|Hatfields and McCoys - Blood and Baptism|
|Blogs - Ron Hutchcraft's Blogs|
Who'da guessed it? The Hatfields and McCoys just became TV stars!
The History Channel tried something new last week - their first-ever dramatic mini-series. About the most famous feud in American history. Some major stars like Kevin Costner (patriarch of the Hatfields) and Bill Paxton (head of the McCoys) gave the story some Hollywood clout. It turned out to be the top entertainment TV show in ad-supported cable history. A bit of a blockbuster!
Being Mr. History Guy, I watched it. A little of it. It was so violent that I turned it off. But as I read about what really happened when the Hatfields and McCoys launched a 13-year mountain war that became a national issue, I realized what a bloody affair it was. It cost the lives of Hatfield and McCoy sons and daughters and other loved ones - leaving 15 graves that didn't have to be.
If I'd watched it to the end, I'd have seen an ending no one could have predicted. Devil Anse Hatfield, the head of that violent clan, was baptized! Did I miss something here?
I missed what history says about the final chapter of Hatfield's life. One night in a church meeting, Devil Anse Hatfield went forward to publicly proclaim that he was giving himself to Jesus Christ. He brought the sins of a lifetime to the Savior who died for them. His baptism in the river was his affirmation to the crowd of onlookers that he was a new man.
So, they say, he lived the last ten years of his life with a peace they'd never seen in him before. The peace of a man who knew he was forgiven. By a Savior who said, "He that comes to Me, I will never, never cast out" (John 6:37 ).
Oh, I know some people have a problem with "terrible sinners" getting forgiven by God. But that's why Jesus came. He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32 ). Even that thief on the cross next to His. He'd lived a life of crime, and he didn't have any time to get baptized or confirmed or to live a good life. But he cried out to Jesus, "Remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
He may be the only person in the Bible who was expressly guaranteed heaven by the only One who can get you there. Jesus told him, "Today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:42-43 ).
From the murderous war between the Hatfields and McCoys comes an unexpected footnote of hope. It's never too late to give your life - however twisted, however tainted - to Jesus. And there's no one too bad for Jesus to forgive.
That's what overwhelmed the famous Apostle Paul, who did more than any single man to spread the message of Jesus across the world. Pretty amazing when you realize he started out as a brutal crusader against Jesus and His followers. That's why he said, "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy...the grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:13-16 ).
Turns out Jesus' problem isn't with the people who know they're sinners in need of rescuing. It's with the nice folks - religious folks - who think they can make it to heaven by being good. In that case, why did He go through all that hellish agony on the cross?
There's another totally awesome ray of hope in the story of Devil Anse Hatfield. Recent writers tell us that there are a bunch of Hatfields today who love and follow Jesus. Who were part of an amazing joint family reunion of the Hatfields and the McCoys a few years ago.
The legacy of faith and peace in the Hatfields tells me that one man's choice - to follow Jesus Christ - can change the course of his family's history. It could have been said as Hatfield went under at his baptism: "Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord" (Psalm 102:18 ).
Just think. Because of Jesus, you don't have to be what you've always been. Your family doesn't have to be what it's always been. The hate and hurt and hell can turn to a legacy of hope.