The Power Of One

July 4, 1998

Isaiah 45:5-6 – I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
1 Kings 19:10 – Elijah replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

How often, we like Elijah, try to cop out of our responsibilities, asking, "What can one person do?" Two hundred and twenty-two years ago, the Congress of the United States of America was gathered to debate the Declaration of Independence. On the first vote, nine of the thirteen colonies voted for independence; Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted no; New York abstained; and the delegation from Delaware was split one to one. Everyone knew that a decision on independence had to be unanimous, so Congress adjourned to the following day. To break the Delaware deadlock, a rider was sent to fetch Caesar Rodney, their third delegate, who had been urgently called home, eighty-nine miles away. Leaving his farm at 2 a.m., he braved a pitch-black stormy night that turned roads into quagmires and normally-fordable streams into swollen torrents, and arrived just as the vote was being taken. Exhausted, he was barely able to speak: "As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence, my own judgement concurs with them. I vote for independence." The Delaware deadlock was broken and the other delegates agreed, except for New York, which abstained, making the vote twelve to none. The sacrifice of one person had made a decisive difference in the history of the nation. Samuel Adams followed the vote with these words: "We have this day restored the Sovereign, to Whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven, and … from the rising to the setting sun, may His Kingdom come."

As the people of the United States of America celebrate today the anniversary of that Declaration of Independence, let each of us, in whatever country we live, resolve, in obedience to God, to do what we can to promote the cause of righteousness and truth, "so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides the Lord." One person can make a difference.

Prayer: Lord, we know not what the outcome of our obedience might be, in your sovereign plan. May we faithfully do what comes to our hand to do, that your Kingdom may come. Amen.

About the author:

Robin Ross <rross@telus.net>
Mission, British Columbia, Canada

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