Archive for December, 2012
One of the most memorable places I visited while I was in London this summer was Westminster Abbey, a famous church that has been the site for coronations of English kings and queens for nearly 1,000 years. The church also serves as the burial grounds for all kinds of famous people. In addition to the monarchs buried there, Westminster Abbey is the resting place for such people as Isaac Newton, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Pitt and Charles Dickens.
While it was fascinating to visit the graves of such notable people, there was one man whose grave I was especially interested in seeing – the great William Wilberforce.
Born more than 250 years ago in England, Wilberforce spent decades as a member of Parliament, where his chief passion and goal was to eliminate slavery from his nation. The practice of slavery was deeply embedded in the British economy, and its eradication was certainly a difficult task. He had powerful and dangerous enemies, and some of them threatened to kill him. His commitment to his cause also cost him several friendships, and he faced tremendous pressure to give up the crusade.
But Wilberforce refused to back down. He knew that his cause was just, and he knew that the Lord was with him, so he kept fighting year after year. His tireless efforts eventually led Great Britain to abolish the slave trade, and then to outlaw slavery entirely. Few people have had as significant of an impact upon the world as Wilberforce.
You may very well face some of the same struggles that Wilberforce did, as you grow up in a country that is increasingly hostile to Christianity. Should you choose to follow Christ, which is my most fervent prayer, you will most likely encounter ridicule, scorn and disdain from others. Our nation, which was founded upon principles of freedom — including freedom of religion — has in recent years shown little interest in protecting and securing the blessings of those liberties for itself or for future generations.
But even in the midst of opposition and hostility, I pray that the spirit of William Wilberforce will rest upon you – that you would fight for righteousness and truth, knowing that the Lord will always be with you to strengthen and guide you.
On his 41st birthday, Wilberforce prayed: “Oh Lord, purify my soul from all its stains. Warm my heart with the love of thee, animate my sluggish nature and fix my inconstancy, and volatility, that I may not be weary in well doing.”
Today, as you turn 4, I can think of no better prayer for you than that which Wilberforce prayed for himself. I pray that the Lord would purify your soul and incline your heart toward him, even at a young age, so that you would live a life of faithfulness and vibrant devotion to Christ. I pray that he would give you a passion for his work. And I pray that even when the world around you embraces wickedness and lies, the Lord would grant you strength and endurance like Wilberforce had, that you will be bold and relentless as you stand for what’s right and true.
Happy birthday, little man. You bring lots of joy into my life, and I love you very much.