Looking for Loopholes
As I was thinking about what to write about this evening, I came across a notice that on this date, January 29th, in 1880, William Claude Dekenfield, better known as W.C. Fields, a somewhat off-color comedic genius was born in Darby, PA. During his career, Fields also was a prolific writer and for a time in his early years, earned his living as a juggler. Fields died at the relatively young age of 66 in 1946 – on the very day of the year that he professed to hate the most – Christmas Day. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetary in Glendale, CA.
Throughout his career, Bill, as he was called by his close friends, appeared in numerous movies, on radio and in skits across the country, and indeed, the world. He was married for a time, had several girlfriends and fathered several illegitimate children, in addition to one he had with his wife before they became estranged. He became known for his dislike of children and his fondness for alcohol, which he had abstained from in his early years on the stage, so as to not impair his ability to juggle. All in all, his stage personna became so well known that Bill started to act in real life the way he acted on the stage.
Almost two years before he died, Fields moved to a sanitarium in order to get better care as his body continued to fail after a lifetime of alcohol abuse. Near the end of his life, one of his friends stopped by to visit and found Bill, an avowed atheist, reading the Bible. When asked what he was doing, Fields replied, “looking for loopholes.” Not so many days later, Fields died at the facility, but not before a friend turned on a hose and sprayed the roof of the bungalow so Bill could hear his favorite sound – rain falling on the roof….
I was wondering this evening how someone who who had been exposed to a religious household, from a Catholic father and Protestant mother, could turn away from religion and become such a convicted atheist. But Fields never really went back to religion – the closest he ever came to anything spiritual is that he allowed his wife to have their son baptized. His lifelong stance on religion can be summed up with one of his most famous quotes – that he was “an avowed atheist [who] regarded all religions with the suspicion of a seasoned con man.”
I have wondered for many years what caused Fields to go back and read the Bible that day. Was he thinking about ways to get into heaven, or was it just another comedy routine for the benefit of an audience? Having been raised in a religious home, I would have thought that his parents would have taught him that anyone can get into heaven. It’s never too late. And Jesus makes it quite clear that we don’t have to look for loopholes. Getting in step with God is a simple thing – just believe. And if you can’t do that, then at least follow the command to love one another as Christ has loved us.
But I have been around long enough to realize that many people just don’t think that it can be that easy. Or that they have committed sins that God would never forgive – or that they could never be worthy to be welcome in heaven. And those thoughts are far more prevalent than you think. I’ll bet you may even be surrounded by people who share a similar view. But that’s not the case. There is nothing that we can do that is so bad that God can’t forgive us and welcome us into heaven. That’s all there is to it.
Throughout my life, I have coached thousands of people who just don’t see how they can ever get in God’s good graces. Obviously, Bill Fields was such a man. But I have seen miracles happen and know that even the toughest critics of religion can eventually come to know the saving grace of a relationship with God. Sometimes, it takes a number of years to get there, but there are no barriers between us and God. We have direct access to the Creator of everything.
The verse for this evening is from Jude 21, “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” My encouragement this evening is that you should just try to make sure that you are available to God and that you keep your relationship with Him open. Even if you stray from Him for a time, He will patiently wait for you to return. And you will never have to look for loopholes. My prayer is that you will never experience the doubt that so many people have about the love of God. Just know that God loves you – more than you know. Have a great day in the Lord….