I remember when we took our daughters to the amusement park.
They begged me to ride the roller coaster.
I resisted their entreaties. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it – in fact I suspected it might be a rather unpleasant experience. I didn’t like the prospect of sudden jolts – or steep climbs or speeding descents.
Finally, I relented.
As I was sitting in the small seat, the steel bar shut tight. Then the roller coaster started slowly moving down the narrow track. I had this sudden feeling of panicked regret. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea.
What would this ride be like – really?
Too late – I was on and locked in.
I had a similar sudden apprehension at around 2:30 Wednesday morning when I first saw the words flash across the television screen – words I never once expected to ever see – “President-elect Donald Trump”.
A nation divided by the most contentious presidential campaign in our lifetime was suddenly united by shock.
The watching world was stunned.
I had gone to the polls and bought my ticket on the Trump Train – with some serious misgivings. I was forced into it by my convictions, and even more serious reservations about the other candidate.
As I settled in to watch the returns of an election I’d followed closely, there was nothing that told me this would be anything other than a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton.
I was not alone.
While some predicted an upset, I’d seen too many elections to think tonight would be one. Trump might run closer than expected – that’s the best anyone could hope for.
Voters could at least send a message.
I don’t think Donald Trump thought he would win – though he put on the requisite brave face in the closing days. He predicted a big surprise, said he’d sweep the industrial Midwest, spoke of a massive movement of voters who would rise up and elect him.
It had crossed my mind that maybe there were enough angry voters out there willing to take a chance on Trump. This might be the year. But it would be the “miracle” a Trump aide said they needed.
The media elite and pollsters were unambiguously unanimous. It wasn’t going to happen.
Then it did.
Slowly, through the evening, Donald Trump held onto his early lead – in popular votes and, more critically, in the Electoral College.
The big states were close – Florida, North Carolina, Ohio. But he carried them all. Then Trump grabbed a lead in states that should have been hers – Wisconsin, Michigan, even Democratic Pennsylvania.
The blue collar revolt was in full angry swing. Donald Trump was the chosen instrument of its wrath – delivered upon an arrogant and unresponsive Washington establishment in both parties.
And so it was that you and I witnessed extraordinary history this week.
Donald J. Trump is as unlikely a president as we’ve ever elected. His victory is the biggest upset since Truman beat Dewey in 1948. Culturally, it’s a much bigger upset – it’s an earthquake.
Our country’s never seen anything like this.
Donald Trump is the first person to enter the White House with neither political nor military experience. The Ship of State sails into uncharted waters. The most erudite experts are of no help. They’ve already been totally wrong and blindsided.
Nobody had seriously pondered this because nobody took it seriously. President Trump? Seriously?
Now we all must. And we’d be naïve not to be a bit concerned.
We tend to be polarized in our reaction to a new president. It’s either the end of the world or the beginning of utopia. Neither is true of course.
Upon assuming the presidency, a young and untried JFK said he was surprised to discover that things were as bad as he had alleged during the campaign. “In the final analysis,” he later observed, “it’s easier to make the speeches than it is to make the judgments”.
It’s easier to promise than to perform; to campaign and market than to govern and lead.
Perhaps that’s why Donald Trump was uncharacteristically subdued when he went to Washington this week. He’s now getting the daily security briefings. Soon he’ll know how tough this job is.
President-elect Trump needs our prayers. May God grant him wisdom, compassion, humility, courage, and integrity. May this new and entirely unorthodox leader – who will be sure to lead in unorthodox ways – help to heal the deep divisions and unite our nation.
That won’t be easy.
President Trump’s going to make mistakes and we are sometimes going to disagree with him. He will disappoint. Leaders do that. May God help us to be hopefully realistic and prayerfully patient.
This is going to be quite a roller-coaster ride.
God knows the end from the beginning. He knows every moment of the next four years.
“Be still, and know that I am God,” he reminds us. “I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10, NLT).
God is our trust. May our new president look to Him.
So hang on! We take this uncertain ride together. There will be steep climbs, sharp turns and speeding descents. Whatever happens, it won’t be boring.
“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46:11, KJV).