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A Life of Conviction

August 26, 2018
Years ago, Bryan and I heard John McCain tell a story that really impacted us. He recalled the time that a guard in his prisoner of war camp in Vietnam shared his Christian faith with him one Christmas. In a brutal camp where worship would have been strictly prohibited, the guard quietly stood near McCain in the courtyard and secretly started drawing a cross in the dirt with his sandal for McCain to see. A minute later, he quickly rubbed it out, and walked away. For a moment, McCain said, they were just two Christians worshiping together. After sharing that story, he was asked what it means to be a Christian. He said, “It means I’m saved and forgiven.”
When I heard about McCain’s death tonight, I thought about that impactful story, and I thought about how glad I am that he embraced the truth that, through Christ, he was fully saved and forgiven.
Bryan and I voted for him in 2008. He is one of the few politicians we have ever respected.
A soldier during the Vietnam War. A prisoner of war who endured years of imprisonment and torture which left him with permanent physical disabilities. That, alone, earned our respect.
He also earned our respect through his courageous battle against brain cancer in recent years (the same type of cancer that took my grandpa’s life, years ago.) Such an ugly disease for anyone to face.
Finally, what also earned our respect (and our attentive ears) over the years was the fact that he didn’t align himself 100% with either major political party. He wasn’t all-in on either side. Some issues pushed him to one side. Some pushed him toward the other. He knew that neither party held all of the answers, and neither was the ultimate moral authority. He was a rarity in Washington. He was one of the few people in politics who realized that the only way to get people to listen to you – REALLY listen to you – is to show them that your convictions are what form form your opinions. And if you align yourself with a political party on 100% of the issues, 100% of the time, you probably aren’t driven by your convictions. You are driven by the convictions of others. When Bryan and I heard about McCain’s death tonight, we discussed how he was one of the few politicians who wasn’t automatically tuned out by Republicans or Democrats. He knew that in order to turn attentive ears his way, he had to show that he was thinking on his own, and he was operating on his own convictions. I didn’t always agree with McCain’s views/opinions. Bryan didn’t either. But, we always listened to him…because we knew he was usually trying to operate from a place of conviction.
So, what’s the message for all of us, through his life and death? Well, we think it is this: if you find yourself posting a bunch of political stuff online that supports a certain political party 100% of the time, most people will probably just tune you out (Bryan and I included). Over time, they will conclude that you have unwaveringly sold out to one political ideology…that you aren’t making decisions on your own…and that you look to politicians as your moral authority. John McCain seemed to know that moral authority doesn’t rest in human hands. That’s what Bryan and I believe, too. It doesn’t rest in human hands. It rests in God’s hands. And, as of tonight, that is where John McCain rests, too, thanks to his belief that – through Christ – he could be saved and forgiven. I’m thankful for that thought tonight. And I’m thankful for McCain’s service to our country (in more ways than one)…
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