In the year 2076, after a long and happy life, I died peacefully in my sleep. This is the conversation that took place.
“Welcome, my son,” a voice said.
I blinked into the light. It was a brilliant white. My arm instinctively rose to shield my eyes. I squinted under my forearm as a majestic being materialized before me.
“Hello?” I croaked. “Are…Are you…God?”
As I finished my question, the light seemed to dissipate and the form became more clear. It was a man with a beard and flowing robes. Like a hipster on graduation day.
“I am,” He said. “Welcome to heaven.”
I was at a loss for words. I had always believed I would go to heaven, but was completely caught off guard when the day finally came. “It’s so warm here,” I said stupidly.
“You people…always talking about the weather. That’s why I made it, you know. So people would have a way to start conversations.”
“Well thank God you did. I mean…thank…you for doing that.”
God laughed and we began with the small talk. His friendly disposition put me at ease. He invited me to sit, and I did. It was like sitting on a park bench on the first day of spring. But softer. I looked down to see if I was sitting on a cloud, but no. It was Durablend.
Heaven looked like a typical sunny day, but with a halo of light radiating from everthing. Like viewing the world through the Toaster filter on Instagram.
It was paradise orientation. He delivered the dos and don’ts. My room was one of many, He said, but it was prepared for me. Worship started at 6 a.m. No weeping. No gnashing of teeth.
“You’ll learn the rest as you go,” He said finally. “Do you have any questions for me?”
I felt unprepared, and slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t come with any questions. I hedged.
“I’ve kept you long enough,” I said, trying to avoid eye contact.
“This is usually when people ask about life’s great mysteries. Why do bad things happen to good people…what color was the dress…that sort of thing.”
As a man of faith, I felt like I had a good handle on those answers. And even if I didn’t, I was certain the others in the Heavenly realm would be willing to share what they had learned. One question, however, had occurred to me. One that had nagged me for decades. But I was too timid to ask.
“Really, I don’t want to impose. I’m sure you are busy,” I shifted toward the edge of my seat, hoping He would dismiss me.
“There has to be something,” he said.
“OK…but if you don’t want to answer…”
“What is it?”
“That election…in 2016?”
The Lord laughed. It was a mighty guffaw that no doubt rumbled through the fields of Indiana in the form of thunder.
“What’s so funny,” I asked.
“It’s been awhile since anyone has asked about that.”
“I’m not the first?”
“Heavens no,” He said. “It was a top FAQ there for awhile, but that was years ago. I kind of forgot about it to tell you the truth.”
“Well, I couldn’t really forget it. The Indiana elections were crazy enough. The Holcomb-Ellspermann switcheroo…the Todd Young ballot challenge…Tennessee Trey…Bernie Sanders with a really improbable run…you know, I used to write a blog about politics back then.”
“Real. Crazy. Election,” Yahweh said with a wink.
“Ahh! The Wrangler Rule! Talk about a blast from the past! I can’t believe you read that.”
“You know, that’s the same thing Solomon said when I quoted Song of Songs back to him. I’m a voracious reader, you know. Hey, did you ever notice no one uses ‘voracious’ to describe anything except reading? No one is like, ‘He’s a voracious yodeler.’ But I’m sorry…back to your thing.”
“So as if that wasn’t enough craziness for one cycle, on top of all that, there was Trump. Donald J. Trump and everything that his candidacy wrought. There was Jeb and Little Marco and Ben Carson and riots and collusion and hand size and the Zodiac and Ted Cruz picking a running mate in April. I mean, it was unreal. Trump made things weirder every single day.”
“Is there a question in there somewhere?”
“Yeah, like, what the hell?”
The frustration welled up inside of me and burst through. That election had been more than 60 years ago. The Union survived. Trump faded. It sure left it’s mark on political history, but now it’s just a curiosity to the younger generations. Still, when I thought about it all those years later sitting in the presence of the Almighty, it made me mad.
God let the question hang in the air, like a chad from a Dade County ballot. He didn’t seem to be thinking about the answer, but rather replaying the scene in his mind. Looking back on something he set into motion, but wasn’t intimately involved in.
“You know, in the Old Testament, my chosen people demanded a king.” God paused to scratch behind his ear. I think it was for dramatic effect. “They had a government. A good government. One I created. You know? Mt. Sanai, stone tablets, Charlton Heston. But they wanted a king like all the other countries had.”
“And you let them have it,” I said, almost accusingly.
“Yeah, I let them have it! Free will and all. But it was a total disaster. I mean, you had David…and Solomon kinda. But there’s a reason nobody’s naming their kids ‘Jahoiakim’ these days.” I nodded my agreement.
“You know what causes seasons like that,” he asked rhetorically. “Time. Time is an oscillating fan, and it has to hit an extreme before it works its way back to the center. Live long enough, and you’ll have those weird elections. Those terrible kings. I’m not up here puppeteering things. They just happen.”
We sat in silence for a moment. I weighed his words, unsure of what to do with this new information. It wasn’t really the answer I was looking for, yet somehow I felt peace within me.
He broke the silence. “But you know what I did?”
“Back when Isreal demanded a king. Do you know what I did?”
“I…” God started laughing as He told the story. “I had prophets pour oil on a new king’s head.”
“Is that like a prank or something?”
“Yes! It was ostensibly ceremonial, but I just wanted to make a mess. You know how hard it was to get oil out of your hair pre-Prell? Bahahahaha!”
God and I laughed together, there on the heavenly park bench made with leather substitute. I could have stayed there for eternity, but God had business to attend, and I had five people to meet. We shook hands and went our separate ways.
“Oh hey, God,” I hollered. When I turned around, His face was already looking back toward me in love. “When a politician says he’ll ‘prayerfully consider’ whether to run for something…”
“Yeah, he’s just going to do whatever he wants.”
“Thanks, God. That’s what I thought.”