We take it for granted. It is completely unremarkable, but so remarkable in the grand scheme of history. At noon on January 20 of the year following a presidential election, a man will stand before the nation and world and swear "that [he] will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of [his] ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." This happens whether it is raining or snowing, whether it is cold or warm.
As the soon to be president of the United States takes his oath, precisely at noon, an aide quietly and subtly moves a briefcase from the former president's chair to the new president's chair. It contains nuclear codes and state secrets. Early in the morning on that day, moving vans will have pulled up to the White House's south lawn. One will load the belongings of the Obama family. The other will unload the belongings of the Trump family.
One of my favorite anecdotes of presidential transitions came from Barbara Bush. She noted that as the Ford family walked the Nixons out to Marine One on the White House lawn, all the pictures were still Nixon family pictures. But walking back into the White House a few minutes later, it was as if the Ford family pictures had been there all along.
In the history of the world, peaceful transitions of power like this are not that common. In large parts of the world they still are uncommon. But here, as the Obama Administration leaves and the Trump Administration starts, there are not tanks in the street, martial law is not imposed and democracy still works.
There are protestors. I do not recall the right opposing Barack Obama's inauguration like the left is doing to Donald Trump. There are plans to actively try to disrupt his inauguration. That is an unfortunate side effect of people politicizing everything. They had their chance and they lost. But those protests will not stop the transition of power.
What comes after noon on Friday is a brave new world. It will be something we have never seen. The iPhone did not exist until well into George W. Bush's second term. Twitter did not take hold until Barack Obama came to power. Neither man used social media as personally as Donald Trump does. He says he will keep doing so, but one might hope he is a bit more presidential that he is today. One might hope.
The partisan bickering in Washington is only going to escalate. It is very clear based on the political left's reaction to the election that they thought their fabled arc of history could never bend against them. But it did. They are still working through the stages of grief and hurling the word "illegitimate" around about the incoming president and any potential new Supreme Court Justice. Whether they want to believe it or not, the actions of both the new president and that justice will be very real and affect us all.
Many conservatives opposed Barack Obama from the beginning to the end of his administration. But many of them, despite those disagreements, also kept him in their prayers. Scripture commands Christians to pray for their leaders. I hope those who oppose Donald Trump will pray for him and his family as well. I still have this nagging sense that Donald Trump is the proverbial dog that caught the car.
The presidency is no easy job. It will burden and age anyone who takes that oath. There is also something growing in the shadows. In "The Lord of the Rings," there was a shadow that crept slowly over the land. While people were distracted, they had forgotten about the menace that was there, hiding, but ever plotting.
George W. Bush never expected to be a wartime president. Perhaps Donald Trump will be spared. But I remain convinced that while we have been distracted, our enemies have not. With a world in upheaval, whether you supported President Trump or not, you should hope he has what it takes to meet the task at hand.