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The injury that gave us John Wayne: History turns on tiny hinges

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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The injury that gave us John Wayne: History turns on tiny hinges
John Wayne is shown during the filming of "The Horse Soldiers."

My father’s favorite actor was born on this day in 1907. His given name was Marion Robert Morrison, but you may recognize him as John Wayne.

The oldest of two children born to Clyde and Mary “Molly” Morrison, he was born in Winterset, Iowa, but moved with his family to Lancaster, California, around the age of seven. After his father failed in his attempt to become a farmer, the family moved again, settling in Glendale, California.

It was there that Wayne received his nickname, “Duke.” He had a dog by this name, and the two spent so much time together that they became known as “Little Duke” and “Big Duke.”

In high school, Wayne excelled in his classes and in student government and football. He also participated in several student theatrical productions.

He attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship, but an injury two years later ended his athletic career and his scholarship.

While in college, he had worked as a film extra, appearing as a football player in two films. Now out of school, he began working as an extra and a prop man in the film industry. In 1930, he received his first leading role in The Big Trail, working with director Raoul Walsh. Walsh is often credited with helping create his screen name, John Wayne.

The actor toiled for nearly a decade in numerous westerns and even played a singing cowboy in one role. His work in Stagecoach (1939) set him on the road to Hollywood fame. He went on to star in numerous westerns and war movies, winning an Academy Award in 1969 for True Grit. He died on June 11, 1979, in Los Angeles.

John Wayne’s injury in college caused him to leave school and seek work in the film industry. If not for that setback, I doubt if we would be discussing him today.

History turns on tiny hinges

It’s been said that history turns on tiny hinges. Think of the seemingly inconsequential events in Scripture that changed the world: Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt led to the preservation of the Jewish people; Moses’ encounter at the burning bush led to the Exodus and the Ten Commandments; David’s battle with Goliath led to establishing the Davidic monarchy through which the Messiah came; the disciples’ choice to leave their nets to follow Jesus led to apostolic Christianity; John’s exile on Patmos gave us the Revelation.

And most of all, of course, we think of the birth of a baby boy on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Every moment of your day is seen by your Father in heaven (cf. Matthew 10:29) as your Savior intercedes for you at his right hand (Romans 8:34). This means that every moment of this day, you can be led by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) into God’s perfect purpose for your life (Romans 12:2).

Your role is to stay submitted to the Spirit, not just on Sunday or occasionally through the week but all through every day (cf. Romans 12:1). Begin your day by surrendering it to your Lord, asking his Spirit to guide and use you. Then stay in touch with your Father as you pray about all you experience (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and walk in his word and will (Proverbs 3:5–6).

If you will follow Jesus, he will make your temporal days to be eternally significant (Matthew 4:19).

Including this moment.

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