” ‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face (Psalm 11:3-7).”
Bobby Hattaway is a Civil War hero who returns home in triumph. Unfortunately, a boyhood friend has gone bad while he was away and turned their town upside down.
In the made-for- TV movie “Lone Rider”, Stu Croaker is Cain to Bobby’s Abel. Bobby is respected, while Stu is feared.
Stu is a swindler who cheats and murders to get what he wants, which is control of all the land and businesses in town. He is on his way to gaining his desires when Bobby rides in.
At the point of Bobby’s return, Stu is about to put Bobby’s father out of his mercantile business and take over the Hattaway family farm. Bobby’s father took a loan from Stu, whom he thought he could trust, and is now unable to pay it because business is bad.
The reason for the bad business is that Stu has had his ruffians steal the Hattaway’s supplies time and again before they get to town. There is nothing on the shelves to sell.
Bobby tries to act honorably and pays off what his father owes to Stu. However, this is only a short term solution. Stu wants what he wants.
He tells his thugs to turn up the heat on the Hattaways. The first victim is cousin Curtis, who is beat up when his suppy wagon is attacked, and roughed up again when he goes into the saloon (owned by Croker) for a beer.
The final straw for Bobby, however, is when his father is murdered in his store late at night. His Dad tells him as he dies that Stu shot him in the back. Bobby weeps as his father passes.
Now, it’s war.
Stu’s problem is that he wants to be Bobby, but he doesn’t have it in him. He even went as far as marrying Bobby’s old flame while Bobby was off fighting, but unlike his friend in the old days, he treats her like dirt.
Stu isn’t respectable, but he tries to gain it the only way he knows how–through evil methods. When his wife returns from the funeral of Bobby’s father, and Stu learns where she has been, she explains that she went because the Hattaway’s deserve respect, even though they themselves are bad people.
You would think perhaps Stu would get the message. However, all his wife’s statement does is enrage him.
He decides it is time to take Bobby out. However, Bobby is not one to run from a fight. After making sure his mother and newfound love are safely out of harm’s way, he plans the final confrontation with Stu.
In the end, in a reversal of the Cain and Abel story, it is Stu who loses his life. Bobby, who road into town alone, gains the support of his old army buddy and even the sheriff, who seemed to be in Stu’s pocket up to then.
Bobby lives happily ever after. He marries his sweetheart, the business thrives and he even becomes the new sherriff.
Bobby isn’t the only Lone Rider around. The Bible has its own. His name was David.
David was a war hero like Bobby. However, he gained an adversary in King Saul, who previously was almost like a father to him.
David had to run from Saul, and grieved over his situation with his best friend, who just happened to be Jonathan, the king’s son (I Samuel 2o:1-42). David had to flee and lost the companionship and support of his buddy in the doing. He was truly alone.
While running, David stopped to get some provisions and a weapon from a priest. Then, when he tried to seek refuge with the Philistines, his country’s enemies, he ran again out of fear when he got the sense that their king was opposed to him being around.
At this time, David was scared and grieving. However, he didn’t remain in that state.
Like Bobby Hattaway, David began to take responsibility for what was happening around him. He sent his loved ones out of harm’s way and gathered around him men who had also been harmed by Saul.
When he learned that the family of the priest whom he had visited while running had been murdered, he saw himself as accountable to them. David acknowledged his careless disregard for the fate of the priests.
He had seen one of Saul’s men at the home of the priest when he went there and thought that perhaps the man might tell his boss. Yet, David was shortsighted and didn’t follow through to do something about it.
When the priests and their families were murdered, David tried to make amends. He brought the lone surviving son of the priest he had visited under his protection. (See I Samuel 22:1-23 for the story of David’s acceptance of his duty to those impacted by his plight ).
It is true when life becomes hard, it’s a necessary thing to grieve. In fact, it is one of the recovery principles for those who have brought their troubles on themselves.
In addition to grieving, though, we ought to develop our sense of responsibility for our lives and the fate of those close to us. The grief eventually has to turn into positive action away from the confusion.
The required step forward is to do the things necessary to turn the chaos in our lives around and do the same for our loved ones. This move toward health is obligatory, especially if we have been the direct cause of the disorder in the lives of others, but even if we haven’t.
Maybe like Bobby Hattawaywe are honorable people for whom life has just dones its worst. On the other hand, we may have been similar to Stu Croker and out of corrupt hearts done dirt to ourselves and others.
In any case, it’s our duty to change things. However, we can’t do it on our own.
At the end of movie, one of the townspeople remarks to Bobby, who is walking on the arm of his new bride,”There his is, the ‘Lo-o-o-ne Rider’.”
Bobby replies,”Used to be. Used to be. Not anymore”. Bobby had friends and loved ones in his corner now.
Coming out of the hell we have made for ourselves or have had made for us, we can’t be a lone rider. We need others. More than anyone, we especially need God.