True Grit by Elaine Cooper, Author of the Road to Deer Run

I would love to spend half a day in Elaine’s head. Freeway billboards, sci-fi’s and yep, even old movies, lead to thought provoking devotions. Today she’s here to share the joys of Hollywood–Elaine style. Lights, camera…Bible study! (If you don’t catch my joke, simply nod and smile, nod and smile.)

TRUE GRIT (for His Glory)

By Elaine Cooper

Imagine the excitement in my husband’s eyes when I told him that I needed to watch the old version of “True Grit” for my book research.

“Awesome!” he so enthusiastically replied. We had recently seen the newer version at the theatre and were very impressed not only with the acting, but also with the beautiful Texas scenery highlighted in the 2010 movie. But my historian/consultant in Massachusetts recommended the older version of the movie that showed a commonly used river transport from the 19th century. Although my novel I am researching takes place in the 18th century, ferry technology had apparently remained stable for quite some time.

Since the library copy of “True Grit” was checked out, we decided to just buy one at—you guessed it—WalMart. We inserted the shiny new DVD. Steve and I displayed our most astute movie critic poses in front of the screen, practically daring the 1969 movie to out-perform the new. Well, weren’t we surprised that in many respects, the old was far superior. The Duke won the contest.

But it wasn’t just Wayne’s believable performance as crusty U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn that swayed Steve and I; it was the emotion portrayed by Kim Darby as Miss Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old bent on avenging her father’s death. Eyeing Rooster at his toughest, Mattie declares with teenage conviction and smugness, “He has TRUE grit.”

So what exactly is true grit? I decided to pose the question to several fairly alert adults in our Sunday morning Bible study. Sustained by coffee and spiritually refreshed from church service, the participants in my non-scientific survey did not fail me. Answers came quicker than I could write them down.

My husband of course, had to give his humorous take: “True grit means that it’s time to change the vacuum cleaner bag.” He’s so funny (insert groan)…but I DO appreciate his dedication to using our Dyson regularly, thus sparing my nurse-fatigued back.

Other participants were more serious.

Rick said, “It’s having a backbone—guts.”

“Perseverance,” said Teri. “Having resolve.”

And Joe said right-to-the-point, “It’s someone who knows what he stands for.”

Ah, yes.

Rooster Cogburn knew what he stood for. He represented the law in his territory and he was not above placing himself in danger to carry out that resolve. Ever wonder why he had to wear a patch over one eye?

Picture Marshal Cogburn. He’s not exactly swarthy. He’s out of shape and looks like he’s seen a few too many gunfights. But he stays focused on not one but four armed outlaws ready to take him on. He sits up in the saddle, pulls out his handgun with one hand and his rifle with the other. He doesn’t run away but he faces his enemies and meets them head-on—with resolve, perseverance, and guts. Rooster really knows what he stands for.

Do we as Christians have true grit? Are we intimidated by the spiritual bullets that fire at us because we feel outnumbered? Or do we resist them with confidence in the Lord and His Word—in His ability to shoot down the adversary with spiritual weapons of righteousness? Not self-righteouness—but HIS righteousness.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 it reads:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (NIV)

We all get excited by the “power” promised in this verse. We’re ready to be strong like Rooster and pull out our six shooters to gun down the attacks of the enemy. But the subsequent words can get lost if we’re not careful. Let’s start with the word “love.”

And while we are talking about adversaries and enemies, let’s be astute about pointing out that we are to “love” our earthly enemies. The adversaries that we are to fight against are the spiritual ones that war against our souls. We are to make every attempt to be peacemakers with those who are not our friends. Sometimes that works better than others, since we live in a fallen world. Sin separates people. But we are to always love, even our enemies.

But it’s the third word in the verse in Timothy that is a stickler for all of us: self-discipline. It’s not just talking about resisting that dessert or being better at exercising regularly, although these are noble disciplines. We need to be spiritually disciplined. Just like we need healthy foods for strong bodies, strong spirits will not be nourished by avoiding God’s Word or starving ourselves from prayer time alone with our Heavenly Father. We need spiritual sustenance to be strong in the Lord. It takes a self-disciplined walk with the Savior to be spiritually ready to resist the attacks of the real enemy—Satan.

I can never read this section of Scripture often enough from the book of Ephesians. It talks about being ready and prepared for spiritual battle:

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”   Ephesians 6: 10-20 (NIV)

We can be as fearless as Rooster Cogburn facing his enemies. We don’t want to face the battle on our own strength, however, but with the power behind the sword of the spirit. We can have true grit, for His glory.

Elaine Marie Cooper grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in the Midwest with her husband Steve, her three dogs and one huge cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandbabies, who are often referred to (by her) as “the most beautiful grandbabies in the world.” Elaine’s only daughter, Bethany, passed away in 2003 from a brain tumor.

A retired registered nurse, Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years, and is a regular contributor to a blog on the Midwest called The Barn Door ( and Reflections. She is also the author of her debut novel called The Road to Deer Run and is currently writing the sequel.

Elaine Cooper can be reached on FaceBook or visit her website at:

About The Road to Deer Run

The year is 1777 and the colonies of America are at war with England. In the midst of this fierce and painful conflict, two enemies—a wounded British soldier and a colonial farmwoman—are brought together through circumstances that challenge their fortitude, their faith and their ability to forgive. In the struggle comes healing and love. But as their destinies become intertwined, so do the forces that oppose them.

What Are Reviewers Saying about “The Road to Deer Run”?

“A heartwarming love story, sensitively written and a well-researched bit of American history. The book has a solid faith-based perspective that sets it apart.”

—   Jean LemMom, former Editor, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

“A captivating tale of love, honor, redemption, and patriotism….Cooper breathes life into her characters and their world in an entertaining way with generous details and facts.”

—   Wanda Ventling, Editor in Chief, Life: Beautiful Magazine

“With subplots as appealing as the main story, the book is well researched, well written, and well worth the purchase price. Ready for the sequel.”

— Kirkus Discoveries Reviews

“The Road to Deer Run” is available at:


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