As a preacher, I read a large variety of illustration books, story books, and joke books looking for stories to help make a point. I don't know where I first read the Legend of Big John, but I thought I'd share it today:
It seems that, way back in the Old West, a traveler came into a little town out past Abilene. He had been a'ridin' all day, and had developed for himself, well, a powerful thirst. As he rode into town, he saw some signs up. Warning signs, really, that the folk of the town should be careful, because Big John was in the area.
So, our traveler rode up to the hitchin' rack at the saloon, and went in and ordered himself somethin' to satisfy that powerful thirst he'd developed. Suddenly, a ruckus broke out, as a man ran in off the street and cried in terror "Big John's a-comin'!" All the patrons of the saloon gulped down one last drink, the pharaoh dealers collected their cards, and bolted out the back door. Some of them went to cowering behind the player piano, and the proprietor grabbed his shotgun, his best whiskey, and ducked behind the bar.
Now our traveler had endured dust storms, coyotes, and a buffalo stampede, so he wasn't quite so easily spooked, and, after all, was a-tryin' to satisfy his powerful thirst. So, as he stood there, resting his tired boots at the bar, he waited. He could see through the picture window that the streets had cleared, and the women-folk and children were locked in to the schoolhouse. Everyone knew that, well, Big John was a-comin'.
Into the bar where our traveler rested his tired soles came the biggest, orneriest lookin' cattle rustlin' varmint he'd ever seen. This cowpoke was at least 4 inches taller than he was, and broad enough to evoke sympathy for whatever animal he would ride the range on. He was wearing 2 holsters, one for each shotgun, and was chewin' on a piece of barbed wire that matched his belt.The fellow broke through the door, and looked around the bar, noticing the emptiness. Except, of course, for our weary traveler. And though there wasn't a yellow bone in his body, he filled up with fear, and began to understand the town's situation. Now, though, it was too late…
The traveler looked ruffian square in the eye and said, though greatly fearful inside, "What seems to be the trouble here, pardner?"
To which the ruffian replied: "Can't talk now, man. Big John's a-comin!"
So, what am I thankful for today? Naturally, there are many things that sound almost too trite to repeat, but family, friends, fellowship, food, freedom, forgiveness…(and alliteration!)
Yet today, I want to be thankful that, while we have enemies and troubles on this earth, and they're as scary as a huge ruffian a-chewin' barbed wire, those troubles will someday cower in fear before the King of Kings. That all the things that we may fear are, in truth, afraid. Why?
Not because Big John's a-comin', but because King Jesus has come and paid for our forgiveness. And because King Jesus is coming again, to pay those who wish to be paid for their works, and to show grace and mercy to those who have asked for that instead.
So, while your troubles may be striking fear into your heart, remember that even those troubles fear someone greater!
And unlike Big John, we know that King Jesus is on the side of His people, and those who acknowledge Him have nothing to fear.