It was November 2018 when I arrived home from the military. I didn’t have a whole lot of clothes with me. A few days pass, I was out and about with my parents for the holidays. My mother decided to buy me a sweater, not a Christmas sweater. The sweater she bought me was a John Wayne classic wool sweater, I liked it. I never considered myself a John Wayne fan. Not that I do not like John Wayne. Honestly, I didn’t know much about him. He was before my time. Sure, True Grit was a good film. – Not to be confused with the 2010 remake.
On a ranch style porch, I sat in reflection wearing my John Wayne sweater. Tears came down my face as I prayed to God. I had been feeling depressed and beaten by life. “Lord, I don’t know what to do or what I am doing. I miss my little boys. My wife does not love me.” – My wife wanted a separation and now she had it. My mother walked onto the porch. Son, what is wrong?”
A teenager might walk around the mall after school to kill time and hang out. In Florida, retirement capital U.S.A., senior-citizens do the the same before schools get out. – I do not live in Florida, but I have witnessed this. My father however, enjoys walking around the Habitat For Humanity store. He was a volunteer before his health started declining. Now he is loosing his sight to diabetes. As my father and myself looked around, I approached some book shelves. I was wearing my John Wayne sweater. A book caught my attention. I noticed the Nelson Publishers logo on the spin. With finger across the spin, I snatched the book from its place. Opening the cover, you can see someone had written in it. It reads;
Garden Grove, Cal. 1988
I flipped to the beginning of the book.
The call came late in the evening. John Wayne was facing surgery the next morning. It could be serious. He asked me to come and pray with him. I had met him socially on more than one occasion, but now “the Duke” wanted my prayers as a pastor and friend. He was fighting a recurring battle with cancer. As I drove alone the next morning through the early darkness, I mentally checked through all the possibilities and prayed, “Dear God, what should I say to him? What can I tell him? Ask him? What prayer shall I pray with him?”
I was shocked by the irony, standing there in my John Wayne sweater I had received only a few days before. Not only that, somehow this book made its way from California to North Carolina. Dear reader, I was born in California and now standing in North Carolina. Needless to say, I bought that book. The name of the book was Be Happy You Are Loved by Robert H. Schuller. What I took away from the experience is this; Jesus sees me and loves me. In all the hardship, the sadness, depression, Jesus sees and loves.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
– Matthew 5:3