Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Letter From The President

Recently, in the bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln's birth, a letter sent by the famous president was sold for £36,000.
Big deal, you might say. What's so special about that? Well, what's special about this letter is not so much who sent it but who it was sent to.
You see, this letter, delivered nearly 150 years ago, was sent to an eight-year-old schoolboy.
The story is an interesting one. As a young boy, George Patten was with his journalist father when they both met the commander-in-chief. When he went back to school George excitedly reported the encounter to his classmates and teacher - but nobody took him seriously.
Mocked by his disbelieving classmates George stuck to his story to such an extent that his exasperated teacher wrote to the president. And back, by return, came a hand-written, signed letter.
It read: "Whom it may concern, I did see and talk with master George Evans Patten, last May, at Springfield, Illinois. Respectfully, A Lincoln."
What's so precious about this letter is that it was sent just two weeks after the president's inauguration. At such a time, having just become the most powerful man in the nation at a critical moment in its history, I'm sure Lincoln had many worthy things he could have devoted his energies to. I'm sure there were many important documents waiting to be read and signed, people to meet and places to go, but it says something about the man that he recognised the importance of this simple plea for help and responded, settling all doubt. Now, nobody could ever say again that George Patten had not met with Lincoln.
The parallel for us is simple yet profound. No matter how unimportant we may feel, our prayers before God carry the same weight as those uttered by the great and powerful. No matter how personal our request may seem, God never writes it off as unimportant or not worth considering. God, like Lincoln, resists the modern tendency to lump people into categories and instead sees the value of each individual. And, like Lincoln, each individual gets his undivided attention and a personal response.
So next time you get down to pray, remember Lincoln's letter and realise that the author of all time and space just put down his pen for a moment to listen to you.

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