Monday, November 4, 2013

Have You Met...

...William Wilberforce?

Maybe you saw the highly rated movie, Amazing Grace.  (If not, I highly recommend it.)  I know I'd heard of him before I saw it, but I didn't know anything about him.  I've learned even more from the chapter dedicated to him in 7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness.

He was, with the Lord's help (he'd be the first to give the glory to God), instrumental in the abolition of the slave trade, and then slavery in England, decades before the Civil War in the United States.  

He wasn't a Christian until he was an adult and already in Parliament.  He struggled with how to mesh his new and strong faith with his political life.  He gave up gambling and men's clubs to concentrate on God's plan for his life.  After much prayer and guidance sent by God, much of it through the amazing people he encountered in his life, he saw that he could best work for God by staying in politics. He zeroed in on 2 purposes for his life: To abolish the slave trade and reform the manners of society.

By manners, I don't mean which fork to use at dinner, but much greater issues. There were big divides in England's society of the time.  The "upper crust" of society thought the poor 'deserved' their station in life and to help them would be against what some now would refer to as 'karma.' Drinking and carousing were major sport, as were sexual exploits.  25% of women were forced into prostitution.  Extensive child labor was common. Anyone who truly believed in God and lived with any sort of faith, other than attending church on Sundays for social reasons, was looked upon as a fanatic.  

Wilberforce became a role model.  He eschewed immoral behavior, and unlike most men of his time, gave time to his family and actually played with his children.  He had a heart for anyone who was unfairly used or abused. In Parliament and other dealings in regard to his feelings about slavery, he was able to stay above the fray, respecting his opponents and understanding that the whole society, including himself, had been part of the problem.  He received grace from God, and gave it to those around him. This opened doors and helped him be heard, and resulted in great changes in England and the world.

This is just a quick recap. I have not done his life, nor the book's description of it, justice here.  

I want to remember what I learned from the life and example of William Wilberforce.  In fact, I want to know more about how he lived his faith on a daily basis, so plan to read the book, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.  (It was written while or after the movie was in production, but is a more comprehensive and accurate biography, not based on the movie.)

I think the way the life of Wilberforce has grabbed my attention, and the revelation I wrote about last week are related, each helping me better understand the other, and give me a new view of the purpose and/or direction of my life.

 - What I want to take away from his story is the ability to live for the Lord in every word and deed of my life, like he did.  --To do everything to the glory and honor of God. 

 - I want practice grace; to avoid judging those who don't agree with me, but show them love, with genuine regard and interest, and understand that they may not be convicted in the same areas.
 - I want to remember that it's okay not to do EVERYthing, but to concentrate only on those things which God intended especially for me.  

As a "Jill-of-all-trades," knowing what I should choose is difficult in itself.  One thing I do know, though, is that I can let go of feeling guilty over things others may want me to do, that just aren't what I need to do right now.

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