I can’t seem to get Abraham Lincoln off my mind. Maybe it’s because of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film nominated for 12 Academy Awards. Daniel Day Lewis captured the character of the lanky leader in a gripping manner and is most deserving of the best actor Oscar.
Perhaps I’m fixated on Honest Abe because this week marks his birthday. When I was a kid, Lincoln’s day wasn’t shared with Washington or the other presidents. We gave our 16th president the due he deserves. After all, the self-educated politician modeled visionary leadership. In a season when our nation could easily have been known as the Divided States of America, Lincoln dared to stand alone perceiving a preferred future.
Tom and Nancy Lincoln could not have known their infant son would be so like the Abraham of the Bible when they named him. They had no idea their boy would follow a Divine leading. A leading that would find him leaving the land of his birth to claim a land of promise. Like his Hebrew namesake, Lincoln would die before seeing the fulfillment of his dream. He had no idea how all the pieces of the political puzzle would fall into place.
Abraham Vereide didn’t either. When he died in 1969, this Norwegian-born Methodist minister couldn’t visualize how his dream for uniting politicians and business leaders through prayer would eventually be realized. Beginning in the state of Washington, Reverend Abe established the prayer breakfast movement in 1935 that would eventually give way to the annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
This Abraham’s vision has resulted in interdenominational efforts of hospitality, friendship and advocacy in every state of the union. What is more, his concern for the welfare of immigrants resulted in the founding of Goodwill Industries in Seattle nearly 80 years ago.
What is it about Abrahams and their ability to see what others don’t? Perhaps my friend Abe Kaplan could explain. On a near daily basis, this Mercer Island musician can be seen at the North end Starbucks cradling his laptop all the while composing music. Like the Abraham in the Bible, being 82 doesn’t slow Abe down. This retired professor of choral music at the University of Washington is energized following his God-given call. He delights in creating musical settings for Old Testament Scripture. And he, too, is an example of visionary leadership. As he places notes on his electronic score, he sees what others cannot. He hears the music before it is played.
Thanks to the aforementioned Abrahams, we have four examples who call us to follow our passions and make a difference for good no matter what our names might be.