Back to Work!

      I love the story of Abraham Davenport, a godly man, a true patriot; one of the forefathers that we should all be imitating. It certainly doesn't look like we are. 

Davenport was the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives in the years just after the American Revolution; and one of the stories about him took place during the famous "Dark Day of 1780". John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem about what happened that day; John F. Kennedy once remarked about it in a speech. 

It came suddenly, inexplicably, in the late morning hours of May 19; it happened all over New England, not just Connecticut. It was observed from as far north as Portland, Maine, all the way to New Jersey, which is beyond the borders of New England, actually. 

 The "Dark Day" actually lingered for a couple of weeks, and it was dark indeed! Joseph Plumb Martin, in his memoirs, describes it charmingly:

 

"...it was very dark when I was then in New Jersey, so much so that the fowls went to their roosts; the cocks crew and the whip-poor-wills sung their usual (evening) serenade; the people had to light candles in their houses to enable them to see to carry on their usual business; the night was as uncommonly dark as the day was." 1

 

No one at the time knew exactly why this happened. A few people called it a "dense fog" or "low-hanging clouds";  others thought they smelled soot in the air and blamed it on a forest fire somewhere to the west. Today, this sounds correct, except for the fact that it was raining that week. There is also no evidence of any major eclipse at that time.

But most people just called it "apocalyptic"! On the darkest day of them all, all of Puritan New England began to panic. People were saying that Judgment Day was coming; that the "end" was soon to follow. 

Up in Connecticut on that day, the state House of Representatives had convened as usual and, when the sense of panic swept through the House, some of the representatives called for an immediate adjournment, so they could all go home, get their houses in order, and wait for the "End". 

And that's when Abraham Davenport stood up—God bless 'im!—and spoke his only famous words: 

"Gentleman, whether the Day of Judgment is approaching or not, I do not know. But if it is not, then there is no reason to adjourn; and if it is, I for one wish to be found doing my duty. I, therefore, request that candles be brought in and that we all get back to work." 2

Don't you love it? What a great perspective on life! 

You do know—don't you?—that that is exactly how we, as Christians, must live! Rather than fearing these frightful times and letting them paralyze us, you and I are called to be faithful until Christ returns. Instead of being alarmed by the darkness around us, we're supposed to get "back to the work"  that God's called us to do. And—believe me!—will we ever shine like lights when we do!  

We're supposed to be living like Abraham Davenport! Listen dear faithful ones: God hasn't called us to cluck our tongues at the sins of the world around us or grow despondent when things fall apart. No, not at all! God has called us to "stand in the gap"; pray for the lost, and reach this world for Jesus Christ.  

Remember the other "Abraham"? The original one? Praying for the lost in his town of Sodom? Oh, he wrestled and negotiated with the Lord that night! Gen 18: 22-25  He was, in fact, wrestling over the very Judgment itself. And I believe that Lot and his family were saved from that awful Judgment by this man's prayers alone! 

You and I must do the same!

Remember Samuel? He once explained that it would be a sin for him to do anything less: 

"Far be it from me," he said—and he was speaking to a rebellious people, too; people who didn't even want him anymore!—but...

 "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord, by failing to pray for you." 1 Sam 12: 23

How beautiful! What a true man of God! 

God blesses us when we do this, dear ones; so do not despair! He has called you, as a follower of Christ, to pray for the lost, preach the good news, and build His church! Surrounded as we are by such a sinful culture, we cannot afford to be diverted! Let us be found "doing our duty"! Or as Jesus, Himself has put it: 

 

"Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down...watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Lk 21: 34, 36

 

Last week's FightNight was so good! And, if you ask me, it's the best example yet, of truly "doing our duty" and getting "back to work"! How good to still be freely worshipping with you every Sunday like we do! 

Oh good!—Saul this Sunday, the "persecutor", and flat on his face too! Gotta love it! 

See you there!                                       RAS

 

1. Martin, Joseph Plumb The Adventures of a Revolutionary Soldier, 1830, ch. 6.

2. Quoted by John Greenleaf Whittier in the preface to his poem "Abraham Davenport", The Atlantic Monthly (May 1866).

 

Pray and Don’t Give Up!
"Counted Worthy"