Yesterday in Atlanta, Herman Cain told the YRNF Fall Meeting that God called him to run for President:
“I prayed and prayed and prayed. I am a man of faith,” Cain told the Young Republican National Federation at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. “I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I have ever done before in my life. And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses: ‘You have got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’ … Once I made the decision, I did not look back.”
“One of the misperceptions that some people have — I know you all don’t have this misperception — is that I am not in this to win it. I am in this to win it!” said Cain, a member of Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta. “I am not going anywhere!”
My Disciple class has been reading Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings the last couple weeks so I understand that we have a tradition of leaders being called by God, but so far the Old Testament hasn’t addressed whether he calls multiple candidates or whether a calling is an assurance of victory. And therein lies the problem.
Well, every decision that I make I pray about as does my husband and I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do and because it’s such a momentous decision, not only for myself, my husband and our 28 children, it is a momentous decision what ideas will I bring to bear?
Anita Perry, saying that her husband, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was called by God to run also noted that some of the other candidate “may feel like God called them too.”
According to Karen Santorum, Rick Santorum’s wife, he, too, was called. “It really boils down to God’s will,” she said. “We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants.”
It is correct to say that Reagan felt called by God. But Reagan’s thinking was always more complicated than that. Ronald Reagan spoke constantly, throughout his career, of what he and his close friend and colleague Bill Clark (who had been with Reagan since the California gubernatorial years) called “the DP”—i.e., the Divine Plan. Reagan prayed to discern God’s will, but he knew that discernment is a tricky business. He was happy to place his life and career in “God’s hands,” not knowing where precisely, and when, that would lead him. To cite just one example of many, Reagan felt a call of some sort in 1976, but lost his presidential bid that year. When he lost, he told his family and friends that the loss must have been God’s will.
Reagan felt that only in retrospect could one (better) detect God’s intent. He learned this as a boy from his mother. It never left him.
“God had another plan,” Reagan later put it. That plan, that divinely laid “fork in the road” that his mother always talked about, apparently included winning the presidency in November 1980, getting shot in March 1981, taking on the Evil Empire, standing at the Berlin Wall, meeting with Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II and Thatcher and Walesa, and on and on.
I don’t doubt that God guides us in our daily lives if we seek guidance; I do sometimes wonder how specific that guidance is. In any case, God has not yet called me to support any of the candidates, whatever message he has given them.