Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Night I Met Abraham Lincoln

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. Gal 2:20

Some years ago Christian friends invited Tanya and me to their home to enjoy dinner and a fascinating chat, apparently with the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Was it really he, or was it an impersonator? For most of the evening, it was hard to tell. We were totally delighted, inspired, and intrigued. But who was he really?

Homer S. Sewell III was born in 1943 in Hinesville, Georgia. In 1964, while he was in the Army, he accepted a position at the White House with the Communications Agency. During Lyndon Johnson’s administration, he became closely involved with the First Family.

In 1975, while living in Orlando, Florida, Sewell responded to an ad asking for volunteers to talk to students in the local schools about any subject of interest. He offered to talk about his experiences in Washington, D.C. At the same time, he began to grow a beard. Local people told him that he bore a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He started delivering the Gettysburg Address as a part of his school program.

Since that time, Sewell has devoted his energy to one thing: becoming exactly like Lincoln. He studies diligently, comparing sources in order to distinguish between facts and legends. He dresses, talks, and behaves as Lincoln did. He freely speaks in the first person “I,” as if he really were Lincoln. To spend an evening with him is to feel that one has actually been in the presence of the real “Abe.” He travels widely to make presentations, because he wants everyone to know his hero. He challenges children to dream big, to live by “Honest Abe” values, and to avoid alcohol, other drugs, tobacco, and violence.

Dennis Boggs, a Metro Nashville school bus driver, is another Lincoln look-alike and imitator. Awhile back he was incensed when a local TV station aired a show which portrayed Lincoln as a quirky President who filled his mind with perverted thoughts about male Union soldiers. Boggs had to do something to defend his hero, so he printed protest placards and walked back and forth, by himself, in front of the TV station’s studios.

What about us? Will we as Christians be that intently focused on imitating Jesus Christ? Will we memorize His story in every detail? Will we be able to say with Paul: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me?” Will we find an audience and deliver His address to the lost? Will we stand up for Him, alone if necessary, when He is ridiculed or rejected? Will others, having been with us, feel that in a very real sense they have been in the presence of the Lord? As the hymn asks, I will ask, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” -- Cory Collins

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