Taking The Long View


In the spring of 1939 A young actor named Ronald Reagan began work on a movie called “The Code of the Secret Service”.  In the film he played a hard-boiled secret service agent named  “Brass Bancroft”.

Throughout the fall of ’39 the movie was drubbed by critics and audiences alike.

It seemed very few people enjoyed the picture, even Reagan himself referred to the “The Code” as his worst performance.  In the midst of all of this criticism a 10-year-old Jerry Parr of Miami, Florida managed to see the film at least twice.

He liked it, no matter what anybody else said.

On March 30, 1981 President Ronald Reagan was walking from The George Washington Hotel to his limousine when John Hinkley Jr. opened fire on the president and his entourage.  President Reagan and four others were seriously wounded, but the situation could have been gravely worse had the secret service agents not immediately contained Hinkley and transported the wounded President to the hospital for surgery.

As security tackled the would be assassin another agent took hold of Reagan, and shoved him into the limo.  As he lay on top of the president, he noticed that the president was bleeding profusely from his chest.  He ordered the driver to take them to George Washington University Hospital.

By the time the president arrived at the emergency room he had lost approximately half of the blood in his body.  He was immediately rushed into a successful surgery after which the doctors announced that he had been minutes from dying.  Everyone credited the quick and effective decision-making skills of the Secret Service members on duty that day.

Especially the work of the agent who had gotten President Reagan into the car and to the hospital.

That agent was Jerry Parr of Miami, Florida.

Jerry Parr, now a grown man, had talked his father into taking him to see “The Code of the Secret Service” so many times that he decided he wanted to be a Secret Service Agent when he grew up.  Little did he know that he would some day help to save the life of man he was watching on the silver screen.

We often believe that things will remain the way we initially think them to be, but it’s interesting the perspective that time can bring to us.  You see over time we gain to ability to witness things from differing vantage points and the perspective of others.  In doing this we get the opportunity to rethink the value and importance of certain events and achievements.

Abraham Lincoln died in office as an unpopular president yet by the time his memorial opened he had become one of the most beloved.

C.S. Lewis was a confirmed and respected atheist before becoming a great Christian apologist.

Americans used to watch hockey on television.

Jesus spent much of his time trying to get people to take a hard look at their traditional beliefs.  He was often asking them to analyze their opinions to see if they weren’t merely reacting against something that offended their present sensibilities.

St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is full of Jesus’ refrain, “You have heard that it was said … but I say to you.” He was constantly challenging accepted religious views, as well as expectations about what He (Messiah) was supposed to accomplish.

Placing our opinions (no matter how firm we think they are) on God’s examination table is something that every Christian is called to do.  This is not because God may change over time, but because we, like much of Jesus original audience, are apt to believe whatever we are told about God by someone who we trust.

Our spiritual opinions are rarely built through personal, spirit-led interaction with God, rather they’re largely informed by the people we surround ourselves with.  Our dogma is quite often “crowd sourced” and crowds rarely take a long view of anything.

The long view requires patience and a willingness to be changed, because it’s not so much changed circumstances that change us, it’s the changing of us that causes us to see  truth more clearly.

For 42 years Ronald Reagan believed he’d made one of the worst movies anybody had ever seen.

He had no idea he had made a film that would end up saving his own life.

Reagan the actor wasn’t very proud of his work in “The Code of the Secret Service”.  

Reagan the President came to understand how important that work actually was.

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