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We Are 'The Resolute'

In 1880, Queen Victoria gifted a double pedestal partners’ desk to President Rutherford B. Hayes as a token of the friendship between the two countries. The desk is hand-crafted, sturdy, and ornate. It has been used by many presidents, and it has been present for the most consequential meetings and decisions in our country’s history. The desk is known as the “Resolute Desk” because it was fashioned from the timbers of a British vessel called The Resolute.

The Resolute Desk became known in popular culture when it was featured in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, starring Nicholas Cage. In the movie, the Resolute Desk was the location of a critical clue leading to a massive treasure hidden by the Free Masons. While the desk’s role in the movie is fanciful and compelling, its true story has more to teach us.

The British ship, The Resolute, was part of an Artic rescue expedition in 1852. The ship and its crew were sent to find Sir John Franklin who was lost trying to discover the Northwest Passage. The Resolute became lodged in the ice and was abandoned. It was understood that the ship would be hammered by the harsh elements and eventually sink never to be recovered. However, three years later, Captain James Buddington and the crew of the American vessel George Henry recovered The Resolute. Congress appropriated the funds to restore The Resolute and sent it home to Queen Victoria. Twenty-five years later, when The Resolute was decommissioned, Queen Victoria repurposed the ship to an arguably higher calling.

Those of us who have been at the House for a while – employees and volunteers – know that how we began or where we faltered does not define us or fill the final pages of our stories. In fact, Scripture is full of men and women who thought they knew their purpose, made poor decisions, but then were dramatically changed by God and employed for their life’s true purpose. Maybe the best example is the Apostle Paul, who believed his mission was to violently persecute Christians until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Most of us are like The Resolute. We sailed into the icy waters of this life with a purpose but discovered we couldn’t navigate them alone. Now, in our lives with My Cup of Tea, we understand that we are being radically changed and that our purpose is not what we imagined – from proud, boasting sailing vessel, to abandoned and broken, to a completely new creature. Even the word “resolute” morphed. In the fifteenth century, it was used to mean “dissolved,” “of loose structure,” or “morally lax.” Today, resolute means” admirably purposeful,” “determined,” and “unwavering.”

So, in this season of resolutions and new beginnings, we are resolute that our past mistakes will not define us, and that we have a Divine purpose. We will strive to serve God by loving one another and knowing this: “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6