Help Me to Love Here and Long for There (My Prayer on Election Day)

As followers of Jesus we live in a holy paradox of loving the place where we live (the city, state, country, etc.) and longing for the day when Christ will return and graciously give us our eternal inheritance. We are to love where the Lord has placed us, serve the people we live among, and be ambassadors of His grace and truth. At the same time, here is not our eternal home. Our citizenship is ultimately in heaven and we eagerly long for our Savior from there – King Jesus who will transform us and make everything right and new.

If we focus our eyes on Jesus, we will find that He causes our hearts to simultaneously love here and long for there. But an election cycle and the results of an election can disrupt our gaze. An election cycle can, if we do not guard our hearts, disrupt where we place our hope. An election cycle and the results of an election can discourage us from holding tightly to both loving here and longing for there. Out of frustration with here, we can easily drift from loving where the Lord has placed us. Or out of a passion for here, our longing for there can wane.

The results of an election should not change our love for the cities where we live or our longing for the City where we will spend eternity. In Scripture we see we are to love where the Lord has placed us, yet we are to not to place our hope in that temporary city because earthly kingdoms will not endure.

Loving Here (This City)

When God’s people were wrestling with how to live in a city where the cultural values were so different than their own values, the Lord sent this word to His people:

This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves, and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

They were captured and deported from their homeland to Babylon. They did not vote for the leaders of Babylon. The values of the Babylonians did not match their values. Everything was disrupted and they surely did not feel at home. Yet God reminds his people that He is the One who brought them here, and they are to “pursue the well-being of the city” while simultaneously growing as a people. They were to pray for the city that they did not deeply identify with.

We have an incredible privilege to elect leaders here, in the place where we temporarily live. Many Christians around the world aren’t able to enjoy that blessing. We should steward that blessing well. And no matter what happens on election day politically, as believers we are to love the places the Lord has carried us. We are to pray for our cities, communities, states, and country. We are to serve the people around us and seek the peace of the places we live.

Longing for There (That City)

While we are to love here, we must not long for here. For us, there is no Lord but our God. Our ultimate loyalty is to another King and another Kingdom. We are “just passing through,” and we must not live as if this world is our home. The writer of Hebrews reminds us:

For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come. (Hebrews 13:15)

Longing for the eternal city does not cause us to love our country or our cities less. To the contrary, the more we focus on Christ and His eternal city, the better we represent Him here and serve people now. C.S. Lewis quipped, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Our cities here will not endure, but our eternal city will. In that city all wrongs will be made right, the curse will be reversed, and all our sorrows will be gone. In that city, there will be no more divisions. In that city, there will be no more injustices and no more pain. In that city, we will joyfully bow to our perfect King, the one who graciously gave us our eternal home. We will see Jesus and we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. When things feel shaken here, we can remind ourselves that our King’s kingdom will never be shaken.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:128).

My prayer on election day: We have lived through and are living through a tense election cycle. The pull to stop loving here or to stop longing for there can be strong. Lord, guard our hearts. Repair our hearts. Lord, help me to love here well, in your name and for your fame. But, Lord, help me not to long for here, but to long for there – the eternal city where I will enjoy you forever.