Shipwrecks loom large in biblical imagery, and the rescue of lost mariners a common metaphor for salvation. So strong are the bonds of this metaphor, that we are not at all pleased when a story doesn’t end as we think it ought. Certainly, that is the case with the heart-wrenching circumstances that led Horatio Spafford to pen the words “It is Well with My Soul.”
I have read the touching tale many times, in various volumes of hymn stories, and there is certainly no reason that we cannot sing this hymn today, but we really do need for someone to tell us, as Paul Harvey used to, the “rest of the story.” In this issue, regular Leben author Kate Uttinger does just that.
As with so many of the flawed individuals whom she has brought to us, Kate gives us a measured and balanced picture of Horatio Spafford, and his most unusual wife, Anna. It is a story that takes full stock of the tragedies this couple underwent, and the impact that such events would have on any of us, but with Anna, we see a life unhinged. There is no false drama in the telling, for the adventure upon which the Spaffords embarked had plenty of that at every turn. You’ll meet the Presbyterian elders who butted heads with the Spaffords, the Heiress, the Turk and the Swedes whom they encountered in the “American Colony” which they built in Jerusalem. Oh yes, it’s quite the story.
Compared to the Spafford saga, the life of fellow Chicagoan John Crerar might seem quite dull, yet the lasting testimony to his life are the thousands upon thousands introduced to the Gospel through the gracious gifts and labors of this simple businessman. We file these stories away in our “A Life Well Lived” drawer, and dust them off to remind ourselves how we are blessed daily by the quiet labors of those who prepared the way for us.
The George Wishart story reminds us of the cost of discipleship which the saints have willingly paid, while we return briefly to the Reformation in Poland (and Lithuania) and the tales of the Red Prince and the Black Prince who, for a few moments in time, seemed poised to make their homeland the center of the Reformation. And finally, we bring you the life of what is surely one of the least appreciated of our Founding Fathers, the good doctor Witherspoon.
On the Cover
Grief, (oil on linen), original painting by Cynthia Angeles, PaintingsByCynthia.com
The Jan-Mar 2014 issue includes these articles:
- Anna Spafford and The Shipwreck of the American Colony
- Chiseled in Stone: John Crerar and His Library
- George Wishart
- John Witherspoon: Pastor, Politician, Patriot
- Black Prince, Red Prince