The Promise that prepared Lincoln

Published 12:53 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

By Roger Campbell

Christian Columnist

February 20th, President’s Day, is a national holiday to honor both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but many will still remember these February Presidents on the dates they were born: Washington on the 22nd and Lincoln on the 12th

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Abraham Lincoln was a man of many firsts.

He was the first President to be elected without being a native of one of the thirteen original colonies.  He was also the first President to have a beard, to be a Republican, to hold a patent (No. 6469; a device that lifted ships over dangerous shoals through the use of buoyant air chambers), to be photographed at his inauguration.

At the age of nine, Lincoln made a promise to his dying mother that affected him throughout his life.

“I want you to live as I have taught you, to love your Heavenly Father and keep His commandments,” she had said.  And during Lincoln’s long hard road from poverty to the Presidency, he never forgot those words or his promise.

In his book, “The Man and His Faith,” G. Frederick Owen said of Lincoln: “God, to him, was not the God of the philosophers, but the God of Nancy Hanks Lincoln and of the Bible.  Religion to him was not a philosophy which he was to formulate, but a personal experience into which he was to enter.”

Lincoln’s childhood covenant with his mother kept him out of trouble in later years

and often had a positive impact on his character. Many a time, he said, he had found the courage to decline some tempting bribe or resist some compromise because at the moment of decision he would remember his promise to his mother.

Reading the Bible became a regular part of Lincoln’s life.

“I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible,” he once wrote, adding: “Take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man.”

In spite of his high standards, his honesty, his Bible reading and other religious activities, however, Lincoln seemed to be ever on a search for a relationship with God that he had not yet found.

This search for peace sent him into the counseling room at The First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois, during revival meetings and to the parsonage of The First Methodist Church to talk to Pastor Jacquess after his sermon on being born again.                      It moved him to seek help from the woman of faith who had been the nurse on duty when his son, Willie, died.  Still he was not satisfied.

Then came Gettysburg.   And President Abraham Lincoln’s entire night of prayer before that bloody battle began an experience that prepared him for what happened later.  According to this praying President, seeing the graves of the soldiers who fell at Gettysburg, moved him to absolute faith in his mother’s Lord.

No wonder the “Gettysburg Address,” has endured.  It was delivered by a man who tearfully said that he had now received “the best gift which God has given to man.”   

  Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.  A new book containing over one hundred of his best columns, “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is now available at your local or online bookseller.  Contact us at