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The Original Gorilla!

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Have you pretty much given up on our politicians in Washington, D.C? Do you feel it is a hopeless cause that any of them are going to really change their talking points, their behavior and their willingness to work together with opposing party members on the other side of the aisle? 

If you truly feel that way, then it sounds like you are not giving the Holy Spirit any wiggle room to touch hearts and to change the lives of politicians in Washington, D.C. Is the Holy Spirit just a mostly forgotten member of the Trinity who makes an appearance at Baptisms and Confirmations and on Pentecost Sunday, of course, and then just sits back and relaxes?

On this February 12th, the Birthday of Abraham Lincoln, I’d like to take a hard look at the Holy Spirit in action and see what the Holy Spirit does in our world. Abraham Lincoln was elected to the Illinois State Legislature in 1834 at the age of 25. By that time Lincoln already had a political enemy, Edwin Stanton. He hated Lincoln and treated Lincoln with total contempt. 

For many years Edwin Stanton would say to newspaper reporters that Lincoln was a “low cunning clown” and “the original gorilla.” Stanton said again and again that it was ridiculous for explorers to go to Africa to capture a gorilla “when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois.”

The Holy Spirit had to be at work in Abe Lincoln’s heart. He never responded once to such slander. He never retaliated in the least. And when, as President, Lincoln needed a Secretary of War, he selected Edwin Stanton for the most important Cabinet post during the Civil War. When his Republican colleagues protested and asked Lincoln how he could make such a terrible choice, he replied, “Because he is the best man for the job.”  The Holy Spirit was at work.

Years later on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot and killed Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. As Lincoln’s body was being carried off to another room, Stanton came, stood there and looked down on the silent, rugged face of the man he had called a gorilla for many years. As the tears poured from Stanton’s eyes and the Holy Spirit touched his heart, he uttered, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.” 

You can short-change the work and the power of the Holy Spirit if you would like. A much better choice would be to work with the Holy Spirit as Abraham Lincoln did, as the Spirit touches and changes hearts, even in Washington, D.C. today. Most of all, let the Holy Spirit touch your heart!

Thanks to the Library of Congress for the picture. 


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