My father grew up in Kentucky, with many brothers and sisters in a coal mining community. Their home would best be described as a shack, that rested on Cox's hill near Manchester Kentucky. They were poor, and if you were lucky you got a pair of shoes once a year, and mother made you some new clothes, but most of the time it was hand me downs.
In those days there was lots of Moon Shining going on because it was illegal to buy alcohol, and most everybody partook as it was one of the few things to do living in those ole muddy crags. For fun, the Cox boys liked to make their own toys. So when they weren't fighting, they journeyed into the junk yards to see what they could find.
One of their favorite inventions was a giant sling shot, made from truck inter tubes stretched from tree to tree. With it they could make a brick fly like a common stone from a traditional slingshot. It would just go on forever.
My dad quit school after grade school, because that seemed to be enough. Though he had little formal education, he was very bright. When I was in school, I would race him, usually with 3 digit numbers in addition, subtraction or multiplication problems. He could do the numbers in his head faster than I could type them into a calculator!
Now in those days, young boys worked those coal mines just like the men. My dad worked in them too. One day, my father didn't want to go in for some reason. So, his brother volunteered to cover for him. Tragically, a gas leak filled the mine my uncle was working in, and he was killed. His name was JOHNNY, he was about 12 years old. My father never knew how to deal with it, and took to alcohol. He was an alcoholic the rest of his life, and like many alcoholics, had many bad relationships and alienated many of his children.
When I was growing up my dad kept telling me, "Your name is Johnny! It is not John, Jonathan, or anything else, your name is Johnny." I heard this over and over again, but I never understood why it was such a big deal. As I grew up, I found out my father was married previously and had named another son Johnny, but they had many problems and never saw each other after Johnny turned eighteen. Johnny hated my dad's drinking, and though I have never met him, I understand what it's like to grow up with an alcoholic.
When I heard the story of how my uncle died in the coal mine, things began to make sense. I realized I was a memorial, a living testimony to my dads feelings of responsibility. Every time my dad called my name, he was remembering his guilt. He would never allow himself to forget.
When my dad died, I told this story at his funeral. My sister did not know it, my other brother did not know it, and my older brother Johnny, who did not come to the funeral, did not know it either. It was at the funeral that I met brother's son. He had a boy he named Johnny, who had a son he named Johnny. I introduced him to my son, who I had named Johnny. We all finally understood why a man named Sam, had left such a legacy.
Johnny died in Sam's place. Jesus died in our place. Every time my father called out his name he was reminded of his own guilt. By contrast, every time we call Jesus name we are reminded of our forgiveness.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Known as an expert in all he surveys, he freely shares his opinions on politics, science & theology using diatribes based upon careless research from tertiary sources that presupposed what he thought in the first place.