- This was the same man who came within a hair's breadth of losing an election
in November, who withstood the political chicanery of the Florida Democratic
machine to fix the vote count.
- This was the same man who admitted to having a
drinking problem in younger years, and whose happy-go-lucky lifestyle led him
to mediocre grades in college and an ill-fated oil venture.
- This was the same
man who mangled syntax even more than his father, and whose speaking missteps
became known as "Bushisms."
- And on Friday September 14, 2001, this was the
man who bore the weight of the world and the responsibilities of a generation
with dignity, class, confidence, appropriate solemnity, and even much needed
One thing struck me during the campaign, that difficult, roller coaster
campaign that now seems years ago. It was that George W. Bush never seemed to
get ruffled. Whether the theft of a campaign debate video or the sudden (some
would say, vicious) release of a DUI arrest two decades ago at a key moment,
"W" did not lose his cool.
At times, his staff seemed overconfident, as did many of us. A 350-electoral-vote win, they quietly implied . . . and we
optimistically believed. Then they counted the votes, miscounted others, and
recounted still others. At the end, he was still there. Whereas Al Gore
almost frantically huffed and puffed, trying to gin up something out of
nothing, Bush quietly but confidently waited at his ranch. He didn't do
anything: that is the mistake people have constantly made with this man,
confusing lack of bluster for absence of action. No, his team of attorneys
and the iron willed James Baker were carrying out his orders, but W stayed in
the background, confident and faithful. You see, it is this faith business
that confounded everyone.
We have had such actors and liars in public office that we have looked
skeptically whenever anyone used the term faith. But this was the same man
who was the first politician ever in recent memory to name Jesus Christ as
the lord of his life on public TV. Not an oblique reference to being
"born-again" or having a "life change." He said the un-PC-like phrase, "Jesus
Christ," to which his handlers and advisors, no doubt, off stage, were also
saying, "Jesus Christ" in a much different tone.
God has a way of honoring those who honor Him. David learned that while he
was on the run from Saul's armies. Job learned that after his time of
horrible tribulation. The Messiah said so Himself, many times. So this was
the man who actually puts faith into practice. He actually loves those who
hate him. It is a staggering concept, so foreign in daily occurrence that few
thought it anything but grandstanding. Even one of W's biggest supporters
chided the President for adhering to his "new tone." Yet there he was, again and again, thanking the Democrats. Appointing
his enemies to high places in his government. Inviting his former foes and
their wives to private movie screenings, and (I know, this is hard to
stomach) even treating them with dignity.
See, this was the man who learned early on how faith worked: by praying for
his enemies, you "heap burning coals upon their heads." This was the man who
named the absolute top people in national security and defense, then caught
barbs from the politically righteous that this one didn't have the right
views on abortion or that one didn't have the right position on guns.
And on September 11, at midmorning, this was the man thrust into a position
only known by Roosevelt, Churchill, Lincoln, and Washington. The weight of
the world was on his shoulders, and the responsibility of a generation was on
his soul. So this same man ---the one that the media repeatedly attempted to
tarnish with charges of "illegitimacy," and the one whose political opponents
desperately sought to stonewall until midterm elections--- walked to his seat
at the front of the National Cathedral just three days after the two most impressive symbols of American
capitalism and prosperity virtually evaporated, along with, perhaps,
thousands of Americans.
As he sat down next to his wife, immediately I knew that even if his faith
ever faltered, hers didn't. I have never seen a more peaceful face than Laura
Bush, whose eyes seemed as though they were already gazing at the final
outcome . . . not just of this conflict, but of her reward in Heaven itself.
In this marriage, you indeed got two for the price of one.
Then came the defining moment of our generation. Some people fondly recall
their Woodstock days. Others mark with grim sadness November 22, 1963, as the
day America lost her innocence. But I firmly believe when the history of this
time is written, it will be acknowledged by friend and foe alike that
President George W. Bush came of age in that cathedral and lifted a nation
off its knees. It wasn't so much his words, though read a decade later, they
will indeed be as stirring as any. This conflict would end, he noted, ". . .
at a time of our choosing." It certainly wasn't his emotion. What had to
have been one of the most stunning exhibitions of self-control in
presidential history, W was able to deliver his remarks without losing either
his resolve or his focus, or, more important, his confidence. It was as if
God's hand, which had guided him through that sliver-thin election, now
rested fully on him.
His quiet confidence let our enemies know . . . and believe me, they know. .
. that they made a grave miscalculation. Now, this same man who practiced his
faith through a tough election, who steeled his convictions even more in a
drawn-out Florida battle, and who never once gave in to the temptation to get
in the gutter with his foes (well, ok, maybe the "Clymer" comment is an
exception), this same man now lifted the weight of the world and the
responsibility of a generation and put it on his modest shoulders as though it were another unpleasant duty.
As he walked back to his seat, the camera angle was appropriate. He was
virtually alone in the scene, alone in that massive place of God, just him
and the Lord. But that's the way it's always been in his life recently. In
that brief time it took him to return to his seat, I believe he heard words
to the effect of, "You can do this, George. I am with you always. And you can
do this well, because I am going before you. And don't worry about the
weight. I've got it." And I saw in his eyes a quiet acknowledgment. "I know.
Thank you, Lord."
Back at his seat, when W sat down, George H. W. Bush reached over and took
his son's hand. The elder Bush always struck me as a religious man, but not
someone who shared his life on a daily basis with the Lord. George H. W.
treats the Father like a respected uncle, visiting Him on appropriate
holidays and knowing the relationship is real, but not constant.
Anyway, I believe that in that fatherly squeeze George H. W. said, "I wish I
could do this for you, son, but I can't. You have to do this on your own." W
squeezed back and gave him that look of peace that Laura had kept throughout.
It said, "I don't have to do it alone, dad. I've got help."
What a blessing to have a professing Christian as President - one who is not
ashamed to admit it! Please take a moment after you read this to pray for
him - he truly does have the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Pray that God will sustain him and give him wisdom and discernment in his decisions.
Make no mistake about it - the decisions he makes in the coming days, weeks
and months will literally define the future of our country and the free
world. Pray for his protection and that of his family.
After you have prayed, send this to everyone on your e-mail list. Our
President needs Christians around the world to be praying for him. As this
makes the e-mail rounds, eventually there could literally be millions of
people praying for him 24/7!! He needs it .