On October 3 1789, President George Washington issued a Proclamation. He stated, “Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; . . .” (Washington).
Seventy-four years later, in the midst of a bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued another Proclamation. It stated, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” (Lincoln).
Many centuries before, in another nation, a leader, at the end of his reign, also looked beyond himself to give thanks. In the presence of the whole assembly, King David praised the Lord, saying,
Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (NIV, 1 Chron 29.10-13)
Like these men, do you lead by example by looking beyond yourself?
Lincoln, Abraham. “A Proclamation.” Washington D.C. 3 Oct 1863. Abraham Lincoln Online. Web. 26 Nov 2015.
New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 26 Nov 2015.
Washington, George. “A Proclamation.” New York. 3 Oct 1789. The Heritage Foundation. Web. 26 Nov 2015.
As I walked up the ramp leading from the sandy beach, I turned to look back. Pushing through the parting clouds, the sun’s rays shined brilliantly as their source descended to the horizon far in the distance. Nearby, powerful four-foot waves repeatedly crashed in rapid succession. A beautiful sight, I usually surfed until sunset so I could enjoy it -- but not tonight. After only about an hour, the fierce waves chased me out of the water. As I looked, I averted my focus to something else directly in view -- a massive manmade structure.
Extending into the ocean, the massive Scripps Pier, with its solid gray concrete pillars, is wide and strong enough to support vehicles. As I looked, I remembered a brilliant sunset several months earlier when red, orange and yellow light combined with a placid blue sea and wispy white clouds to create a majestic explosion of colors and shadows. In the midst of this postcard, the dark immovable pier cast a noticeable blemish on God’s painting.
What a difference, in this case, between God’s creation and man’s creation.
When you look at things, how often do you see what God is doing versus what man is doing? Are you like me, often letting the concerns of man obscure your view of God? What can you do to keep your focus on what is important?
How can you lead others to do the same?
"Let's say you wanted to go to Los Angeles,” I said to him. “And you asked two people for directions. One of them tells you to go out of our apartment complex, take a left and get on Interstate 5 north to LA. The other person sincerely and confidently tells you to exit our building, make a left, and take Interstate 5 south. They then tell you to cross into Mexico and continue on Highway 1 south, passing through Ensenada, until you reach Bahia de los Angeles. While both people intended to help you, only one of them did so.”
A few months ago, while talking with a friend from Saudi Arabia, I used this analogy in an attempt to help him understand my message. You see, while the second direction-giver was also sincere, the route would have led my friend to a totally different location from where he intended to go.
Imagine my friend’s reaction when he reached the outskirts of Bahia de los Angeles and realized he was in the wrong place. Hopefully, he would have sensed something wasn’t right long before he reached that point.
How about you? When you need guidance in life, whom do you ask? Are you heading in the right direction? Where will you find yourself at the end of your life?
Many years ago, a man named Thomas asked the greatest leader alive today for directions. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (NIV, John 14.6).
Do you believe this?
Source: New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 24 Oct 2015.
The massive Pacific Surfliner rounds the bend and appears in the distance. From my position on the landing, I watch it approach, the train’s bright headlights getting bigger and bigger. It gradually comes to a stop and I hurry with the small crowd to the nearest door. I go up the stairs trying to find a good seat and spot a spacious four-seat section. Before sitting down, I unzip my backpack and pull out the most widely read book in the world (Polland). Satisfied with my window seat, I turn to watch the other passengers boarding.
After a few moments, one of them, a young man, instead of passing by, turns to me and says, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never rode the train before. Is this the train for San Diego?”
“Yes,” I said. “This will take us all the way to San Diego.”
“Okay, thanks,” he responds, before deciding to sit across from me on the other side of the aisle.
As the seats begin to fill, I suggest to him that he move to my section, and he quickly agrees. A short time later, he asks me about the book I am holding and between Goleta and San Diego we cover a lot of theology.
About a month later, one of the questions he asked came back to my mind.
“If someone was trying to decide why they should become a Christian, what would you say?”
Personal Conversation. May 2016.
Polland, Jennifer. “The 10 Most Read Books In The World.” Business Insider 27 Dec 2012. Web.
As the world passes from one year to another, I wonder how many more of these celebrations we will have? I also wonder how many people, because they hope for, wait for, an end to this world, did not wholeheartedly reign in the New Year?
Who would wish for such a thing?
Maybe someone who sees an end to the present order and a renewing of the heavens and earth as a good thing? Someone who understands, partly from history, that mankind will never figure it out. Indeed, many years ago, as you probably know, human beings were so evil that God rightfully killed them by flooding the world. However, in his mercy, God spared mankind from annihilation through Noah, who obeyed God by building an ark. When the waters came, Noah saved himself and his family by entering the ark (NIV, Gen 6-9).
This New Year’s, I wonder how many looked back to remember Noah, the courageous man whose leadership and obedience gave us life?
I also wonder how many looked forward, to when God will destroy the world again - this time by fire (NIV, 2 Peter 3.7-10)? Are you one of these people? Do you know the Noah of the second destruction?
Are you part of his family?
Source: New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 3 Jan 2016.