An 'Ordinary Saint' in Wartime

William Wilberforce saw two long charitable campaigns through, even in war's distracting shadow

Some see the GOP's strong showing in this week's national election as evidence of public support for a wartime president. Which begs the question: Is this truly wartime?

In some externals it may not seem so. No ground war rages. No biological or nuclear weapons have been unleashed. But a sense of foreboding looms. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the stock market has been unsteady, as uncertainty has palled our long-term plans. Many have struggled personally, facing dark fears, finding it hard to focus on the task at hand.

Focus. Persistence. Perseverance. Even at the best of times, as Oswald Chambers once said, "it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint." We need grace daily "to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people."

In a time that at least feels like wartime, such persistent holiness seems somehow more difficult. This, not only in daily life, but also in such ordinary charities as helping the poor, being salt in our schools and neighborhoods, and giving to ministries. The "causes" that are always with us seem now to require even more grace than before.

One place such grace may always be found is in the stories of the "ordinary saints" of the past. Some of these folks showed supernatural bravery in the face of extraordinary crises. But most were simply, by the grace of God, "exceptional in the ordinary things of life."

Such an ordinary saint whose life deserves to be reclaimed today is William Wilberforce.

You may recognize the name. He was the British evangelical Christian who, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, persisted in Parliament for several long decades, against every kind of opposition, to see the slave trade ...

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