July 4, 2000
Many people, myself included, mourn the death of Grant McEwan. While I never met him, the stories about him made him familiar. He was not only well-known but widely admired and respected. Someone wondered about this admiration, and questioned if others thought so highly of this man, why is no one willing to follow his footsteps or imitate his high standards?
We react thinking not everyone can be like him. Besides, we need our heros. Remember our teen idols and switching from one to another? In most cases, such adoration did nothing for the idol (unless it sold products and built their bank account) but it must have done something for us who adored them, like give us an ego boost.
A person I know often mentions many “wonderful, kind” people she knows, but after hearing this many times, it is easy to see that she does not hold up their virtue as much as point out that she knows them. For her, knowing exceptional people somehow boosts her self-esteem.
Part of becoming an exceptional person does include a healthy self-image. Some say anyone can be “anything they want to be” as long as they think they can. Is that right? Can any person become a Grant McEwan?
Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” said so. I was in my early twenties when my father talked about this book and its concepts. I remember telling him I could think positive all I wanted but it would never make me an opera singer.
Dad had to agree (he likely overheard my squawks from the shower). Some things are beyond some people. Positive thinking cannot overcome certain limitations and being a hero is far more difficult than worshiping one. We can sing along with our favorite music stars but that is not the same as having a hit tune.
Reaching the top of any chart requires personal discipline, hard work, and persistence. “Overnight successes” have behind them a history of untold effort. So would a good self-image and hard work enable an ordinary person to be a man like McEwan? Or did he have a secret others do not know? Maybe he did.
The Bible says that “all good things” come from God. McEwan was a professing Christian. Because of his faith, he had a divine source for the good things in his life.
He also could claim these verses from 2 Peter: “(God’s) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, to that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
God makes His glory and goodness available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. Besides salvation from sin and eternal life, Christians have the nature of God added to their own nature. That does not make Christians perfect. Our own nature is still with us (the part that has those evil desires), yet the presence of His nature changes the way we live. With personal discipline, hard work, and persistence, we can live extraordinary lives.
McEwan was one of these. He disciplined himself with simple living and hard work, persisting in the virtues God gave him and went beyond making claims to live out God’s promises. Anyone who aspires to being a man like him can follow his footsteps — if they are willing to take the path that leads first to a Cross and the One who offers Himself to them. Then they can both say and prove it is true: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”