A MAN IN A MILLION

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Over the past few days, I have begun and nearly finished reading, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee. As you all know, I can very rarely read something and not write a blog post about it.  

To Kill a Mockingbird”, is a classic novel which, unsurprisingly, has come under much scrutiny from those who wish to see our world spiral into utter chaos and destruction. The book is centered around the Finch family, consisting of Atticus, a lawyer in the small town of Maycomb, and his two children, Jem, and Scout (more formally, Jean Louise). Atticus makes the rather unorthodox decision to defend a black man who has been wrongfully accused of raping a young white woman. Mr. Finch and his children experience a great deal of persecution and betrayal because Atticus has decided to do this. Now, the book is set primarily in the year of 1935, a time in history when black and white people were distinctly separated, and when a white man would never dream of even trying to defend a black man in court.  

Scout, Atticus’s eight-year-old daughter, does not take kindly to the slurs directed at her family and her father’s client, and gets into more than one fight because of them. Over the course of the story, Atticus encourages her on many occasions not to take the comments personally, and to always remember that the people of Maycomb are their friends, no matter what may happen concerning the trial.   

The first time Atticus told her these things, I was instantly reminded of the many different occasions in my life where I have had similar conversations with my father. He would never want me to say this, but he is so similar to Atticus Finch, I sometimes feel as though I am reading about him directly. I, no matter how much I may like to deny it, am extremely similar to Scout, and have on more than one occasion become equally as irritated with people as she does throughout the book.  

During my mere sixteen years of life, I have witnessed people lose their heads about the silliest, most un-Christian of things, and proceed to blame my family when the ship begins to sink because of their poor decisions. This blog post is not intended to shame anyone, or lead anyone to believe my family is anywhere near perfect. I can assure you we most certainly are not. Just bear with me as I continue.  

I believe Atticus is one of the greatest fictional men out of all the literature I have read, and he has provoked a great deal of conviction in my own heart. I have often struggled with feeling utterly disgruntled toward people who refuse to do the right thing merely because it will not benefit them; because it is not in their own self-interest. Atticus, if he were real, would be a man in a million. He was willing to sacrifice his good reputation, suffer physical harm, and listen to people publicly humiliate him and his children, simply to do the right thing, even though he knew it may not make much difference.  

Many of you know we were in Williamsburg a couple of weeks ago for a family vacation, and something they do there are short productions where you get to “see” and interact with a Founding Father. One of the Founders we were able to see was Thomas Jefferson. Once he finished his presentation, he allowed the audience to ask questions. A question he was asked was, “How do you reconcile owning slaves and, in the initial draft of the Constitution, calling for the complete outlaw of slavery?” He paused for a few seconds, thought about the question, and proceeded to tell the audience that he meant, whole-heartedly, what he proposed in the Constitution. That he would have freed every one of his slaves had his proposal been accepted. Unfortunately, it was not, and slavery remained legal for many years after.

He then posed a question to his audience, and it is one I have been pondering most of my life. He asked, “How do you get a group of men to do something that is not in their interest? That, though it is right, will not benefit them, and will in fact make their lives more difficult?”  

It saddens me greatly to see weak men be brought under the yoke of self-service and merely float along with the tides of others. It makes me physically sick to see men protect themselves, instead of seek justice, no matter what it may cost.  

Men like Atticus Finch and my father really are one in a million, and that is why I believe history is one long tragedy. A long story of one strong man being beaten down and ground into the dust because of a multitude of weak ones.  

This is why people like Scout and I become disgruntled and angry. Because while we have had the great privilege of living with the strong man, we have had the disheartening burden of watching him fight against the seemingly never-ending tide of weakness.  

However, this is the kind of story our very faith is built on. It is built on the life of a man sent down from Heaven to be one in a million, and to bear the weight of our weakness, so that we may eventually learn to rely on his unending strength. Through this story, we have been promised that one day what is right will prevail, and that is an encouraging thought.  

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (2 Timothy 3:12-14 ESV).  

The Lord has used my father, and Atticus Finch, to teach me that just because what is right may often earn you the hatred of lesser men, and may cost you everything you hold dear, it does not make it any less valuable.  

The only answer I have ever found to the question Mr. Jefferson asked is that in order for men to do the right thing, even if it is difficult, they must be overcome with the power of Jesus. They must admit to themselves that they are utterly helpless in their own power, and the only way they will ever be capable of standing for something, is if they fall completely into the power and presence of our Almighty God.  

This week, I hope you are willing to lay your life before the Lord, and let him guide you toward what is good, true, and beautiful. That you are willing to give up whatever you value to pursue His truth and justice. 

I pray you are willing to be one in a million. 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he falls, at least falls while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  

– Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena 

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