Joseph Yule, Jr. –better known to the world by his stage name Mickey Rooney, passed away last week. He was 93. I never had the privilege of meeting him personally, but like many of you, I had only seen him in the movies.
I prayed for him from time to time because I knew he had the opportunity as a Christian brother to be a witness to Hollywood, and God knows how they need that. What? Mickey Rooney a Christian brother? Wasn’t he married 8 times? Didn’t he have a sordid past with drugs and alcohol as a younger man?
Yes, I’m afraid that Mickey too was sick and needed a physician–as Jesus Christ once described it. I remember seeing him on the Mike Douglas Show (or was it Merv Griffin?) when I was younger. I stood amazed at how the host and another guest berated him openly about that past. He took it for a while and then demanded that they give him the opportunity to defend himself. They said that they had to jump to a commercial but he stood his ground and said they weren’t going to a commercial until he had said his peace.
THEN, calmly and clearly, he gave the purest gospel message that I have ever heard on national television before or since. He admitted that he was a sinner and that he was sure he had disappointed his Lord many times in the past. He told them that his salvation was not based upon his good works or any of his own efforts to stop sinning. His salvation was based only upon his faith in his personal Savior, Jesus Christ who had died on the cross to pay for his sins. They then went quickly to a commercial and when they returned he was gone.
Yes, Mickey was a sinner. I’m sure you’ll hear plenty about that this month. But the world that day heard the message of what salvation is all about and how to receive it. Praise the Lord for Mickey Rooney. And thank God for salvation by grace, through faith. And that not of ourselves. It is a gift from God. Not by works lest any man should boast.