“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” – Proverbs 29:2
A Snapshot of the Life of George Washington:
Born: Feb. 22, 1732, Bridges Creek, Virginia
Died: Dec. 14, 1799, Mount Vernon, Virginia
First president of the United States, 1789-96. Washington began military activity in 1752 when hostilities with England commenced. He married Martha Curtis (June 2, 1731-May 22, 1802), a widow, on Jan. 6, 1759, adopting her two children. He inherited his brother’s estate at age 20 and lived as a farmer from 1759-75, owning 216 slaves in 1773… He was made Commander-in-Chief of the Colonial army from 1775-81. Washington did not swear, observed the Lord’s Day, and prayerfully led his troops during the austere and bitter Valley Forge winter of 1777-78. An aristocrat, he distrusted the wisdom of average people, believing them incapable of self-government. Early on, he was an Episcopalian, but upon his presidency and residence in NYC he was baptized by John Gano at the FBC there. When he was sworn in as first president he added, “so help me God” and kissed the Bible. Washington, a Federalist, won both elections (1789, 1792) unopposed. He laid the cornerstone of the capital on Sept 18, 1793. He was 6’4″ and weighed 225 pounds. His annual salary was $25,000. He was a redhead and never went to high school. Before death he had a dull sore throat, and doctors bled him twice. He said as he died, “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)
A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:
Few would argue against our desperate need for faithful and humble political leaders. The United States has a long history of leaders who feared and trusted in God. By no means perfect, many of these men sought to establish a nation in a way that honored God. One man distinguished himself as a leader, soldier, statesman, Christian, and man of integrity – George Washington.
This remarkable man lived one of the most consequential lives in all of history. However, Washington exhibited one thing many great leaders neglected; Washington depended on God for strength. True leaders understand the necessity of looking to the Lord for His guidance. God promises to exalt the humble and bring down the proud (James 4:7-9, 1 Peter 5:7-9).
In the winter of early 1778, Washington and his men endured a brutal winter at the infamous Valley Forge. Washington was being quartered in the home of Isaac Potts. It was well-known how often Washington would retire to his room for “communion with the throne of grace when oppressed by the trials inseparable to his exalted position.” During one of the darkest periods of Valley Forge, we find the following account:
Isaac Potts, relates that one day, while the Americans were encamped at Valley Forge, he strolled up the creek, when, not far from his dam he heard a solemn voice. He walked quietly in the direction of it, and saw Washington’s horse tied to a sapling. In a thicket nearby was the beloved chief upon his knees in prayer, his cheeks suffused with tears. Like Moses at the bush, Isaac felt that he was upon holy ground, and withdrew unobserved. He was much agitated, and on entering the room where his wife was, he burst into tears. On her inquiring the cause, he informed her of what he had seen, and added: If there is anyone on this earth whom the Lord will listen to, it is George Washington; and I feel a presentiment that under such a commander there can be no doubt of our eventually establishing our independence and that God in his providence has willed it so.
When victory did come, the colonies wanted to make Washington a king; the General refused. Instead, Washington was elected as the first President of the United States. Upon leaving office, Washington again expressed his unabated dependence upon God and He alone for the young nation. In his final address, Washington said:
I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination & obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field—and finally that He would most graciously be pleas’d to dispose us all to do Justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves, with that Charity, humility & pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion and without an humble immitation of Whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
A Suggestion for Further Reading…
The Bulletproof George Washington – David Barton, 2002
George Washington: A Biography – Washington Irving, 1994
Washington at Valley Forge – J.M. Butler – 1858