If my hunch is correct you may not be familiar with the name Austin Gollahor. In fact, if you do some research on Austin you’ll likely find his last name spelled in more than one way. It was even spelled differently on two census forms in early America. But the tour guide at Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home assured me this is the correct spelling.
Austin and young Abe were classmates and childhood friends. Although I’ve done more than a little reading about Lincoln and hold him in high regard, I had not heard this story until recently. Sinking Spring Creek ran through the bottom-land farm where Abe’s family lived. The Gollahors were neighbors. From an early age the boys were involved in working with the cows, planting the corn, harvesting the crops.
But after chores were done in the late afternoon Abe and Austin knew the best way to cool off was by wading in Sinking Spring Creek. They were barely in school and neither could swim, but splashing around in the shallow creek provided all the refreshment they needed. Until one day, young Abe slipped into a deep spot the boys didn’t know was there. The water was over his head and none of the rocks provided a place for him to hold on to.
At first Austin thought he was playing, but in a moment it was evident that young Lincoln was in serious trouble. Austin scrambled up the bank and ripped a branch off a nearby tree. Struggling back to where Abe was floundering, he held the branch out as far as he could reach. Desperate, Abe grabbed the end of the branch and Austin began to tow him slowly to shallow water and safety.
Neither lad could know the key role Lincoln would play when, nearly half a century later, their country would teeter on the brink of destruction as the evil of slavery sought to destroy her. Neither could guess that God had used a youngster scarcely old enough to write his name to pluck Abraham Lincoln from an early death so he could be the strongest voice of reason in a time of desperate national destiny. What if Austin had not been there with his branch?
How about that youngster in your Bible class? Does she have a date with destiny that makes her a high value target on the enemy’s hit list? Could your fervent intercession be God’s “branch” to help her move to safety so she can be on schedule for the part God will ask her to play? How about that dad with an addiction that, without supernatural rescue, will probably drown? And that pastor who “gives a nice talk,” but in whose heart a major battle rages? God just might need your prayers as His branch. Let’s do this.
By Don Jacobsen