When Small(s) is Huge!

It’s exciting to see the redemptive genius of the Father, Son, and Spirit in our daily lives and it is equally, if not more exciting to peer into human history and see them at work in the lives of extraordinary individuals whose participation in the Shared Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit literally helps change the world.
Robert Smalls is one who stands out!
Robert was born into slavery 5 April, 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina. When he was a young man he was hired out to work in Charleston for the city and the wharf. He loved the sea and working hard, he rose from the lowly position of sail mender and rigger to pilot. As a “wheelman” on small vessels, Robert learned the Charleston Harbor quite well. He navigated the Charleston Harbor and surrounding waterways well enough to have complete control over the navigation of a ship. A skill that would serve him well later in life. At the age of 17 Robert fell in love with Hannah Jones and married her. Together they would raise two children after enduring the unspeakable tragedy of their son dying at age two.
During the American Civil War Smalls was forced to pilot the vessel, CSS Planter, for the Confederate Navy out of Charleston Harbor- a decision that would prove strategically unwise for the Confederacy.

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls (Image used under Section 107 (Fair Use) Copyright Act 1976

On May 12, 1862 Smalls and a few other slaves aboard the Planter executed a long-planned escape. They waited for the officers and other crewmen to take their leave ashore and quietly sailed out of the harbor. They used the Confederate Navy’s codebook to signal the fortifications they passed (including the infamous Fort Sumter) so that no one would be wise to their escape.
A man of integrity Smalls would not escape alone… he and his band of courageous freedom-fighters stopped at a pre-planned dock to pick his family and the families of the crewmen who were also escaping the oppression of slavery.
After securing their families on board Robert Smalls and his crewmen hoisted the white flag of surrender and sailed to the Union Fleet.
Upon surrendering the Confederate Vessel Smalls hoisted to the mast an American flag and delivered to the Union Navy the ship, its canons, and the most valuable prize- the Confederate Navy’s code book that the Union would later use to intercept and defeat Confederate Naval vessels.
The courage and fortitude to execute such a daring plan, risking life and limb for the cause of freedom has only one source… this sort of other-centered bravery and strength is found only in the life of the Triune God.
Robert Smalls went on to great fame as a member of the Union Navy and after the war achieved the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia.
After the Civil War Smalls moved back home to Beaufort, S.C. and purchased his former master’s home and cared for his master’s wife in the home through her elder years until her death.
Smalls went on to become a South Carolina State Congressman and a State Senator then in 1874 he was elected, on the Republican ticket, to the United States Congress. He helped pass civil rights legislation and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
His home in Beaufort, S.C. is now a National Historical Monument. A Godly and patriotic American, Robert Smalls, gives us all inspiration to reach above our station, to dream despite our situation, and to act with courage and conviction to right the world around us in whatever way we might.
It is not enough for the Father, Son, and Spirit to accomplish their mission alone. Jesus did not convert water to wine alone… the servants were invited to participate. The Lord did not raise the daughter of the High Priest in solitude… he allowed Peter, James, and John to see and experience his miracle. Even so the Triune God would not overcome the inhumanity of slavery without the extraordinary men and women like Robert Smalls.
Today you may feel insignificant. You may feel like the troubles of the world around you are too large for you to make a difference. It is my prayer that in the face of such giants you would feel Small(s)!

 

 

 

 

~Bill Winn

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