On Memorial Day we remember the great sacrifices of the men and women who gave their fortunes, their youth, their health, and their lives to the cause of freedom. This weekend, give gratitude and thanks for their sacrifices which poignantly, if imperfectly, illustrate the greatest sacrifice of God himself through Jesus Christ for the freedom of mankind.
I would like to echo these words from our nation’s founder and first President, George Washington, as he prayed:
Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great creator of heaven & earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between thy glorious majesty and me, thy poor creature, the work of thy hand, between thy infinite power, and my weakness, thy wisdom, and my folly, thy eternal Being, and my mortal frame, but, O Lord, I have set myself at a greater distance from the by my sin and wickedness and humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature and the many rebellions of my life… I humbly beseech thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins, for the sake of thy dear Son, my only Savior, J.C.*, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; be pleased to renew my nature and write thy laws upon my heart, and help me to live, righteously, soberly, and godly in this evil worlds [sic]; make me humble, meek, patient and contented, and work in me the grace of thy holy spirit… Help all in affliction or adversity—give them patience and a sanctified use of their affliction, and in thy good time deliverance from them; forgive my enemies, take me unto thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask for in the name & for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
This prayer from Washington was found in his field journal which was with him during his time served as general of the continental army. Washington was remembered as a man of prayer and devotion. Other of Washington’s prayers and details about his spiritual life can be found in George Washington’s Prayers by Robert Pelton.
I chose this prayer because at Mud Creek Baptist Church this Sunday Dr. Mathis will be preaching on the great exchange Jesus offered to us by His death on the cross. I believe Washington’s confession and hope firmly set on Jesus illustrates our greatest need individually, corporately (as the body of Christ), and nationally—to confess in humility our sin and cast ourselves in faith upon Jesus Christ.
We should celebrate the sacrifices of many on this Memorial Day. We should express gratitude to those who have served and are serving our nation to preserve freedom. But let us remember these are but illustrations of the great and glorious sacrifice of Jesus for our freedom. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
What a truth!
What an exchange!
What a memorial sacrifice illustrated on this day of national celebration that should drive us to genuine spiritual worship!
* J.C. was used commonly by Washington as shorthand for Jesus Christ.