Back in “the day” as my children say, as a young man, husband, father as well as Christian, I read a book that, for me, was revolutionary. I was a product of a non-Christian home and government schools that even through the ’60s and ’70s had expunged references to Christianity from our history textbooks.
Like most of my peers, I was aware that our Founding Fathers were patriots but had never been told of the deep, personal Christian faith of so many of them. Then it happened.
In the early ’80s, I bought and read “The Light and the Glory,” authored by Rev. Peter Marshall and David Manuel. It rent the veil of the secularists and opened my eyes to the truth – our nation had deep Christian roots and heritage in the lives, documents and actions of those who risked all to hand this precious gift to us.
Little did I think I would have the privilege of working with and getting to know Peter on a personal level and the great passion for our Lord and for this country he displayed as a mirror of his father and mother. His sudden home going last week was another profound passing of a hero of our times, in the mold of D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell and other such godly men.
We without doubt face the most important election of our lifetime. (It’s not a little ironic that Peter shared with us at a meeting we held before the 1996 election that he realized he kept saying this before every election … and realized he was right every time).
Let me quote Peter again: “Every election is the most important election of our lifetime.” However, I’m not going to pontificate about that as there are many much brighter minds than I on that track. This is a story of two Peters and you.
I’d like to talk to the “average Joe” for a moment. You might be a “tea partier,” a pastor, a young husband and/or father, young wife and/or mother who doesn’t have a “pedigree,” phenomenal credentials or golden tongue. What difference can you make?
Consider the story of a young Scotsman named Peter Marshall living in 1924 among the heather and mills of Coatbridge, near Glasgow, with none of the above going for him, only a calling from God to pastoral ministry. Working, saving and scrimping, he came to the United States to pursue that calling, working digging ditches before entering seminary.
In only 10 years, he was pastor of the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., followed by two terms as chaplain of the U.S. Senate and one of the most endeared men in our nation’s history. His eloquence was profound but his power was speaking truth that cut to the heart of matters and of men, such as this question from his sermon, “If”:
What has America to give the rest of the world? If only grain or money or clothing or armaments … then we have lost the war and the peace … and our own souls. Ours is a Covenant Nation … The only surviving nation on earth that had its origins in the determination of the Founding Fathers to establish a settlement “… to the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
You should read the book “A Man Called Peter,” and then watch the movie of the same name. I promise your life will not be the same. In 1940, a son was born who was given his name and even after losing his beloved father at the age of 9, followed in his father’s ministry footsteps to carve out his own role in impacting our nation.
Peter, the son, was a godly man, husband, father, pastor, author and speaker who passed on his rich heritage by uncovering the true wealth of our nation’s history. I remember listening to him speak at a church and almost shivering with the cold at Valley Forge – he had his father’s Scottish gift of storytelling.
As I got to know and spend time with Peter, it was evident that he carried a great weight often accompanying the “blessing” of such a famous name and heritage, but he carried it gladly. His book, his passion and his perseverance inspired me, and as God amazingly opened doors for me to meet and spend time with the past champions mentioned above, I was in awe for one reason.
I had no right to be in the presence of these great men. I was an average guy who God had called to the battle and pushed into places that kept me thinking of the old term “a penny amongst silver dollars.”
The bottom line is that Peter Marshall, the elder, was an ordinary man who God raised up. Peter Marshall, the son, carried that baton diligently and the same God who made something extraordinary out of ordinary material will do the same for you.
He may not call you to walk the halls with such men, but I assure you with all my heart that if you just step forward and follow what God called you to do without fear and hesitation, you will be amazed at where he takes you. Consider the closing words of “The Light and the Glory”:
It can still happen. Our forefathers have broken the trail for us, and shown the way. Their call is our call. If just a fraction of us Americans choose to go the Covenant Way, it will suffice. Then each of our lives will be filled with the light of Him who said, “I am the light of the world.” And if the candlepower of each covenanted Christian were to be joined to the whole, the result would truly be the blaze of glory which John Adams foresaw.
Peter, I’ll see you in the morning.