As a student of history, I love to know all the details - why someone achieved this, how this event happened, what influences and contributing factors came together to create an unforgettable moment in time. During a trip to Philadelphia in summer of 2009, I was able to discover an amazing account of history in the pages of a small and fragile book from 1831.
I first saw this special book in the Philadelphia Free Library, behind a high-security system designed to basically protect the book from anyone who wanted to see it. Graciously allowed to spend a few moments reading portions, I was amazed at the content revealed in this small preview. It was called "Life of Washington" by Anna C. Reed, and it proudly shared the life of our first president George Washington, but unlike the modern biographies of today, this book revealed a man of faith who lived it daily and applied it in his personal and public life.
I never knew Washington at the age of 15 had applied to join the British navy, and despite being accepted, chose a different path in order to not worry his anxious mother and to obey the biblical command to honor thy mother and father. Imagine if he had followed his own dream, and in doing so, how the history of our nation would be so different now.
I never knew he often traveled to a public spring where others gathered to take the waters in hope of improving their health, and while there, he would arrange to anonymously pay for bread for those who were sick and unable to buy it. He honored the Creator daily with earnest study and a faith seen by all who were around him, but also in small unseen actions like feeding those in need.
I thought of Washington while I toured Independence Park in Philadelphia during that trip. Faith was everywhere - but sadly, you won't discover it in many of the park service tours. But if you visit Christ Church, you will discover the importance of a faith foundation in the creation of our nation. There along the foundation's edge, you will discover the resting places of men like Washington who helped to forge principles of freedom and independence that still embody America today.
And in the church I found Washington's pew, and even Betsy Ross' pew (Washington had a better view; Betsy had to sit crowded by a huge pillar). These pews are still there and still in use today by the congregation. Faith still in action in a country forged by it.