28 August 2005

…on seeing “large things largely.”

It is to our advantage to have both mentors and protégées in life; that is, one or more (usually older and wiser) who are models to us in conduct and character and who can give us advice and guidance, and also those (perhaps younger and less experienced) whom we can give counsel and be an encouragement to. Those relationships of witness and of being witnessed to aren’t always personal. One of my recently acquired “mentors,” gained through the reading of his biography during long hours in the hospital at my wife’s bedside”, is John Adams—the patriot, statesman, and our Nation’s first Vice President and second President. In Adam’s life of incredible personal sacrifice, his abiding love for his wife and family, his steadfastness and integrity of character, and his sense of duty to public service draw my admiration and cause must reflection; but it was his devotion and accountability to Christ and his awareness of and trust in God’s providential ordering of times and circumstances that most captivate my thoughts.

As Adams led the process toward declaring independence from Britain, it was said of him that he “saw large things largely.” In other words, as he navigated the “trees” of great endeavors, he always did so with the “forest” clearly in focus. Adams was able to do that primarily because of his Biblical worldview (even then in the minority) and because of his awareness of and duty toward Providence. That perspective on “things large” came through knowing the Scriptures as well as through reading widely. From “his treasured books” and reading he knew history, the lessons from the history of nations, and God’s providential hand in history. Even at age 25, he recognized that a man could not apply wisdom, knowledge, and virtue “unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.” Let us all take a lesson from John Adams, endeavor to understand the “large things” of life under the hand of Providence through good books and the Good Book, and take up and read!

(Originally published in DeiLight in June 2004)