To become a citizen of the United States, you must do three things: apply for citizenship, pass a naturalization exam, and participate in an oath ceremony. There’s one more thing I think should be added to the list: you should have to watch at least one John Wayne movie. I think you could learn a lot about where our country’s been and what it’s stood for by watching any of the Duke’s movies.
My favorite John Wayne movie is True Grit. It was the film that won him an Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn. Cogburn is a gruff, cantankerous, one-eyed U.S. Marshal who is hired by the film’s heroine, fourteen year old Mattie Ross, to track down the man responsible for murdering her father.
A Texas Ranger named La Boeuf is interested in the same man because of crimes he committed in Texas so he and Cogburn decide to work together. Their first order of business is to leave behind the spunky Mattie, who somehow has it in her mind that she is going to accompany them in tracking down their suspect.
Just when they think they have successfully rid themselves of the headstrong teenager, she surprises them by showing up as they prepare to board a ferry to cross a river. Cogburn doesn’t stay surprised for long. He concocts a story about Mattie being a runaway and tells everyone at the crossing there’s a fifty dollar reward for whoever finds her and takes her back to her home. One of the men at the crossing takes Mattie and heads back toward town while Cogburn and La Boeuf board the ferry.
They are almost to the other side of the river when something down river catches Cogburn’s eye—it’s Mattie crossing the river! Her horse is swimming hard with its head barely above the water while Mattie is trailing behind, holding on to the reins for dear life. A smile breaks across Rooster’s face as he sees her courage and determination. “Look at that,” he says to La Boeuf, “She reminds me of me!”
I don’t know that God would ever say it exactly like that but I do know that He takes great pleasure when His children launch out by faith and do something brave.
Our Bibles speak of Abraham and Noah and others who, because of their faith, lived on the edge for God. They were all sinners who at times disappointed themselves and God but nevertheless, they kept on moving toward God and for God. And when they breathed their last, nothing had changed. They were “still living by faith when they died,” (Hebrews 11:13). What an epitaph! And because of all of this we’re told that “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them,” (Hebrews 11:16).
God is not ashamed to be called their God. In fact, He is proud. Whatever else warms the heart and inspires the spirit, at the top of the list is to know we have pleased Him who is everything to us and has done everything for us.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline,” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Proceed and be bold.