The country lost an elder statesman widely acclaimed as an American hero with the passing of John Lewis on July 17, 2020. I shared Sunday evening at our outdoor life group about my recollection of him from election night, November 4, 2008, one of the moments in my life which gave me the courage to keep on fighting for what I believe in. It was a historic night for our country. I recall the emotion many of us felt. I remember the incredibly gracious concession speech given by John McCain.
But what I'll never forget was the interview that night with Georgia Congressman John Lewis. He was born the son of sharecroppers in 1940. While growing up on a farm, he attended segregated schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that he heard over the radio, and still a teenager, he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
He was only 23 when he was severely beaten by Alabama State Troopers as he and others tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on what became known as Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. John Lewis was arrested nearly forty times. He suffered physical attacks and serious injuries while he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement and to the philosophy of nonviolence. He experienced the worst this country had to offer, that hopefully nobody in this country will ever have to experience again. And yet, through all of that time, he maintained his faith. Now here he was, being asked what it meant to have witnessed the election of an African American as President of the United States.
And I remember, in the middle of that interview, he just stopped, looked at the interviewer, and said, just out of the blue, "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him." And he stopped. He quoted the first half of Romans 8:28. And then John Lewis said to the interviewer, "But sometimes it takes him a while." That's when I just lost it. "But sometimes it takes him a while." And later that night, John Lewis watched as the first African American to be elected President of the United States of America gave his acceptance speech.
I couldn't even begin to understand or appreciate the gravity or the significance of this moment for John Lewis, or for African Americans in this country or around the world. Because John Lewis understood, in a way that I will never understand, that when life is uncertain, God is not. John Lewis could say with absolute confidence that our God works -- is active, is present, is evident, in all things for those who love him. Even though life is uncertain, God is not. This is still God's world.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas