Poet Carl Sandburg wrote of former President Abraham Lincoln, “Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet…who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of a terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect.” “Steel and velvet” described how Lincoln balanced the power of his office with concern for individuals longing for freedom.
Only one person in all history perfectly balanced strength and gentleness, power and compassion. That man is Jesus Christ. In John 8, when confronted by the religious leaders to condemn a guilty woman, Jesus displayed both steel and velvet. He showed steel by withstanding the demands of a bloodthirsty mob, instead turning their critical eyes upon themselves. He said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. Then Jesus modeled the velvet of compassion by telling the woman, “Neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin.
Reflecting His “steel and velvet” in our own responses to others can reveal the Father’s work of conforming us to be like Jesus. We can show His heart to a world hungry for both the velvet of mercy and the steel of Justice. ((Our Daily Bread)
Another man who came before President Lincoln was the First President, George Washington. Washington’s Prayer for the United States of America appears on a plaque in St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City as well as at Pohick Anglican Church, Fairfax County, Virginia, where Washington was a vestryman from 1762 to 1784: The Pohick Episcopal Church is only 4.5 miles from my home in Springfield, VA.
The plaque states, “Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou will keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field.”
“And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Diving Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.”
“Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (America’s God and Country-William J. Federer)
After the American Army defeated the British Army at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, George Washington commanded the American Army until 1783 when he resigned his commission as the Commander and returned to Mount Vernon which in effect placed the military under the command of the Continental Congress which is now embedded in our Constitution. When King George III heard of this event, he remarked to Benjamin West the following: “that act closing and finishing what had gone before and viewed in connection with it, placed him in a light the most distinguished of any man living, and that he thought him the greatest character of the age.” These words are most often paraphrased to the following words: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world!”
Men and women of the 77th Armor, be men and women of Steel and Velvet: let us Stand Firm-“Insiste Firmiter” in our convictions, be brave in standing for the truth, and give mercy toward those who disagree with us.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT2) 21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm (Insiste Firmiter) for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
Hope to See You all in BOSTON July 8-12. Dick and Nancy are coordinating a great Reunion.