ADVANCED WARNING: SKIP READING THIS POST IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO ME INDULGE IN A BUNCH OF NAVEL GAZING. BUT IT DOES HAVE A POINT. I HOPE.
I doubt if too many people reading this blog don’t already know the plot of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Just in case, though, let’s summarize. The story kicks off after everyone’s favorite adventuring archeologist receives his father’s diary under mysterious circumstances. Following the clues contained in the book, Indiana manages to track down his missing dad and the two are soon involved in a series of adventures which ultimately leads them to the final resting place of the Holy Grail. The action scenes are great as usual and the interplay between the Jones’ is a blast, especially since the elder Jones approves of very little of his son’s actions, especially his choice to use the alias Indiana instead of his given name.
Now I’d love to say this post was about to segue into describing how I was preparing to embark on a series of globetrotting adventures involving ancient religious relics but, alas, that’s not the case. Instead, the only reason this movie came to mind recently was because of one thing…
Yep, the diary Indiana receives that once belonged to his father. Sorry, no Nazis, no zeppelins, no mystical knights still alive since the days of the Crusades. Just the book.
But to explain why I’ve had that on my mind, I’ll have to give you a little boring background on myself. See, I’ve made no big secret that there were times in my past when I wasn’t exactly living the Christian life, but I have managed to spare everyone all the messy details. And I’m not about to get too deep into them now. But I will say that many years ago I was involved in a relationship that I was way too immature to be in, and that it ended badly, especially for the girl. Don’t get me wrong, I was never violent or anything like that (I’d eat a bullet before I hit a woman), but I was a completely self-absorbed teenager oblivious to how my actions harmed others. I don’t want to say too much more, only that for a long time after that relationship was over, the poor girl still pursued me, even after I’d begun dating my future wife. I won’t say she was a stalker, because that’s too harsh and implies danger. Let’s just say she was obsessive, and because of that, I had to keep a low profile for awhile. So as you might imagine, when I started interacting on the Internet, I was very careful about handing out personal details, never stating exactly where I lived and almost always using aliases. It’s a practice I continued even after I thought it unnecessary because, not only did it give my wife peace of mind, but aliases on the Net can take on a life of their own. Take EegahInc for example. More than once I’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog only to get the response, “Hey, it’s the B-Movie Catechism guy!”
So when I was recently approached by a Catholic website that wanted to feature some of my writing, I had to give it a little thought because it would mean using my real name. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. And that was when my mother called and said she was mailing me this…
Back in 1984, a few years after my family had left its decadent days behind it and started going to church, my father was looking for something to carry in his shirt pocket to replace the ever-present pack of cigarettes he was giving up. So for Father’s day, I bought him this. Honestly, I never gave it another thought, but according to my mother, he carried this little book with him every day until he died some 18 years later, often bringing it out to discuss the wondrous things Jesus had done for him whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was never as close to my father as my older brothers were, so the fact that he kept something I gave him on his person at all times is a bit… overwhelming.
But to get to the point, on the night he entered the hospital for the final time, this pocket testament went missing. My mother figures it just got misplaced in the rush to try and save him, and in the days following his death, nobody really gave it any thought. That was ten years ago. A couple of weeks ago, there was a knock on the door at my mother’s house and there stood a man who used to do yard work for my father after he got too ill to do it himself. He explained how he had been having a conversation with a woman when she asked him if he still knew how to find my mother. You see, she had come into possession of something she thought my mother might want and asked him if he would deliver it. And so ten years after it disappeared, this little book of my father’s, dirty and much the worse for wear and having passed through who knows whose hands, had found its way home. And after holding it and crying over it for hours, my mother finally got up and called me, saying she couldn’t explain why, but she knew God wanted me to have it.
I’ve got it next to me right now. It’s just one of those little pocket King James New Testaments with Psalms that you can pick up anywhere. No big deal. But thumbing through it, I can’t help but notice the verses my father had highlighted, most of which I assumed he would use to share the story of his conversion. But then I ran across these from II Timothy 2: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” I had to think about those verses for a minute, because those aren’t ones you’d read to a non-believer. Those verses are speaking to someone who has already accepted Christ, instructing them to be gentle and respectful with non-believers when we evangelize.
And we are supposed to evangelize, through our words, our deeds, and the way we carry ourselves during our day to day lives. But given the no-longer-hidden war on religion which has begun in earnest, a lot of us are going to have be a little more public with our faith than we have been in the past. Now more than ever, it’s important that the world see our faces. Oh, there’ll be much derision, sure. And probably some outright hatred. But it will all be to the greater glory of God in the end. And that’s why my father highlighted those verses, not for others but for himself, for when he faced times like these when evangelization isn’t all that appreciated. And, just maybe, for me to find all these years later right when I needed to. Thank you, daddy.
And with that, I have only one other thing to say…
Hi, my name is David Ives. I’m a Christian. And God has done great things for me, even though in my days I’ve been mean and selfish and hurt others who in no way deserved it. He brought me out of that. That’s just how much He loves me. And He loves you just the same. I’d be happy to talk to you about it sometime if you want.