I do indeed encourage you all to keep praying for him. I know he covets such prayers. But he is not the only one who has had a radical career change. Politicians will always come and go. Some last longer than others. Some have a very short run.
And it is not just politicians of course. One version of the start of the verse from Daniel says this: “He changes times and periods of history.” History does change for all of us. You might be in a job for thirty years, only to be laid off suddenly. Sadly, a longstanding marriage might break down. You might lose a loved one or close friend. Things change all the time.
How God’s sovereignty and human choices fit together will never be fully understood this side of eternity. But they do. Both are fully affirmed in Scripture, even though it is all a bit of a mystery to us mere mortals. And along the way, learning to have faith and trust in God is vital. Often that is all we have to hang on to.
And we all know about how changes come along that leave us confused or even hurt. We might think a certain course of action was of God, only to find a door being closed in your face. As but one example, for a while there when I was back in America, I was pretty sure a gal I liked was part of God’s plan.
That did not end out going the way I thought or hoped it might. But that is a good thing. Had I married this American girl, instead of the Australian that I did eventually marry, I of course never would have made it down under. Things would have been quite a bit different in that case. Indeed, this article would never have been penned for starters if my first choice had worked out.
So things change, and we seldom see the whole picture of where God is taking us. We might be pretty sure of one path, only to find we are soon on another. But again, this is where faith and trust come in. If we knew all the details ahead of time, there would be little need for faith. But God gives us enough light for the next step. His word, we are told, is a light unto our path.
So Bernie has had a bit of a change in direction. I too cannot assume I will always be doing what I am now doing. Indeed, I regularly offer up this ministry to God. I tell him that if he wants this chapter in my life to close, and he wants me to do something else, I am willing. That is all any believer can do.
Now, to state that God is sovereign in this area – indeed, in all areas – does NOT mean humans have no role to play here. If God ordains the ends, he also ordains the means. He has decided that human beings are morally responsible and accountable for their actions. What we do counts and is significant. Yet God is also at work.
As such, Bernie did not just sit around, hoping to get reelected. He did his part: he worked like mad to seek to alert and woo voters in his area. Sure, he and others prayed a lot, but both were needed: a lot of human effort, and trust in God. So Bernie did all he could, and he left the results up to God.
All those who are Christians live and act the same way. Again, it is a mystery how our choices and God’s purposes cohere and combine. But they do. And as I often say, we should concentrate on our part, and let God concentrate on his part.
The old meme of a guy resting on his shovel, waiting for a hole in the ground to be dug, fits in here. He can pray all he likes, and trust God all he likes, but chances are real good there will be no hole unless he starts digging. This is true in politics and everywhere else.
And the theology on this would fill countless volumes in numerous very large libraries. But getting the last word theologically speaking is not my intention here. Instead, my intent is quite practical. Please keep praying for Bernie. I look forward to what God has for this great man. Onwards and upwards Bernie.
And pray also for Patten. I have often prayed for her, and folks like Andrews, that God would either improve them or remove them. Well, it looks like she has been removed – from office at least. I still pray she repents big time and becomes a Christian.
But this too is a cooperative effort: we pray, and God works. He has even decided to get things done – in part at least – by the prayers we pray. Mysterious stuff – but exciting stuff. So keep praying, saints. And keep working. There is plenty more that needs to be done until the Lord returns.