When Ben Hooper was born many years ago in the foothills of East Tennessee, little boys and girls like Ben who were born to unwed mothers were ostracized and treated terribly. By the time Ben was three years old, the other children would scarcely play with him. Parents were saying idiotic things like, “What’s a boy like that doing playing with our children?” as if the child had anything at all to do with his own birth. Saturday was the toughest day of all. Ben’s mom would take him down to the general store to buy supplies for the week. Invariably, the other parents in the store would make snide comments just loudly enough for mother and child to hear, comments like, “Did you ever figure out who his daddy is?”
What a tough, tough childhood! It was a big event when anything changed in the foothills of East Tennessee, and when little Ben was twelve-years-old, a new preacher came to pastor the little church in Ben’s town. Almost immediately, little Ben started hearing exciting things about him – about how loving and nonjudgmental he was. How he accepted people just as they were, and when he was with them, he made them feel like the most important people in the world. One Sunday, though he had never been in church a day in his life, little Ben Hooper decided he was going to go and hear the preacher. He got there late and he left early because he didn’t want to attract attention, but he liked what he heard. For the first time in that boy’s life, he caught a glimpse of hope. Ben was back in the church the next Sunday – and the next and the next. He always got there late and always left early, but his hope was building each Sunday.
On about the sixth or seventh Sunday the message was so moving and exciting that Ben became absolutely enthralled with it. It was almost as if there was a sign behind the preacher’s head that read, “For you, little Ben Hooper of unknown parentage, there is hope!” Ben got so wrapped up in the message, he forgot about the time and didn’t notice that a number of people had come in after he had taken his seat. Suddenly, the service was over. Ben very quickly stood up to leave as he had in all the Sundays past, but the aisles were clogged with people and he couldn’t run out. As he was working his way through the crowd, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and looked up right into the eyes of the young preacher who asked him a question that had been on the mind of every person there for the last twelve years: “Whose boy are you?” Instantly, the church grew deathly quiet. Slowly, a smile started to spread across the face of the young preacher until it broke into a huge grin, and he exclaimed, “Oh, I know whose boy you are! Why, the family resemblance is unmistakable. You are a child of God!” And with that the young preacher swatted him across the rear and said, “That’s quite an inheritance you’ve got there, boy! Now, go and see to it that you live up to it.” Many years later, Ben Hooper said that was the day he was elected and later re-elected Governor of the State of Tennessee.
Whenever life feels tough remember you have the power within to make the most of any situation. You have a divine lineage and eternal potential.