I grew up before there was a “President’s Day”. We celebrated both “George Washington’s Birthday” and “Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday”. I don’t remember getting off of school, though. I think we just spent the whole day reading and hearing stories about Washington and Lincoln as well as drawing pictures and making crafts of their images.
I never really developed a strong interest in George Washington, even though I still remember a song in a play we did where I had a lead solo –
Me: “We gotta have a leader.”
Chorus: “Yeah, man.”
Me: “He’s got to be strong.”
Chorus: “Yeah, man.’
Me: “He’s got to be brave.”
Chorus: “Yeah, man.”
Me: “Who’s the man I’m talking about?
Chorus: “G-E-O-R-G-E Washington.”
Honest Abe Lincoln, however, captured my imagination. The stories of his growing up in a log cabin (I actually grew up in a converted log cabin), his passion for reading, his interest in fairness. Later, I learned he battled bleak periods of despair, something I could deeply appreciate as well.
People debate Lincoln’s religious faith. Secularists contend he never joined a church, which is true (though he regularly attended a Presbyterian church). Christians point to the depth and breadth of God in Lincoln’s writings.
Regardless of Lincoln’s standing in the Church, he clearly conveyed the most fully developed Biblical perspective of any politician before or since. In an age of stark relativism, where “my truth” is more important than “the Truth” (which arguably, doesn’t exist), hear his words –
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
As for doubt and the existence of God, Lincoln shows both compassion and conviction –
“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”
Finally, for someone who faced some of the greatest moral dilemmas of all time, he was clear where he most sought guidance –
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
What are your reflections of George and Abe today?