Lets Follow In The Footsteps Of Abraham Lincoln
by Shannon Hutchison
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Human freedom, achieving God-given purposes, and Love saving human hearts can all happen when perseverance triumphs over adversity. For example, because of Abraham Lincoln’s resilient, steadfastness to his purpose of becoming an U.S. president, he was able to help end the Civil War, free blacks from slavery, and presumably, create a more loving / less hateful society. Today, symbolic to this story of President Lincoln is the crisis of belief Christians have upon ending the “civil war” and “spiritual slavery” much of humanity has amongst itself. To enable the hopeless to experience true freedom found only in Love (Trinity), the saved must lovingly endure hardships as they surrender themselves to God’s perfect will.
“From time to time, life as a leader can look hopeless. To help you, consider a man who lived through this: Failed in business at age 31. Defeated for the legislature at 32. Again failed in business at 34. Sweetheart died at 35. Had a nervous background at 36. Defeated in election at 38. Defeated for Congress at 34. Defeated for Congress at 46. Defeated for Congress at 48. Defeated for Senate at 55. Defeated at Vice President at 56. Defeated for Senate at 58. Elected President at age 60. This man was Abraham Lincoln.” (Unknown source: these numbers are not ages of his life, but years in the 1800s.)
Chasing a dream in spite of overwhelming odds demands the sheer will not to give up, especially when there is no assurance it will be achieved. Exerting enormous time, energy, and resources toward that goal, can be totally excruciating, particularly after experiencing repeated failures, doubts, and hopelessness. However, as Dale Carnegie once said: “Most of the important things have been accomplished by people when there seemed no hope at all”. Lincoln had to persevere through enormous adversity to become an U.S. president, and then to later help end the Civil War and slavery of blacks. Human freedom resulted because of his courage and determination as his purpose and love for a better world saved individual hearts. Today, in this world, we like Abraham must also exhibit comparable kind of valor, as we together must chase a similar dream of freedom; that is, to end spiritual slavery and our civil war among man.
During the Civil War, Lincoln saw a chaotic nation, torn by differences involving slavery that fought and killed its own. In our day, I see both a civil war amongst man and also spiritual enslavement of spiritual slaves. Dysfunctional neighborhoods, families, and Christians, motivated by selfishness, hate, and wickedness, cannot get along, as their sinful natures injure one another, inciting stumbling blocks and “eye for eyes” – all because man forgot to love. Separated from God due to sin, spiritual slaves (the unsaved and wayward Christian, both controlled by spiritual slave owner Satan) are doomed to hell; have no intimacy with the Creator and thus discontented; have no living hope from adversity; and are terrorized by the consequences of their unsound decisions. Both the unsaved and wayward Christian wants to feel “whole” again, but don’t know where to turn. They hope their possessions, status, works, addictions, and interpersonal human relationships can save them; but they cannot: to experience true joy, we must abide in Christ, requiring obedience (John 15:9-11).
Abolitionist God wants to free humanity, but is unable if man remains wayward. According to Luke 6:49, someone disobedient to Christ’s teachings is like “a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins”. Because people don’t obey Christ’s love commands, floodwaters of hate today beat upon rocks (human beings) of houses (families, neighborhoods, societies, and world) with sufficient pressure to destroy what we call freedom. Floodwaters like rabid racism, discord, countless killings of the innocent, domestic violence, criticism, discord, rape, false witness, haughtiness, jealousy, etc. threaten the presence of us “houses”; all because individuals build their “houses” (neighborhoods, families, etc.) without Christ as its foundation. Sin (floodwaters of hate) is today destroying too many “houses”, which is exacerbating the civil war of man problem; thus giving Satan greater control of its spiritual slaves (and possibly, to the rest of the world) as these people must endure unstable conditions.
Freedom to man can occur when society chooses to let the Holy Spirit change their hateful hearts into loving, Christ-like ones (Romans 8:5-6). To those who surrender to the Holy Spirit, perfect fruit of the spirits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control) will be produced in their spirit (Galatians 5:19-23). This means people will become good and not evil, because these fruits will overpower Satan’s lawless desires of the flesh in us (Galatians 5:19-23). If humanity loves like Christ and not hate like Satan, society will be free from “civil war amongst man” as we will stumble not into another. For this all can take place, Holy Spirit must live inside the human spirit, which requires individuals being saved through the cross.
The Holy Spirit makes the lost a “new creation” when they accept Christ as their Savior (Romans 8:9-11). Sinners need spiritual water to quench their spiritual thirst. Christ, whose purpose was to save human souls from all wrongdoings as His perseverance overcame the greatest of adversity, will satisfy your thirst if you let Him. Jesus said in John 4:13-14 (KJV): “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a water springing up into everlasting life.” The Holy Spirit is the “water” that can set your soul free from spiritual slavery if you choose to let Him. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!” (Romans 10:9). To have freedom over sin, we must accept Christ as our Savior so the Holy Spirit can reside and do His work in us.
Christ is the Light that shines Himself through the darkness (sin, selfishness, hate), saving all of us sinking ships lost at sea, rescuing man from stormy waves (hell, sin, adversity). Christians need to be the “lighthouse” which makes Him visible to all. We are to “make disciples of all nations” and be a living example of how to be obedient (Matthew 28:19-20). In everything we do, Christ followers are to show the greatness of God as we lead man into all truth, show him the need and power of God’s love in human lives, and prove to them our Creator is a god we can trust. Whether we are a janitor, a preacher, a writer, an encouraging neighbor, a Sunday school teacher, a computer programmer, an athlete, an errand boy to the needy, on an overcoming cancer patient, it is all the same. We cannot let our lighthouse windows be dirty of sin so spiritual slaves and sinking ships (both aka: the unsaved, wayward Christians, strugglers of adversity) cannot find Christ’s light which leads to freedom.
Each man’s role, to end both spiritual slavery and our fighting amongst mankind, is as important as the other. Just as the eye is as essential as the hand in the human body’s daily functions, one person’s purpose is needed as much as another in the church body. So the church can bring forth human freedom in this lawless society, everyone must do their part (entire paragraph, see 1 Corinthians 12).
Pursuing freedom in an unfair world often involves facing great adversity like Lincoln did before. However, as we strive to do what we are meant to do, “there are no hopeless situations, only people who think hopelessly” (Windred Newman). As you face your giant, put your hope in the Lord. If we do this, “our hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18), and “anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11). Also, draw strength from the Lord when you feel like giving up. Isaiah 40:29-30 says: “He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and you men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”.
As we daily surrender to God’s will, our perseverance must triumph adversity. Our love for humanity must exceed our self-centeredness. Our faith must surpass our fears.
Put again your hope in the Word as you give Christ ownership of your fears. Meditate upon and trust in His promises and God will use trials to develop your endurance – “so you will “be strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:2-4). Then rely upon Christ’s power to deliver you through (Philippians 4:13).
“So don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time” (Galatians 6:9). Lincoln persevered, and his purpose gave blacks freedom and restored national unity as he saved human hearts. We must also be strong so we together can work toward ending spiritual slavery and also civil war amongst mankind. “With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
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