And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 24:13-14 (NIV)
I know when people think of a historian, they often envision a little old lady hiding among a stack of dusty manuscripts rubbing her hands together in glee when she finds the name of an ancient ancestor. While, yes, that is sometimes a description of me, for the most part, as a historian, I do much more than collect books and papers or run down long forgotten facts. Every day is different. I might be teaching a class of high school students how to do an oral history interview. I could be writing a grant application hoping to get money for a restoration or education project. I speak to community groups about our heritage, organize special events, lobby to save old buildings, plan marketing campaigns, encourage collaboration between the cultural groups in our county, oversee a large budget, mediate between frustrated employees, or advise the supervisors under me in how best to help their staff. Some days are better than others. This has been an exciting week to be a historian, and it is not because we found a treasure map buried in an old cabinet. It is because we had not one, but four opportunities to make a significant impact on the preservation of history in our community. This week, we asked our County Administrator to waive the rental fees for the site where we hold our annual History Fair, convinced our Board of County Commission not to make a zoning decision that would impact one of our historic sites, lobbied our tourist development council to establish a funding source for arts, culture and heritage organizations and events and hopefully, kept our School Board from tearing down yet another historic school. Those were all tasks of great importance to our future work. While invigorating, it was also stressful or at least it would have been except for one thing. I have my boss’s support for this work. He is highly respected in our community and knows who to ask for help and how to ask them. My staff and I spent hours gathered the facts about each situation and organizing them into arguments and summaries. We did research, gathered statistics and quotes, founds photographs and prepared the case. The role of my boss was quick and simple. He just signed the requests for help. Yet, because his name was on the bottom line, we are seeing positive responses to the needs we have presented. It does not matter how much I might know about the situations or how passionately I care about the outcome. What matters is who endorses the programs. So it is with our prayers. God cares about every detail of our lives. What gives us the ability to ask is the influence of His Son and Jesus’ desire to bring glory to God in everything He does. Ask confidently, but remember, “In Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula, but an acknowledgement of Who is in control and all powerful and Who we seek to glorify with our lives.