On this date in 1799 (December 14), George Washington uttered these words then died. “Father of mercies, take me unto thyself.”
Known as the “Father of our country,” there are many good lessons and examples we can glean from his life. On the other hand, there are several others lessons we can garner from his death. Let’s look at a couple of them.
First, even in the darkest of times, while walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we find Washington faithfully trusting in God. While on his death bed he was heard to say, “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go” and “I should have been glad, had it pleased God, to die a little easier, but I doubt not it is for my good.”
In the hardest and most trying of times, will we, like the first President of the United States, hold firmly and faithfully to the God of the Bible or will we consider making compromises and alliances with the world? Will we trust that extreme difficulties are for our own good or will we question God’s sovereignty and look to our own comfort? Following the example of Jesus, we may ask for a particular cup to be removed from us; but only also echoing His words to the Father, “Nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done.”
Secondly, look at what brought Washington to such a weak state and to eternity’s door. Primarily, he caught a chill riding horseback several hours in the snow while inspecting his Mount Vernon farm. Secondarily, the doctors were called in because the next morning his chill had developed into “acute laryngitis.”
The common treatment in that day was to bleed a person (to let the “bad blood” out). Although a common practice, it was based on a false truth. Actually, they cut his arm to bled him heavily four times; with such blood loss it would be nearly impossible to fight his cold and live. Believing a false truth, just because it’s popular or those in authority say it’s a good thing, is dangerous.
This lesson from Washington’s death should propel us to the study of God’s Word. Is there anything we believe which does not align with the whole counsel of God? We live in a culture and in a church culture which is based more on feeling than fact. That is very dangerous. The Word of God must be our final authority regardless of how we feel about something.
We urge you to have devotions, thereby getting to know the God of the Bible and Jesus, the One whom the Father has sent. Read and meditate on the Word. When you pray, pray to truly know Him rather than just hopping on a request line. Diligently seek to be led by the Spirit instead of being led by the flesh.
One great resource for personal or family devotions is the Family Worship Bible Guide. It gives great insights and asks probing questions that will build you up. It’s very affordable and can be purchased here. (What a great Christmas gift!)
Scripture tells us that the life is in the blood; believing a false truth about bloodletting killed Washington’s body. In spiritual matters false truth destroys the soul. If deeply looking into the Word is foreign to you, it may be difficult at first; but stay with it. As our spiritual diet and devotion develops it will transform us and heighten our awareness of the false. As we seemingly stumble along in holiness, eventually our spiritual legs will walk with boldness in grace and truth.
Let us take to heart the exhortation of holiness writer J.C. Ryle, “Let us seek friends that will stir us up about our prayers, our Bible reading, our use of time, our souls, and our salvation.”
Don’t look to the world for answers; they are found in the Word.
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