“I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence”
-George Washington, in a letter to John Augustine Washington, 1755
My personal belief is that, if you have been designed by God to fulfill a specific mission, neither heaven, nor hell, nor anyone or anything in between will be able to remove you from the earth until you have done so. You will get there and you will do it.
The Old Testament man ‘after God’s own heart’, David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, had a few close calls. Further down in this article, we’ll get to that. Right now, though, let me tell you about some of George Washington’s escapes from death.
1} In Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington (published in 1860), Martha Washington’s grandson, (basing his articles on information gleaned from two of Washington’s childhood cousins), relates an account of a teen-aged George’s perhaps foolhardy encounter with a horse so vicious that no one could even bridle, let alone ride it. Deciding to test his stamina and skill against the steed, George let his friends struggle to tie it up and force a bit into it’s mouth, then managed to mount the animal. Once released, the horse went berserk. The grandson’s account indicates that George’s young friends began to regret their actions and fear that his clash with the violent animal was “likely to be fatal…”
And it was, but not to George…
The horse “summoning all his powers…reared, and plunged with tremendous violence, burst his noble heart, and died in an instant.”
(Note: While I realize that this story cannot be proven to be absolutely true 1} the actual point of the author’s account had to do with George Washington’s honesty; falsifying facts seems unlikely and 2] there has been medical corroboration that such sudden equine death is possible.)
2} The 1750’s saw the struggle between the French and the British (colonists) for the control of the Ohio Valley river system located in western Pennsylvania and Virginia. Washington, at that time having been appointed as Adjutant to the Virginia militia (link), became involved in diplomatic and military efforts to prevent the French from gaining possession of the Valley. In an ongoing attempt to thwart a French victory, in the spring of 1755, General Braddock, with Washington as his aide, led 1,700 British and colonial troops against the French forces at Fort Duquesne. In Washington’s own words, the British were “scandalously beaten.” He tells us, as well, in a letter to his brother recorded in Papers of George Washington (Colonial Series, Vol.1) that during the fray, he took four bullets through his coat, and two horses were shot out from under him.
General Braddock, however, was killed.
3} About a week before the Declaration of Independence was signed, an American soldier named Thomas Hickey was hanged for his part in a mutinous scheme against the Revolutionary cause. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution cites Hickey as conspiring to deliver General Washington to the British. Possibly an exaggeration. However the following link does indicate the possibility of such an intention, at least. (This man was a sentinel in the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, a unit formed to protect General Washington, his papers, and the Continental Army’s cash funds.)
Sergeant Thomas Hickey Court-Martial: 1776 – Suggestions For Further Reading
In my own life, I sometimes wonder if I’m wasting time, investing my energy and effort in one area when perhaps I should be directing it into another. Am I prioritizing properly? Am I even in God’s will? Will I die before I’ve accomplished the things that matter? What, in fact, are some of those things, for me? When I stop and think about events and patterns such as the ones listed above, however, I am reminded that the God in Whom I believe “gets you there”. He protects you from that which would steal your destiny. He protects you from yourself! if necessary. In Psalm 138, the aforementioned David wrote that the Lord would accomplish (or complete) what concerned him. That same principle held true for George Washington. He “got there”. Perhaps it will hold true for you, as well…
Speaking of David, in Part 2 of this post I’ll be examining some of his brushes with death, also. I hope you’ll return for the conclusion.