Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

Better Is One Day In Walnut Ridge, Arkansas?


I’m going to take a risk here, show some real vulnerability, and reveal a pretty deep personal secret.  Are you ready? Am I?  Doesn’t matter because here goes.  Ok…I…love…informercials.

I love them.

Look, my philosophy on commercials (which my kids have already memorized) is either: mute them or fast-forward them.  Our saying is: “We don’t watch commercials.”

But infomercials?  Those are different.  Way different.  Maybe it’s the acting, maybe it’s the inventiveness of the products, maybe it’s the outrageous claims…there’s something about informercials that when I see one, I WILL watch it(to my wife’s everlasting chagrin).

Take this one.  How amazing is this infomercial?

Can you believe the audacity of the MagneScribe?  Are you ready to give out the Academy Award to the people in this?  That lady drops her pen and she just caaaaaan’t reach it. Someone doesn’t know how to put a cap on a pen.  Classic.

My favorite part is the lady USING a MagneScribe pen to ORDER more MagneScribe pens on the phone.  What a time to be alive.

It’s a QUICK DRAW DYNAMO!” Maybe you think that’s about the goofiest claim you’ve heard in a while.

Then again, maybe you don’t know about Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.

When The Beatles…Visited……Sort Of

Back in 1964, the absolute heyday of the Beatles popularity, a strange thing happened (shoutout to Hopper, Dustin, and Joyce!) in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.  The Beatles had performed at a concert in Dallas and were going to have a quick getaway at a ranch in Missouri before flying to New York for their final tour stop.

It just so happened that on the way from Dallas to Missouri, the Beatles were to land and switch planes on a small secluded runway out in a small town of Arkansas.  This would allow them to do so unnoticed and undisturbed.

After midnight on September 19th, the Beatles plane coming from Dallas was circling the runway.  Of course, in a quaint little town like that, late-night landings were extremely rare, so three local boys noticed and went to see what was happening.  I can say “to their complete surprise” but that won’t do justice to what these three local boys saw:  THE BEATLES…IN WALNUT RIDGE, ARKANSAS.  The unlikeliest of the unlikeliest.

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The story spread like the wildest of fires and the rumor was even more tantalizing: the Beatles would fly BACK to the Walnut Ridge airport on Sunday after their retreat to change planes and fly to New York.

Of course the people of Walnut Ridge came out in full force that Sunday to try and catch a glimpse of the Beatles.  Mind you, this was JUST for the briefest of moments as the guys moved from one plane to another.  That’s it.  Just a few minutes.  Didn’t matter — the people had camcorders out.  Teens were singing songs from the Beatles catalog.  The anticipation and excitement were boundless.  Sure enough, the guys appeared for a moment as they boarded their final plane and left, never again to return to this place.

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You may think, “well, that’s cute.  A few moments of excitement for a small town in Arkansas.  They got to see the Beatles for about 5 minutes.  Congratulations.  Time to get back to normal.”

But, what if it never did?

The Lasting Impact

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas was NEVER the same.   To THIS day, that brief personal encounter with the Fab Four has left the town changed.  They’ve built a monument to the moment.

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They’ve built a guitar-shaped plaza that mimics the same guitars the Beatles used.  There’s even a festival held every year to commemorate the “almost-visit.”

Can you get your mind around that?  People in this little place were so affected by just a fleeting glimpse of the Beatles that even now, the impacts are felt.  They’ve built an entire identity and reputation on those 5 minutes.  Everything was forever changed because of this.

Wouldn’t it be great if that were true for us too?

Better Is One Day

When I first heard of this, I scoffed and joked at the expense of these people.  “Seriously?  This is a thing?  The Beatles were there for a FEW MINUTES.  They can’t just get over this?”

Then I happened to reread Psalm 84.

The Psalmist in this particular psalm is writing about a real, deep longing to be near God in His house.  He begins in verse 1 like this: “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!  My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the Living God.”

Then he closes it out with these profound truths in verses 10-12 “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!”

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It was then that I was confronted with the goodness of Walnut Ridge.  Are they focusing their adoration and worship (and make no mistake, it’s worship!) on the wrong thing?  Absolutely.  A rock-band can never satisfy their deepest longings and save their soul.  A rock-band can’t give purpose and meaning to life.  The Beatles can’t save your soul.

But are they a living picture of a truth of Scripture?  Yes they are.

Simply put – what if you and I were as affected by encountering the Living God as these people and their encounter with mere humans who happened to play instruments and sing?

What if everything changed for us like it changed for them?  What if our hearts were so transformed by seeing and grasping the glory of God that we never could “get over it,” and there was no going back to normal?

What if the truth of Scripture became our new normal in that we were so desperate to be closer to God that we indeed counted 5 minutes in His presence to be better than 1,000 days anywhere else?

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Are we so contented with earthly pursuits and temporary things that we no longer pay attention to the deep longing in our hearts for what is real, true, and eternal?

Let’s finish by remembering things that help us.  Grab your MagneScribe and write these down…..

Informercials Vs God

The claims of the informercials are exaggerated and gimmicky.  The promises of the life-changing happiness brought on by a pen that attaches to a necklace will never hold up.  A MagneScribe can only do so much for you.

Our God is different than pens.  Our God is greater than the Beatles.

He doesn’t simply make a claim, He backs it up.  He holds to His promises now and forevermore.  He keeps His covenant love.  That is why He is a Sun and a Shield for His people.

He doesn’t merely visit us at a distance for mere moments.  He doesn’t just come down here for 5 minutes.  He came NEAR to us.  He walked here with us, He faced what we face, He LIVED here with us.  He came not to avoid the masses of people, but to save them.  He came to die for us.

God does not withhold any good thing; He is the God who has given us the BEST thing in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  That is why the people who trust in Him are truly and eternally HAPPY!

There is nothing better in this life than to experience the glorious presence of the Living God.  If you had thousands and thousands of days to spend anywhere else, it would not compare to knowing and experiencing the gracious unbreakable love of God.

He changes everything.  In the right type of way.

He is worth it.

Now, how will you spend these next moments that you have?

Thanks for reading.  Your comments and insights are always welcomed.  If you enjoyed this, please share it.  Want more content?  Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.

One comment on “Better Is One Day In Walnut Ridge, Arkansas?

  1. Rebecca Humbert
    November 1, 2016

    I really enjoyed this Josh! One thing though…I don’t think there were camcorders when the Beatles came to town! 😬

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