“I was sheriff of this county when I was 25 years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman. Father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time, him up in Plano and me out here. I think he’s pretty proud of that. I know I was.
“Some of the old-time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lot of folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough never carried one. That’s the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn’t wear one up in Comanche County.
“I always liked to hear about the old-timers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they’d have operated these times.
“There’s this boy I sent to the electric chair at Huntsville here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killed a 14-year-old girl. Paper said it was a crime of passion, but he told me there wasn’t any passion to it. Told me he’d been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said if they turned him out, he’d do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. Be there in about 15 minutes.
“I don’t know what to make of that. I surely don’t. The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, ‘OK. I’ll be part of this world.’”
— Sheriff Ed Tom Bell from No Country for Old Men
I’m just going to shoot straight here and tell you that life has been pummeling me as of late. It’s not just one thing. It’s a general barrage of first world hardship and disappointment. Now, when I say first world I’m just giving some global context, not saying that my pain hurts less because of it. It’s been hard. Job’s been hard. People’ve been hard. And as usual, I've been less than stellar at making things better myself. It’s just the times for me.
And I have to say, that because of it my fingers have been slower to flip through the word of God. Haven’t even wanted to say His name out loud much.
It isn’t that I’m angry. If anything I am disturbed by how calm I’ve been, how easily I’ve turned over. No. It’s fear. There’s a caution inside me when I start reaching for the Bible, a catch in my mouth for words of praise towards Him. I’m just so tired of being pummeled that I’m downright scared to shake the hornet’s nest anymore. I can hear inside me being whispered, “Just keep it to your self. You can love God. Just hold it inside you. The Gospel is great, but let other people share it. Take a breath. Focus on getting by. Don’t put your soul at hazard any longer.”
Each passing day has seen pieces of me flake off out of necessity. Shed that optimism in order to cope with the disappointment. Slough off that hope. It just leads to more pain.
The whole thing has just about shut me up. There doesn’t feel to be a whole lot left of me in there. But… there are some things, some good things, no, great things, things too good, that keep rattling the cage that seems to surround my heart. They shout inside me, “Wake up! Fight!”
So fight I must, for I cannot bear to disappear any further. Hope must be and grow. And, my passion to share the gospel will not be curtailed. Stopping telling people about God? Might as well die. What’s the point otherwise? That’d be like never saying I love you to those you love ever again, and that just isn’t going to happen.
I'm going to double up and believe it'll be okay, that there is a purpose to this mess. After all, I was warned by God himself. Shame on me for ever thinking it was going to be anything other than hard. God didn't let the cup pass from His own son, Jesus. Why would I think he'd pass this cup, an infinitely smaller one, from me?
Strength may not be there. Right now it’s mostly bark, but I’m swinging. I’m swinging for hope, for a life that’s more than just okay. This weight need not crush me, nor will it… in Jesus’ name. I invite anyone who feels moved to do so please pray for me in this, that my heart would not fail, that dreams would not cease, that disappointment would not overrun me. Like the Psalmist, may I press on in faith, trust, and hope. I will pray the same for you.
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.