Back in the Saddle with Abraham Lincoln

Well, this is embarrassing.

It’s been well over a month since I last posted. I could give some excuses. One or two of them would be decent, but you don’t really care, do you? Plus, if I do that, I’m going to run out of time and space to talk about something meaningful.

Each year I try to focus on something to do a little deeper study in. Sometimes it’s actually research. Other times it’s just reading several books on a topic. This year I’ve read a handful of books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. It’s been wonderful. And my regard for Abraham Lincoln is off the charts now. Considering his accomplishments and the situation he found himself in, his greatness is assumed. But as you get to know him through a few different sources, he becomes even more towering. I’ll cover a few things from A. Lincoln by Ronald White and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin over the next few blog posts – hopefully the next one isn’t in September.

It’s been awhile since I cracked White’s volume since I read it before Goodwin’s, but as I look at the page tabs, I suppose it has proven providential to work through them in order. Lincoln’s spiritual life seems to be a matter of debate. I’ll leave that for the trained historians, but I appreciate White’s comments upon Lincoln’s increased church attendance when he arrived in Washington DC.

Lincoln, ever attuned to paradox, appreciated the Presbyterian belief that the sinfulness of human beings did not lead to passivity, because Christian men and women were called to be instruments of divine purpose in society (p. 404).

I love this. It’s very real – and dark. Humanity is a mess. But it’s also hopeful. We’re God’s instruments for change in the world. God is indeed sovereign, but this is no excuse for our inactivity. This is a delicate line to walk. Maybe we shouldn’t walk it. Paradox works.

I’m not always comfortable with it, but Jesus seems to have no qualms with it – we even talked about it in the Parable of the Soils last Sunday.

So, whether we understand it or not, we can be certain that God has created us to do His good work in the world. We’re His instruments – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2.10 (ESV)

I suppose we should get to work.

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