I will always remember standing before the Magna Carta, one of the most significant documents ever produced.
This charter of liberties, first created in 1215, placed England’s King John under the rule of law and served as the foundation for the English system of common law. America’s founding fathers considered the charter to be historic precedent for their work in establishing our nation’s freedom.
Four copies of the 1215 Magna Carta exist today: two in the British Museum, one in Lincoln Castle, (143 miles north of London), and one in Salisbury Cathedral (eighty-eight miles west of London). A few years ago, I stood before the copy in the Salisbury Cathedral for a long time, marveling at the power of its words to change human history.
In October 2018, a would-be thief named Mark Royden carefully plotted to steal this priceless document. He allegedly scouted out the position of CCTV cameras and the layout of the cathedral. Then he tried to smash through reinforced glass with a hammer to get to the document. He also reportedly set off a fire alarm to cause confusion.
However, Royden was tackled by Gary Price, the cathedral’s clerk of works, and by American tourists Matt and Alexis Delcambre. He then ran off but was caught by stonemasons working at the cathedral. His trial is now underway.
The Delcambres had no idea when they came to the cathedral that day that they would make history by helping to preserve history. They were simply available in the moment, risking themselves to do whatever they could. All the future generations that see the Magna Carta in this magnificent cathedral will be in their debt.
Much of what we do to impact the world happens in this way.
The power of passion
Moses didn’t know before he encountered the burning bush that he would lead his people from Egyptian slavery. David didn’t know before he fought Goliath that their battle would make the pages of Scripture. Peter didn’t know before Pentecost that his sermon would help launch the global gospel movement. John didn’t know before he was exiled on Patmos that he would receive the Revelation there.
Think of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. Or William Carey setting out for India as a missionary. Or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writing his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
It’s been said that God seeks not ability but availability. It’s actually both—he uses our abilities as they are available to him in the moment of opportunity.
You may not be able to save the Magna Carta this week, but your every act of obedience to God’s leading will resonate forever with your Father in heaven.
How available to his Spirit are you today?