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Read This Face

“The face of Abraham Lincoln is the most recognizable in American history – a face that today evokes widespread respect and even reverence.” This quote is taken from a remarkable book that I was given entitled, Lincoln Life-Size. The book is a photographic journey that visually recounts the life of Lincoln from 1846-1865. The images of Lincoln vividly record his distinctive moods and show the increasing lines of stress upon his face. You watch him age through these images and cannot help but notice the increasing pressure that the Civil War brought not only to his soul, but upon his face as well.

Lincoln’s eyes are what most people remember about him. Although he was often described as being homely in appearance, most everyone agreed that his eyes were beautiful – not in color – but in the way that tenderness shined through.

Lincoln knew and even joked about his very ordinary looks. He loved to tell the story of the day he was splitting rails beside his home when a man walked by with a gun and took dead aim at him. When Lincoln asked the man why he was pointing a gun toward him, the man replied that he had promised to shoot the first man that he met who was uglier than himself. Lincoln replied, “Judge for yourself, and if I am uglier than you, then blaze away.” Stories like this endeared Lincoln to those who were alive and heard his message as well as those who hear his message today. During the famed Lincoln/Douglas debate, his opponent, Stephen Douglas accused Lincoln of being ‘two-faced.’ Lincoln immediately won the debate and the crowd by replying; “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”

Lincoln often joked about his own face, but deep inside, he believed the face was a window to a person’s soul. He has been widely credited with saying: “After 40, every man is responsible for his own face.” This was Lincoln’s way of saying that life’s experiences and how you handle them will show in the character of your face.

When you look at Lincoln’s face, you can read the story of his life. There are the photos that show his wide range of emotions: compassion, tenderness, tenacity, stubbornness, resoluteness, tiredness, sadness, wisdom and eyes that were seeing things that only God could have revealed to him.

Here’s my challenge to you: Take a long, good look in your mirror and study your face. Every line, every crease, every crow’s foot and every laugh line is a study about your life. Your face and my face can tell our stories far better than words can. Put a smile on your face and let’s go face the day!

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