Many say that more words have been written about Abraham Lincoln than any other person in history except Jesus Christ. Yet interestingly Abraham Lincoln was almost totally a self-educated man. He was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky and his family struggled with hardship and poverty for most of his childhood. It is reported that he attended formal schooling for less than twelve months of his life. However Lincoln continued to learn on his own from life experiences, reading and reciting what he had read or heard from others. As a young man he was often seen walking to and from work with an open book, barely looking where he was going. Increasingly law books filled his reading list and by 1836, entirely through self-study, Lincoln passed the bar exam allowing him to practice law in Illinois.
In 1832 at 23 years of age Lincoln began his career in politics, which culminated in him being elected president of the United States in1860.
However as a man and politician Abraham Lincoln had his fair share of flaws. He held political beliefs, which perhaps many would struggle with today; he battled with depression, and never felt comfortable in the company of woman. “Yet most historians recognise that Lincoln, as a man did not fail because of his flaws. Lincoln as a man raised himself from a dirt-floor cabin to the White House and was responsible for guiding his country through one of its most difficult periods in it’s history, as he led the country and its citizens to the abolition of slavery.” (David P Press)
When life looks difficult and the road ahead seems unclear its people like Abraham Lincoln that can encourage and inspire us to keep going. He was born into disadvantage, suffered loss and tragedy and did not have the benefit of an education that many today take for granted. Yet regardless of these difficulties he chose to always be learning, exploring, discovering, listening and asking questions to better himself and to change his lot in life.
Too often it seems we can make excuses for failing to rise above our circumstances, shortcomings, flaws and failings. Perhaps therefore the questions we must ask ourselves are, “are these things an excuse for not being all that God has created us to be? Are these flaws and struggles a reason to give up and to settle for less than we should in life? Or should we not take what we have already, honour and thank God for it, and then push onwards and upwards?
God is no respecter of persons; what He helps and encourages one man or woman to do, He will do for another. For what it is that God takes notice of is faith and belief. He knows when we activate these things in our lives our limits come off and all things become possible. (Acts 10:34)
Let’s take a leaf out of Abraham Lincoln’s book and make a decision to get up and move forward; to determine to continue to learn and discover about those things we don’t know; to be curious, to ask questions and continually be listening and growing. If others can rise and succeed in the face of adversity, then why can’t we? Especially when we know that God is with us and desires for us to prosper in all that we do. (Deuteronomy 30:9)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8:28)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Prayer: Lord please help me to recognise that I am far more capable than I often realise, and that with your help I can do all things. Help me to remember that what once may have been a barrier, will with you by my side be something I can overcome. In Jesus name Amen.