"Render therefore to all their dues: ... honour to whom honour." (from Romans 13:7)
I've really debated within myself whether to write and post this piece. Over the years I've written and posted some items online that I really believed had great significance and would have a great impact. At least- that was my hope! Shortly after Senator Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer, I wrote an open letter to him online. It was a pretty well-written piece. I'm sure he never saw it; it got very few "hits", and it probably made no impact. Earlier this year, I wrote an open letter to President Trump, and that one is pretty much in the same category. Interestingly enough, I did once post an item on my blog that got over 5,000 "hits". That was a piece stating my thoughts and opinions about Boston radio talk show host Jay Severin and his program. Frankly, most of my posts never get 200 "hits" and may never get 75 "hits".
So, I really debated this one, wondering if even one hundred people would read it, wondering if anyone would "share" it on social media, wondering if anyone would forward the link to it to their friends, wondering frankly if anyone would even remotely care!
I decided that the words from Romans chapter 13 that I opened with indicate that I absolutely must write this piece and post it online!
It can be kind of embarrassing to be sort of obsessed with a celebrity. I wouldn't want people to really think of me in that way; as the kind of guy waiting to get a celebrity's autograph, or the kind of guy who'd be blushing and spilling his glass of water while stuttering nervously and attempting to shake a celebrity's hand. But today I'm admitting that's the way I feel about John McCain. In answer to one of those questions asking what celebrity you'd like to go to dinner and a ball game with, for me, my number one choice is John McCain. When Billy Graham was alive, he probably would have been my number one choice, and I don't know what some of you will be thinking after you read this, but my other choices are (in this order): Robert Duvall, Jimmy Swaggart, Mike Pence, Rob Gronkowski, and lastly Dr. Phil Mcgraw.
I first became fascinated and obsessed with John McCain during his run for the 2000 Republican Presidential nomination. The more I saw and learned about John McCain, the more impressed I was and the more fascinated I became. Then, at some point, I watched a television drama about his early life, particularly his six-year imprisonment in Hanoi during the Vietnam conflict. Many of my friends know I don't like to post about politics on social media. That's why when Donald Trump said that John McCain was not a hero "because he was captured", I merely wrote on Facebook that it made me "sad". Today, I really regret downplaying that. Now, I did (somewhat reluctantly) vote for Donald Trump for President in 2016 and I will probably vote for him again in 2020. But that remark was so inappropriate and so insensitive that it still boggles my mind that it was said. And, the comment from the Trump staffer this week to the effect that, "he's dying so what does it matter"... well that comment was perhaps even worse. It was this week's comment that moved me to write this piece, even though I may look foolish to some people. (Honestly, with all I've said and done in my life, I probably look foolish already, so I guess it won't hurt to write this!)
Can you guess I'm one of those preachers who can be known for giving long introductions in his sermons and for using lengthy illustrations in his sermons?! So far, this is only the introduction! Now I will attempt to get to what I really want to say.
I guess I will never meet John McCain. I guess we will never have dinner together and go to a ball game or some other event. That's too bad. Maybe we'd have nothing in common. I wouldn't have lasted twenty-four hours in that "Hanoi Hilton" before I would have been crying like a baby! I would never have had the guts to do so much of what he did in life! Listen, I know he has a number of personal failures in his life, too. But John McCain is a great hero in my eyes. The first thing I would have done is saluted him. The second thing I would have done is shake his hand and tell him I'm very proud of him. I would have told him I voted for him for President in the 2000 and 2008 Massachusetts Republican primaries, as well as in the November 2008 Presidential election. I would have told him about my mother, the late Virginia M. Baril. She was a lifelong Democrat. In 2000, just a few months before her death, she changed her party status in Massachusetts from "Democrat" to "unenrolled" so she'd be able to vote for John McCain in the Republican primary. And, I'd tell him my sister Dianne feels the same way and admires John McCain as much as I do - maybe more! I'd probably have asked him questions about the current political scene and about his military service. And, I'd probably just have asked some general questions about things he likes to do, places he's visited or would like to visit, favorite books and movies, and things like that. Finally, I would have clearly talked about my personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and how it's God who is my purpose and reason for being "twenty-four/seven".
Will John McCain ever read this? I don't know.
I've certainly prayed for him. And, I've admired his daughter Meghan McCain and the strong stand she took on The View to defend Mike Pence and his faith. I think in my last moment with John McCain at our "meeting" I'd have quickly (and a little nervously) said, "Can I just briefly pray for you?" and if he'd allow it, I'd have laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed a very heartfelt prayer.
If there's been some miracle, and he's reading this, I say "THANK YOU, JOHN McCAIN", and I add that a lot of people love you, respect you, and are praying for you.