Wow. A missionary decided to show the movie Courageous to tribes in Malawi, even though her intended audience didn’t speak English. So, what happened? Read on.
Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’
One of the most requested devotionals in our bookstore since the get-go has been Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, which has been in print since 1924. A while back, I snagged a 1965 print run copy for myself. By then, there were already more than two million copies in print. I can see why. It’s a gem.
It’s a compilation of thoughts and quotes, in the form of a daily devotional. I think part of its staying power is that it focuses on faith that grows in times of trial, something all too many Christian books either gloss over or avoid, or simply don’t understand. Mrs. Cowman served as a missionary in China and Japan, and spent six years nursing a dying husband. The back cover copy on my book reads:
“We thank Thee Lord, for weary days
When desert streams were dry,
And first we knew what depths of need
Thy Love could satisfy.
We thank Thee for the rest in Him
The weary only know-
The perfect, wondrous sympathy
We needs must learn below.
The touch that heals the broken heart
is never felt above;
The angels know His blessedness,
His way-worn saints, His love.”
There are several versions still in print, including ‘updated’ editions, put into more modern English, so I’m linking here to the author’s page at Zondervan, so you can browse the offerings.
There are other books out there with the same title, by the way, so if you are ordering elsewhere, make sure you have the book by Mrs. Cowman.
Virtue and Courage – What America Could Use Now
by Gary Palmer
Ordinarily, when a 21 year-old man thinks about what he will do with the rest of his life, he thinks in terms of years. But the tall, handsome, athletic and well-educated young man being led to his date with the executioner could have only been thinking of the minutes he had left to live.
It is certain that he thought of his family because just before he was executed, he hastily wrote a letter to his mother. But family members were not the only people on his mind. He also had a message for those who gathered to witness his death that day and for every American who desired to live in freedom when he spoke in defense of the cause for which he and his comrades were fighting and for which he was about to give his life. Nathan Hale said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
Denied a military trial, denied a Bible and denied a visit by a clergyman, Captain Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy by the British on September 22, 1776 in an artillery park near the East River in New York City.
The story of Nathan Hale and his last words, which was once well-known by every school-age child in America, is about much more than just his inspiring utterance to the crowd which gathered to watch him hang. Like other school children of the 60s, I learned the story of Nathan Hale and memorized his last words without ever knowing the full story. Much to my surprise, I learned that Hale’s last words were not entirely his own.
Hale’s words were a variation on lines from a play entitled Cato: A Tragedy, by British author Joseph Addison. In Act 4, Scene 4, Cato, the play’s heroic defender of the Roman republic against the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, sees the body of his son Marcus, who was killed in battle. Looking at the body of his son, he said, “How beautiful is death when earned by virtue. Who would not be that youth? What pity is it that we can die but once to serve our country.”
The play, which was published in 1713, was very popular both in Britain and America and was performed in America countless times from 1730 until after the American Revolution. It had a particularly profound impact on key American leaders, including Patrick Henry whose famous quote “Give me liberty or give me death” was very likely inspired by the lines: “It is not now time to talk of aught/But chains or conquest, liberty or death.” The play was also a favorite of General George Washington who had it performed several times for the Continental Army.
As David McCullough pointed out in his excellent book 1776, Hale knew that every British officer would be familiar with the lines he paraphrased. They would also clearly understand Hale’s identifying the American cause with Cato’s struggle against tyranny, because British officers knew the history behind the play.
Marcus Porcius Cato, or Cato the Younger, was known as a man of unquestioned integrity and principle and for his devotion to the republican principles of freedom and virtue. As a leading figure in the Roman Senate, Cato fought to maintain the Roman republic against mob rule (majority rule) and later, against the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. Early in his career, Julius Caesar aligned himself with a faction within the Roman government which supported political and economic reforms supported by the redistribution of land. But Caesar’s victories in Rome’s civil war allowed him to abolish the republic and become a dictator.
When Cato opposed the dictatorship of Julius Caesar and the abolition of the Roman Republic, he was exiled from Rome. He, along with the army supporting the Roman Senate commanded by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, were defeated in North Africa by Caesar’s army at the battle of Thapsus. Rather than submit to the benevolence of a dictator, Cato committed suicide.
Nathan Hale’s words not only indicated his commitment to independence and liberty, but also reflected what he thought of himself as a man and how he believed a man should conduct himself, perhaps in the mold of the virtue, courage and commitment to liberty of the heroic Cato. No one can say whether he thought himself a hero or even a martyr for his cause. But if Hale’s final words are an indication, he almost certainly understood and accepted that fidelity to principles and duty to country sometimes demands the ultimate sacrifice.
Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry, George Washington and countless other great American heroes who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause of American liberty were inspired by heroic figures such as Cato the Younger.
In the context of the political battles taking place today to reform America, I wonder how many members of Congress have such heroes or how many of them have such attributes. Moreover, I wonder how many Americans today even know who Nathan Hale was and what he died for. One this is certain, America could use some leaders with the virtue and courage of Nathan Hale.
hat tip: Alliance Alert
My thanks to Kelly Antonczak, for bringing this powerful video from Willow Creek Leadership Summit to my attention. It’s not in my style particularly (how much I dislike rap, or anything like it, I can’t tell you), but I’m glad I stuck it out. Hankie alert. Parental guidance suggested.