Franklin Graham, best in his prayer at the inauguration of President W. George Bush, sale quoted some backburner words that many liberal historians love to dismiss when it comes to understanding Abraham Lincoln.
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. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended powers, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Abraham Lincoln
For decades, historians refused to believe that Abraham Lincoln ever embraced Christianity. They felt he only used Christian words and phrases to advance his political causes. But Lincoln, in the second year of his presidency, made a very clear profession of faith (Abraham the Christian, by William Johnson). During this critical year, the second year of the Civil War, Lincoln suffered greatly. His Union Army suffered one loss after the next. The mounting criticism he received for these losses was inconceivable. He was termed by a majority of the press on both sides of the conflict as America’s worst president. Along with all of these events, his beloved son Willie died. To say Lincoln was not affected by all these events is not to know the man; he was greatly distraught. Yet in his hours of agony, he reached out to God. Among his many confessing words, he said, “I now love Jesus.” (Mark 12:28-30)
Soon after events changed. Lee lost the battle of Gettysburg, and the war was soon over. Lincoln went from zero to hero, from the worst to the greatest president. But all this mattered little to Lincoln; his newfound relationship with Christ was everything to him. On the way to Ford’s theatre, the last day of his life, he talked of going to Jerusalem “to walk where Jesus walked,” and of course to see his son again. And that evening he did just that. So when the celebration of President’s Day comes each year, remember the commitment of Lincoln and other American Presidents who made Christ their Lord.
In your teachable moment there are two application possibilities to consider. First, take out a five-dollar bill and have your children study its features. Ask them to identify the president on the bill. When they have identified Lincoln, relate the story of his conversion. Then ask them to find words on the bill that relate to his conversion. “Those words are: “In God We Trust, ” which represents exactly what Lincoln did with his faith. Now if your children are willing to share this story of Lincoln with a friend, tell them to invite a friend out for an ice cream (or any other event), but before they pay the $5.00 bill challenge them to first share Lincolns story.
The second consideration is what I did with my daughter when she was in 6th grade. We studied the spiritual life of Abraham Lincoln together and she prepared a graduation speech accordingly. Here is Shannon’s 6th grade graduation speech presented to Village Christian School, 1992.
Abraham Lincoln: A Man After God’s Heart
By: Shannon McClain
On January 12, 1862 a Maryland fugitive slave wrote these words to his wife.
“It is with great joy that I take this time to let you know where I am. I am now in the safety of the 14th regiment of Brooklyn this day. I can address you thank God as a free man. I had little trouble in getting away, but as the Lord led the children of Israel to the land of Canaan, so He led me to a land where freedom will reign. My dear, I can’t express my desire strong enough to see you again. . I trust the time will come when we shall meet again and if we don’t meet on earth we will meet in heaven where Jesus reigns.”
This perhaps was the greatest day in this slave’s life, because of one of the greatest Presidents in the United States history. And considered by many the greatest man to live in the 19th Century. Of course the man of whom I speak is Abraham Lincoln. From the very beginning of this man’s life he would say many things to change lives and turn a nation around.
Last year, when I recited the Gettysburg Address in class, I admired many things Lincoln said. “That these men shall not die in vain” sticks in my memory especially after visiting Gettysburg. But the words that I will never forget were sitting next to Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. “That these truth are self-evident that all men are created equal.” I believe that the words he said here and his forcefulness to put an end to slavery were his greatest contributions to this country.
Why was he so wise, so bold, so honest, and such a great man? Because he had three great characteristics that led his life. Three characteristics I can hopefully learn to use in my life: compassion, honesty, and his love for God.
Lincoln was a man of compassion, because he felt and responded to the hurt and sufferings of others. His compassion drove him to free all men and women through the Emancipation Proclamation. But his compassion ran deeper than just being a great lawmaker. Lincoln on many occasions was found teaching the White House black servants to read and to understand the written language, and he ended each session with prayer for their needs.
Lincoln was known as “Honest Abe.” He kept his word to the black slaves of this nation by freeing them as he said he would. Lincoln was also honest with himself about how these events happened. One day as Lincoln was traveling by boat to Richmond; many slaves caught sight of him and began yelling! “Here is the great Messiah! He has come to free us all.” But “Honest Abe” told them that it was God and God alone that brought them their freedom.
Lincoln respected God, but wasn’t until the death of his son and the bloody battle of Gettysburg that he dedicated his life to Christ. In his own words he said, “I love Jesus.
We honor Lincoln today by putting his picture on our currency and naming cities after him. But for me the greatest honor was given to him the last day of his life, the day he went to Ford’s theatre. According to his wife this was the happiest day of his life. After Lee had surrendered, Lincoln knew the war was over and he spoke of the things he would like to do most. Lincoln wanted to visit Jerusalem and walk where Jesus walked. That night, a shot rang out, but the 16th President of the United States walked with Jesus in Paradise with believers who gave him the parade he missed on earth. (Revelation 21:1-2)
Mark 12: 28-30 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
Revelation 21:1-2 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.