It felt as though the world drew a collective breath when the news broke.

Nelson Mandela, at age 95, was gone.

The word “hero” doesn’t suffice.

 

Robben Island, from Signal Hill
Robben Island, from Signal Hill
The view of Robben Island, from Lion's Head
The view of Robben Island, from Lion’s Head

 

I shudder to think what could have happened to the nation of South Africa, had God not used the life of Mandela to alter its course.

It was grace, really.  The grace and mercy of an Almighty and sovereign God, to protect South Africa from what “could have been” in the aftermath of apartheid, and guide it toward a path of peace.

 

Sarah and Kent 105
Table Mountain, from Robben Island
Sarah and Kent 106
An altar of remembrance in the limestone quarry where Mandela toiled for 13 years

 

And I couldn’t help but wonder as the riots in Ferguson broke out recently, “Where are the Mandelas?  Where are the ones who will change the course of this hatred and rage?  Where are the leaders who are admired, respected, honored by the people — who will speak humbly and speak peace?  Where are the ones who will lead the reconciliation?”

 

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Signal Hill

 

And while the Lord most certainly does use His servants to change the course of history, only His Spirit can change the hearts of men.

It’s right to honor our leaders, to respect our elders, to pray for wise counselors — but more than any earthly hero, we’re to honor the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

***

The tribute that moved me to tears was this performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir in a Woolworth’s grocery store in Pretoria, two days after Madiba’s death.

Related Posts: South Africa – A Photographic Tribute & Mandela (a summary of tributes)

4 thoughts on “when a leader is honored {day 19 :: honor}

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