Stepping Into History
When we read of the courage of those who have gone before us, it is quite easy to assume the role of spectator or, perhaps, to briefly step into their lives and vicariously relive their trials and triumphs. Such exercise can sharpen our appreciation for the stuff of hard choices, forcing us to think about how we ourselves would respond in similar situations. Still, these past events remain exterior to our own lives and we may choose to visit them, or not, at our leisure.
But do we not have our own real, flesh and blood lives to live? More importantly, is not the God of history also the God of the present, ordering the events of our lives as surely as he ordered them for believers in eras past? It is only when we can put down an article about a Rev. John Rankin, the Presbyterian conductor of the Underground Railroad, and say “these are such times” that we begin to understand the awe-inspiring tasks that lie before us.
Anton Praetorious debunked the “witch” trials of his era, refusing to indulge either the misplaced fears of the populace, or the feigned ability of priests, preachers and magistrates to peer infallibly into the hearts of others. From his example, we learn that doing things decently and in order is more than decorum, it is the path that honors God and serves our fellow citizens. These are such times.
Edward VI, the boy king, was everything his father, Henry VIII, was not. He refused to let power, privilege and family overrule his duty to Christ. How we deceive ourselves if we think that such challenges of faith are mere artifacts of history, events experienced by others rather than exemplars of every Christian life. Our daily challenges, trials and opportunities are no less a test of faith. May we boldly embrace them for, indeed, these are such times.
On the Cover
Jerry Pinkney (1939- ). Cover for Underground Railroad Official National Park Handbook, 1997.
The January-March 2010 issue includes these articles:
- Bound for Canaan
- Crossing the Jordan
- Edward VI, the Boy King
- Anton Praetorius
- James Prescott Joule