I grew up among tough people.
I don’t think they set out to be tough. Life demanded toughness and they answered.
- I saw my Uncle Earl dig out a three-inch splinter from the palm of his hand with his pocket knife.
- I saw my step father get caught with a fish hook. He pushed on through (even with the eye intact), adjusted his cigar, and went back to fishing.
- After my Daddy died, everybody told my Mama to sell the ranch. She dug in her heels and refused.
- When the family needed groceries in the depression, my Aunt Ouida, a teenager, would go down to the barn by herself, kill a steer, butcher it, lay out the meat on the backseat of Model A Ford, and go to town to trade it out for sugar and coffee.
- The woman who helped raised me, Bert Calder, once told some boys to quit picking on me or she was going to whoop their —–. Except Bert didn’t use hyphens. They kept picking on me, and the whooping began.
- There are stories about my Daddy, nicknamed King Kong, that tell me he was tough. He and his cousin Top Barlow practiced steer wrestling by going out in the pasture in an old truck, one driving, one riding on the fender. They would pull up next to a running steer and the one on the fender would leap onto the steer and wrestle it to the ground. For long time, Daddy held the record for the fastest time throwing a steer in the state of Florida: 1.7 seconds.
- My granddaddy was told at age eight to go make his own way in the world. He started as a cook on a dredge in the Kissimmee River. He would have to hunt for the meat, kill something, clean it, and cook it for the crew. At eight years old.
Tough people do what needs to be done. But none of these people were as tough as the toughest man I’ve ever known.
This man was tough enough to tell the phonies they were phonies. He spit in the face of evil. He attacked corruption. When faced with his own death, he didn’t run away. He knew his death would mean others would live.
In one of the most mysterious moments of history, he took on the ultimate enemy. Three days after his demise, he licked death in a battle that changed everything.
The toughest man I’ve ever known is Jesus.
Was he tender? Of course. But if your picture of Jesus is just of His tender moments, you’ve missed the part of the story that changes history, that changes you. It is the part of the story that keeps you from staying a victim, because Jesus wants you to be like Him. Tough. Because tough disciples do what needs to be done for their master, the toughest one of all.