It is Exemplified by the Life of Abraham Lincoln—Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones.
THE LESSON—That the very things which are obstacles in the way of many should be their stepping stones to the higher life.
The life of Abraham Lincoln is so fraught with good lessons that it is difficult to select
"Every one of us is anxious to be a success. [Draw the word 'Success' in red, and the rays of light in orange.]
"But many of us are discouraged and disheartened by seeing before us so many big 'ifs' in the way that we give up trying to gain the height toward which our eyes were once lifted. [Draw the wall, with the rocks obstructing the way; put in the letters 'I' and 'F,' and indicate the pathway. Your drawing will now resemble Fig. 19.]
"Some of us may say, 'IF I had not been born in such an obscure place or in such an obscure family, I might have been a great success.'
"Another might say, 'IF my father had only had the means to give me a lift at the right time, I might have been a great success.'
"Another might say, 'IF I had only had the chance to go to school when I was a boy, I might have obtained the education necessary to make me a great success.'
"One other might say, 'IF I could only work out my plans without meeting with the discouraging opposition of those who ought to help me and co-operate with me, I might be a great success.'
"Still another might say, 'IF I had only had the opportunities that other men have had, I might have been a great success.'
"And so we might stand and look with discouraged hearts at the 'ifs' before us and stop dead still.
"Well, now, let us look into this a little. Let us search the Scriptures and find a word of comfort. But search as we may, we find the word 'Success' there only once. Why only once? Probably because the Bible has a much bigger and better word, and that word is 'Life.' 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,' says the Master; and again, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life.' This wonderful word was often on His lips. To Him, success was life. To live was all that earth could desire. To live was to see in these stones—[Indicate the stones in the drawing]—not stumbling-blocks but stepping-stones to success. [Add the letters 'L' and 'E,' completing the word 'Life.'] When you and I see the true life, then will all our 'ifs' depart.
"Abraham Lincoln was one who saw these stones before him. How did he look upon them?
"The obscurity of his birth was no 'if' to him—it was the foundation of his noble character.
"The poverty of his early years was no 'if' to him—it was the thing which caused him to appreciate every blessing of after life.
"The denial of his means to an education when a boy was no 'if' to him—it caused his maturer mind to hunger after learning, even in his later years.
"The bitter opposition which he met throughout his tempestuous political career was no 'if' to him—it softened his nature and drew him nearer to the God of love in whom he placed his trust.
"No one should envy him his opportunities, for he made every one of them himself, just as you or I may do.
"It would seem to me, as I look at the life of this great man, that the secret of his success lay in his determination to make every stumbling block a stepping stone. In order to do it, he held steadfastly to the hand of God, when, it seemed, all other friends had failed. It was then that he said, 'I do the best I know—the very best I can—and I mean to keep right on doing so until the end.'
"God has not yet given us wings to fly with, but He has given us feet to climb with, and if we use them for all they are worth, we can climb near enough to heaven's gate to step right in when the summons come.
"Boys and girls, men and women, the opportunity for success—for Life—is given to each one of us, just as truly as it was given to Abraham Lincoln. We could not have taken his place. Perhaps he could not have taken yours or mine. It is for each of us to work out his own success, just as he did."