"Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant." ~ Matthew 20:26, NLT
Today the nation stops to honor those who have led our country as president. The holiday was originally established in 1885 for the birthday of President George Washington and celebrated on the third Monday of February. In 1971 as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create three day weekends, the holiday became known as President's Day and is now recognized as a popular day to celebrate U.S. presidents past and present.
Perhaps I'm just "old school" and feel as though we have been ripped off by the change. I remember fun activities from grade school in February as we celebrated Valentine's day, President Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday. These presidents had a huge impact on my thinking and were worthy of being remembered. George Washington knew the importance of including God and the Bible. One of my favorite quotes comes from him: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible." Another worth remembering "What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ." "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." The picture of President Washington praying along with quotes such as these were posted proudly in our public school rooms. He was considered the father of the nation, our first president and worthy of remembering.
President Lincoln was honored because of his work to abolish slavery in our nation. It is an ugly part of our nation's history, but needs to be remembered so we won't repeat the same error. Fighting against slavery was not a popular position for a president as many in the southern states saw nothing wrong with owning slaves. President Lincoln, like President Washington knew the importance of aligning oneself with Almighty God as seen in this quote: "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
It's not that I think other presidents aren't worthy of honor, but these two exhibited an attitude of grace worth recalling. I can't imagine the pressure of being in the position of leading a nation, but especially leading a nation as diverse as America. One of the reasons these two men stand out is because they boldly proclaimed their dependance on God.
As a citizen it's easy to criticize the actions of those in leadership, especially if they weren't who we voted into office. As a child of God, we are reminded in Scripture to obey those in authority over us, and to pray for them. (Romans 13:1 and 1 Timothy 2:2) It is God who has appointed them for such a time as this and we are to obey God. So the challenge arises for each of us. Are we going to align ourselves with mankind and reap the harvest of the whirlwind of negative behavior and speech, or will we be obedient to God and ask Him to intercede on behalf of our President and our nation?
One of my favorite Scriptures comes to mind as a closing: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Prayer changes things, but it has to begin in a heart that desires to be obedient to God.