Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Honest Abe

There is only one person who has had more written about him than Abraham Lincoln and his name is Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite stories about Lincoln is the story behind the Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech. Lincoln wrote and rewrote his speech for this event several times and was never happy with the result. He finally wrote the words to this most memorable speech on a piece of blue paper and stuffed into his hat. When he arrived at Gettysburg the crowd was more than 30,000 people - a huge crowd, most of whom had never seen a President in their life. The first speaker was Edward Everett, a famous orator of the day. Everett was an hour late and then spoke for two hours. When Lincoln stood to speak the people had been waiting for at least three hours and many had been there much longer. Lincoln got up and spoke in his high thin voice and most of the crowd could not hear anything he said. He spoke for only a few minutes. At the end there was no applause. Lincoln was convinced the speech was a total disaster. On the train home, he had to lay down, suffering a migraine and feeling terribly depressed. President Lincoln would go to his grave believing that the speech was an utter failure. Fortunately several reporters wrote the text of the speech down and included the text of the speech in their reports.
Over time as more and more people read these simple but profound thoughts penned by Honest Abe they came to believe that it was a masterpiece. Still today this brief speech is considered perhaps the greatest speech ever given by anyone, much less a President.
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...."
All these years later, most of us know these words and count them as powerful beyond measure.

Time has a way of bringing clarity about the value and beauty of many things. Great speeches, powerful books, acts of goodwill and bravery are often not appreciated until much later.

I am amazed when someone tells me that a story I told or a prayer I prayed or visit I made is still vivid in their memory even though 10, 15, 20 years have passed. Usually I have no memory of it, but those words or deeds spoken have somehow blessed and encouraged another for decades.

Don't judge the impact of what you do or say too quickly. Time will bear witness to their value.
Just keep speaking words of love and grace and planting seeds of hope - the harvest will come, in it's on time.

Just thinking, Steve

1 comment:

  1. Just the type of thoughts to bring me out of lurker mode.

    I don't know how to type "nodding head with approval" so does it count if I type it in subtext with italics?

    Yes. Yes. Yes!! Love it.