In my column several weeks back, I said that I used to love watching NBC’s Sunday Night Movie Mysteries. It stirred something within me that made me revisit one of the series' rotating shows.
Dennis Weaver, who made his claim to fame as Marshall Dillon’s deputy on the Western Gunsmoke, returned to the small screen, as Deputy Marshall Sam McCloud. McCloud aired on NBC from Sept. 16, 1970, to April 17, 1977.
The fictional Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud came to the Big Apple from a small western town in Taos, New Mexico. They loaned him to the New York City Police Department (NYPD), as a special investigator. The reoccurring theme in every program was the supposed conflict seen between the good-natured, clear-eyed buoyancy of McCloud and the metropolitan hard-nosed cynicism of New York City residents.
The signature of McCloud's character was his western unflappability and seeming inability to recognize an insult, especially from his NYPD superior, Chief of Detectives Peter B. Clifford, played wonderfully by J.D. Cannon.
At the beginning of every episode, it appeared that Clifford wanted no part of giving McCloud any assignment of substance. One of my favorite assignments given to McCloud was helping a lonely beaver in the Central Park Zoo, but McCloud was not the “hick from the sticks” everyone assumed he was.
McCloud always seemed to find himself solving another crime and rescuing the damsel in distress, as might be better known in Dodge City. McCloud's attire typically featured a sheepskin coat or western jacket, bolo tie, and his signature cowboy hat and boots that allowed for implied comic relief in many encounters with New Yorkers.
Under his jacket or coat, he usually wore a khaki uniform shirt with a brown star-shaped uniform patch, with gold trim on the left sleeve lettered, "Marshal's Office Taos, N.M." A yellow circle was in the center, with the number 33. He wore two collar pins, one was "NM" and the other was "33."
McCloud carried a blued .45 Colt SAA western-style six-shooter, with a four and three-quarter barrel. McCloud was the embodiment of the American law officer who always sees the good in people but knows the real stakes, and he spares no pain to catch the bad guy.
The character's catchphrase, which was a must on television in the 1970s, was, “there ya go.” Another memorable moment was when a character, played by John Denver at the end of the show that he guest-starred in, traded catchphrases with Weaver. Denver responded "there ya go," and McCloud chimed in with, "far out."
I decided to write about McLeod and me because many times, others who think they know you will attempt to pigeonhole and typecast you into who or what they think you should be. They underestimate your talent and don’t factor in the difference faith in Jesus makes in your character and personality.
I have strenuously tried to never judge anyone instantly because to do so shows laziness. Before you send somebody out to play a position, at least do your homework and know what somebody brings to the table.
How many times have you pre-judged someone only to find out later that your perceptions were way off base? You probably don’t like when an authority of yours doesn’t give you a fair shake. Why, then, would you believe doing this to another is acceptable?
Take a look at Jesus. When He came on scene, He did not look, talk, walk, or live like what the religious establishment had pre-ordained Him to be, so in too many cases, the crowds walked by the Christ who just happened to be in their midst.
Jesus, in many ways, was like McCloud. The avant-garde was in tune with the Savior from Nazareth because they were already out of the box that society tries to squeeze us into.
When will Christians accept that their God is experimental, radical, and truly unorthodox concerning how to get it done on earth?
Status-quo has got to go. Apathy is a trap you see. Man-made boundaries need to be tested, especially if God is calling you to go beyond the tightly woven legalism of an insecure congregation.
There are those precious miraculous moments that Jesus invites us to add much-needed color outside the lines. McCloud was always a courteous guy, but he would not be locked into desk work when he knew he was called to make a difference outside the building's walls.
As a pastor, I have always believed that my real call is not to hide safely inside The Lighthouse Church's steel frame. The Lord is calling us to risk it all by loving the unlovely, bringing hope to the helpless, and loving God by being Jesus in the skin to all those for whom we come in contact.
I am not looking for the bench, and instead, I want the coach to put me in the game. I want to be challenged because that is the way I am authentically changed.
Looking like a member of the clergy will never satisfy me. I want to be practicing what I preach in how I behave.
Remember, our ultimate unconditional obedience should only be given to God. He is the only one I need to submit to with no questions asked.
There will be a time when a boss, teacher, coach or friend will try betraying your future with a simple kiss of compromise. Watch who those lips are kissing up to. What profits a man if he gains the adulation of this present dimension only to discover that he has forfeited his soul in the process?
If God puts you in a situation for such a time as this to ignore playing it safe so you can follow through in radical faith, like Queen Esther, ditch the desk, grab your badge, and pony up.
This is one time I relate more to McCloud than I ever did to the chief. Titles come and go, but destinies are a matter of the heart.
What script will drive your story?
ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.