Here’s one from Lincoln on humility. The source is Brian Lamb’s book, “Abraham Lincoln,” in which a chapter from David Herbert Donald contains the story.
Toward the end of the Civil War, Lincoln decided to visit Richmond to see what it had been like. A tugboat was found to carry him and his small party — including son Tad — up the river. Soon, they ran into barriers and obstructions placed to impede traffic, so they transferred to a smaller boat. Before long, a message arrived saying the army needed that boat. This time, the presidential party transferred to a rowboat. Lincoln uncomplainingly got into the rowboat and they slowly made their way toward Richmond.
“You know,” Lincoln said, “this reminds me of a little story.” Everything reminded him of a story; one more reason we adore him. “When I first came into office, there was a man who came to me applying for office from Illinois, I believe it was. He said, ‘I want to be secretary of state; won’t you appoint me?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I’ve already appointed Secretary Seward.’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘well, can’t you appoint me consul general to Paris?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘that post is already filled.’ ‘Well, could you appoint me collector of customs in Austin?’ ‘No, that post is already filled.’ ‘Well,’ said the man, ‘at least, at least could you give me an old pair of pants?'” Lincoln added, “It pays to be humble, and I’m not upset by coming to Richmond in a rowboat.”
President Lincoln must have known our Lord’s teaching in Luke 14.
Here’s a story that is making the internet circuit, arriving at my desk this morning from longtime friend Ann Allen in Columbus, Mississippi.
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. (Hmmm. Must be an old story!)
“That laundry is not very clean,” she said. “She obviously doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line, and said to her husband, “Look. She has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”
Her husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
Today at Sam’s Club, as I waited in the checkout line, a young woman approached me and said, “Sir, would you like a free pumpkin pie?”
I said, “Of course, I would. And just what would I have to do in order to get this FREE pumpkin pie?”
(Is that the question of a skeptic or what?)
She said, “Sign up for a new Discover credit card.”
I said, “I don’t need another credit card. Can I still have the pie?”
“No, you’d have to earn it.”
I said, “But it’s free. You said so yourself.”
She said, “It is free — to everyone who signs up for the new credit card.”
I could see there was no sense in trying to finagle her out of that pie. Had it been pecan, now, I’d have debated with her a little longer.
Two hours earlier, I had sent my brother-in-law Jim Schroeder a couple of little things from an old Reader’s Digest. Jim is battling a debilitating disease and needs some humor in his life. My wife suggested I drop him a humorous story once in a while. I dug out an old issue of RD and sent him the stories. Here’s the one the Sam’s lady reminded me of….
Portia Greelee of Green Bay, Wisconsin, wrote: “Enough driving for one day, my husband and I decided. We pulled into a motel, where the desk clerk offered us what sounded like two identical rooms. The catch: one was $59 a night and the other was $79.”
“Why is one $20 more?” I asked.
His explanation: “Free cable.”
We can be glad that when God’s word says salvation is free, it means exactly that. Likewise, “eternity” means forever and “shall never perish” means precisely what it says. We understand this skeptical generation which finds this hard to believe since every sales pitch around us uses words and offers claims with hidden meanings. (When was the last time you heard the offer for “free credit report,” only to discover you had to sign up for six months of some insurance program in order to get this freebie?)
“Thank you, Lord, for meaning what you say and saying what you mean. Help my skeptical heart to take you at your word and reach up in faith to accept what you are offering. Amen.”