You can’t stop a man who just keeps on keepin’ on!”
“The easy life is seductive; it lures one into mental, moral, and physical decay. Conversely, difficult times build strength of character; hardship produces endurance, failure brings focus, unsatisfied desire generates determination. It is good, then, to wrestle with agony, for only by such struggles do we prepare for the harshness of realism.”
Leander McNelly was quite a man. I am rereading a couple of books about his life and exploits for a book I am writing. To study his life we can see how God uses a man. Shown also is the way in which God directs lives. The thing is to be willing to be directed by Him. McNelly realized that God’s ways were greater than man’s ways. Let me share just a few things with you about the character of McNelly. Much of what is written here about McNelly is taken from Bob Scott’s book, “Leander McNelly: Texas Ranger.”
He was an optimistic man. He truly believed that good would triumph over evil. Morality was a way of life.
He was a man who planned on becoming a divinity student and then a preacher of the Gospel. Events would come into his life that this plans were never fulfilled. This is a hard, but valuable lesson to learn. We are to trust in God and He often sends events our way that draw us away from what we believe we should be doing even if it is an honorable profession. I often think of the dreams that parents put aside to sacrifice for their children. However, if they are believers they are being led by the hand of the Lord.
McNelly was a man of prayer. He prayed before going into battle, before making decisions, and before enforcing the law. He was a man who “prayed for strength and for reason, for understanding of what was going on, and for courage to endure.” Endurance may have been his strongest character trait, for he lived his life full of consumption (tuberculosis). His daily life was one of endurance.
After the Civil War, McNelly joined the Texas State Police. This group was notoriously noted as being corrupt. There is much conjecture as to why McNelly joined. One is the thought that he thought he could improve them. Upon becoming a captain he began to enforce rigid requirements of being “physically and morally clean.” Not long afterward the Texas Rangers were reorganized and McNelly became part of that organization. Those men who were under his command “did not refer to themselves as Texas Rangers, but rather as ‘McNelly’s’.”
Eventually McNelly succumbed to his life-long disease. He story is amazing, almost of a fictional character. Scott wrote, “A part of McNelly’s courage and heroism undoubtedly stemmed from his abiding Christian faith; he drew great strength from his God. Friends said that McNelly’s faith freed him from concern about where he would spend eternity, and that made it possible for him to throw himself into his earthly pursuits with abandon. It also gave him an enduring faith that even though moral men face hardships, in the long run good will win out over evil. He clung to that belief with determination, and that faith carried him through almost endless hardships.”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
–Isaiah 41:10 (one of McNelly’s favorite passages)