Lesson From A Founding Father
“26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Luke 2:26 NKJ
If on the last day of our life, we would look from that day back to all the days that have come before, we could certainly lament all the time wasted on anxieties that provided no gain to our life. We pray for things like the salvation of loved ones and become frustrated at the seemingly negligible change in their spiritual lives. Time passes, but they seem unaltered. God’s plans never fail. It is just hard to see because we view things through the short-term, not the long-term.
By way of example, consider the life of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. He is remembered today as a Deist, one that believed in a creator God, but did not view Jesus as being part of the Godhead. To the Deist, Jesus was just a very good man, but not God incarnate. This made Jefferson a man who was at odds with the common man of his time. He was also a man that modern-day Evangelical Christians do not look to as a role model. Throughout his life, his writings clearly indicate that Jefferson believed in neither the Trinity nor the divinity of Jesus.
In one of the great ironies of history, Jefferson died on the very day that marked the 50th anniversary of the document he was most responsible for, the Declaration Of Independence. What is not as commonly known is how the closing days of the life of this Founding Father were focused on the very Jesus he had denied as Christ throughout his life and writings. In the days that preceded his death, family members worried about Jefferson’s eternity. As queries were made, Jefferson was quite content and assuaged their fears with a single-minded focus in his last days on this earth. In those last days, Jefferson continually spoke of the story of Simeon from the Gospel of Luke. Simeon was the man who had been promised by the Lord that he would see the Messiah before his death. Upon seeing the infant Jesus, Simeon rejoiced, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke2: 29)
Thomas Jefferson was the brilliant man that God used to establish, in writing, our freedoms. He had spent his life denying the Christhood of Jesus. Before stepping from this life to the next, his only thoughts were on expressing to the concerned family around him about the man who could die in peace because his eyes had seen the Savior. How can one doubt that Jefferson had an epiphany in his final days about who Jesus Christ was? As Simeon had cast his eyes upon the infant Jesus before departing this life, so did this nation’s third President as his eyes were opened to the victorious Jesus.
What are you frustrated about because it appears the promises of God are tardy? Look through a longer lens that sees the end from the beginning and be encouraged. You may not see it today but the Lords plans will succeed. As Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
J Todd Hostetler