Tag Archives: Abe Lincoln

Waiting On the Rain

Rainbow in Storm - FREE

   Recently I sat on my deck with a cup of tea, staring up at the heaping purple clouds rolling in from the western skies, waiting on the rain. And that’s when it occurred to me that that would make a great song: “Waitin’ On the Rain”. Of course, it would have to be a blues tune, the desperate purge of some splintering soul mourning with slow, heart-wrenching, Muddy-Waters tears as hope, a final and dying note, withered slowly into silence. Waiting on the rain – the next inevitable disappointment, the next searing heartbreak, the next paralyzing regret – and the next and the next and the next . . .

   Am I right?

   Maybe. But it could be a Christian song. “Waitin’ On the Rain” – the rain of blessing, the rain of joy, the rain of hope, the rain of abundance, the rain of the Spirit, a downpour of the presence of the Lord, a flood of End-Time revival.

   Am I wrong?

   How we see the rain depends on our perspectives and our expectations. But mostly, it depends on what we believe.

   Do we believe, in spite of the devastating rains that will drench every life sometime, somewhere that God is ultimately in charge, that the clouds will eventually part and the sun will appear again? Or do we instead believe that the rain, even sustained though it might sometimes be, is the Great Flood of our lives, destroying all hopes, ship-wrecking all dreams; that rain – the final word in our destinies?

   There once was a man who experienced more rain in his life than most other people in history. You may have heard of him but in case you have not, know that few people have ever been defeated more times in life than he was and yet he never quit. His life went something like this:

  • 1816 – His family lost their home; he had to go to work.
  • 1818 – His mother died.
  • 1831 – His business failed.
  • 1832 – He ran for state legislature and lost; he lost his job; he applied to law school and was denied.
  • 1833 – He borrowed money for business and went bankrupt. He spent 17 years re-paying that debt.
  • 1834 – He ran for state legislature again and won.
  • 1835 – He was engaged to be married but his fiancé died.
  • 1836 – He had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
  • 1838 – He sought speakership of the state legislature and was defeated.
  • 1840 – He sought elector-ship and was defeated.
  • 1843 – He ran for Congress and lost.
  • 1846 – He ran for Congress and won.
  • 1848 – He ran for re-election to Congress and lost.
  • 1849 – He sought the position of land officer in Illinois and was rejected.
  • 1854 – He ran for Senate and lost.
  • 1856 – He sought the Vice-Presidential nomination and got less than 100 votes.
  • 1858 – He ran for U.S. Senate again and lost.
  • 1860 – He was elected President of the United States.

   You know this man as President Abraham Lincoln. He was, arguably, the most important president this nation has ever known because, if not for him, who knows how much longer this nation would have endured slavery? But because he was willing to stand for what he believed in, even to the point of going to war and being among the most hated men of his time, slavery ended. Would he have had the courage to face those hurricanes (they were so much more than “rain”) had he not chosen to endure and endure and endure in the midst of his own life’s hurricanes? I doubt it. If he learned one thing it was this: Quitting is not an option.

   There was another man who experienced rain in his life. It wasn’t easy; he tried and failed over and over again at one thing or another. He got a job as a retail manager but wasn’t great at sales and so got fired. Afterward, he found a job in construction but was laid off and had trouble finding another job because he didn’t have great references from the first job. In the meantime, his wife left him because she didn’t think he was working hard enough at finding employment or to repay their debt. Once she disappeared, he worked a little harder at finding a job and finally landed another in construction. That went pretty well and he was on the brink of getting back together with his wife when he was injured on the job; he busted out his knee. And even though Worker’s Comp paid for his knee surgery, he was in a great deal of pain and – you guessed it – ended up addicted to pain killers. At that point, his wife divorced him. Still, he did go to rehab for his addiction. His name was Marcus Brutus Brandonberg. Recognize that name? No? That’s because he stopped going to rehab. He stopped believing.

   He quit.

   Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s a concept that says that what we believe deep in our hearts will, ultimately and absolutely, determine what we get. And there’s nothing spooky or flaky or New Age-y about it because what we believe will eventually determine that most critical of factors: whether we persevere or whether we quit.

   If we believe the rain is an inevitable, all-powerful and ultimately destructive force in our lives over which we have no control, then we may as well quit. What would be the point of pushing through the pain? But if we recognize that there is a rain, a sweet rain of blessing which leads to honor and victory and destiny, then we won’t give up – in spite of the heartache and disappointment and pain. Rain can cause all of those things but one thing it cannot cause is defeat. Only we can do that.

   Or not.

   What do you see when you’re waiting on the rain?

 

 

 

 

 

Rise From the Ashes.

chess-pieces

What do George Washington, Susan Boyle, Mark Cuban, Michael Jordan, M&M, Helen Keller, Nick Vujicic, Abe Lincoln, and Cinderella all have in common? True – they’re all famous but that’s not it. Before they were famous, they were all “nobodies” or “failures” or “losers”.

They were all underdogs.

Let’s break it down. Take George Washington, for example. In the 1700’s, he had the gall to take on the best-trained and equipped, most powerful army in the world – the British – with the most ragtag bunch of men who ever had the nerve to call themselves an army. None in his small Continental Army had sufficient food or weapons, and many had only rags for shoes and tents for shelter in the bitter cold of a Valley Forge winter. And as if that weren’t enough, a large portion of the colonists weren’t even standing with Washington; they were supporting the British.

 George Washington was not supposed to win that war – but he did. He led that scrappy little Continental Army to an astounding victory over the British. (And the whole civilized world was scandalized!)

Susan Boyle is the woman with Asperger’s Syndrome (a type of autism) who had the courage to audition for Britain’s Got Talent (similar to American Idol). If you’ve never seen the video of her debut appearance on the show, U-Tube it. The best part is Simon Cowell’s face when she appeared on stage as a timid, socially-awkward woman who looked like she’d probably never sung anywhere but the shower. But when she opened her mouth, magic happened. Since then, Susan Boyle has become world-famous, having sold millions of CD’s.

Susan Boyle wasn’t just a low-odds’ gamble; she was a no-odds’ guarantee. And there are more:

Mark Cuban, the multi-billionaire from Shark Tank, dropped out of high school before his senior year and then survived as a bartender, DJ, and party producer. That was before making his billions as a technology tycoon.

M&M is the wrong color and shouldn’t have been able to do what he did: become a rap artist. Everyone knows white men can’t rap. Apparently, M&M didn’t know it. Or – maybe he did – and he did it anyway.

And then there was Michael Jordan – cut from his high school basketball team. (How would you love to be that coach?) Nevertheless, Michael Jordan became one of the most successful, highly paid basketball stars the NBA has ever seen. Even twelve years after his last NBA game, Jordan has made more money in endorsements and sponsorships than he ever made as a BB player: a cool billion, in fact.

Not bad for an underdog.

Helen Keller, as we might remember, became blind, deaf and mute at 19 months old as a result of an unknown illness. Despite all odds, Keller grew up to be the first deaf-blind person ever to earn a bachelor of arts degree, in addition to becoming an American author, political activist, and lecturer.

Nick Vujicic has no arms and no legs. Still, he travels the world speaking, many times in schools, where his message is “you are loved”. It’s not, Vujicic says, about what you look like – or don’t look like; it’s about who you are. Who would have believed that anyone would receive Nick’s message? Nick did.

 And then there was Abraham Lincoln. Few people have ever been defeated more times in life then he was and yet come so far back. To say that he was an underdog when running for president would be a really amusing understatement. Here’s why:

  • 1816 – Family lost their home; he had to go to work.
  • 1818 – Mother died.
  • 1831 – Business failed.
  • 1832 – Ran for state legislature – lost; lost his job; applied to law school – denied.
  • 1833 – Borrowed money for business, went bankrupt. Spent 17 years repaying debt.
  • 1834 – Ran for state legislature again – won.
  • 1835 – Engaged to be married, fiancé died.
  • 1836 – Had total nervous breakdown; in bed for six months.
  • 1838 – Sought speakership of the state legislature – defeated.
  • 1840 – Sought elector-ship – defeated.
  • 1843 – Ran for Congress – lost.
  • 1846 – Ran for Congress again and won.
  • 1848 – Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
  • 1849 – Sought position of land officer in Illinois – rejected.
  • 1854 – Ran for Senate – lost.
  • 1856 – Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination – got less than 100 votes.
  • 1858 – Ran for U.S. Senate again – lost.
  • 1860 – Elected President of the United States.

Has there ever been a bigger underdog than Honest Abe? (Not counting, of course, dozens of Bible underdogs who shouldn’t have been able to do what they did either: David, Joseph, Rahab, Esther, Gideon, Noah, Mary Magdalene, Peter, John the Baptist – that list continues ad infinitum.)

And . . . Cinderella. Why a fairy-tale princess? Cinderella represents all of the dozens of characters in literature who are underdogs in the face of impossible odds and who, despite that, press on to overcome and achieve their goals, dreams, visions, and destinies. Cinderella rose from the ashes to find, not only true love, but her place as royalty.

If you’re feeling like the “least likely to succeed,” that’s a really good place to be. Why? Because God loves an underdog.

Now rise.