Like Billy Coleman

Tonight I watched “Where the Red Fern Grows” for the first time. I know, I can’t believe I haven’t seen it until now either. But, I now completely understand why they call it a classic.

And, if you haven’t seen the movie yet – or read the book – I’ll do my best not to ruin it. But you should get on that pretty quickly!

While the story of Billy and his two dogs (or best friends rather) will stir your heart in ways unimaginable, there’s a few things in the story that take us even deeper. A few things I think our world desperately needs.

Little Billy lived his life in a way that I could only hope for. He lived a simple life and he understood three important things: sacrifice, love and faithfulness.

Billy’s grandpa once told him: “Sometimes you’ve got to do your part before God can do His. You have to meet him half way.” At that moment Billy understood what he’d been missing all along was sacrifice for the one thing he loved most.

My heart breaks because our world needs so badly the kind of sacrifice Billy demonstrated. We are seldom willing to put forth the effort or to give up things that are important to us for the things or people we love.

Billy knew how to love the way I believe God intended us to love. The love Billy had for his dogs, his Ma and Pa, his two baby sisters and his Grandpa was demonstrated in every choice he made.

Wilson Rawls explains that kind of love in this line from the story: “It’s a shame that people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts. There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness. It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have – a wonderful world.”

And, Billy was faithful. He was faithful when it wasn’t easy. He trusted God when nothing seemed to make sense and when his heart was broken.

That’s no easy thing for any of us, but Billy set an example of what it’s like keep the faith. To lean on Him when there’s nothing else to lean on.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” leaves my heart eager for a life much simpler – a life where the things that matter most come first.

But, even in our crazy, busy, 21st century world I believe love, sacrifice and faithfulness are possible. And I believe a little dose of that will change our hearts and our world.



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