800 Pacos


He was a man’s man. A tough guy.

He lived hard, fast and free, with no discernible moral restraint or conscience.

His colorful life ran the gamut from fighting bulls and running with them to being one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. His resume popped and sizzled with entries like lion hunter, globe-trotter, war hero, womanizer, Hollywood celebrity, expert fisherman and he could drink you under the table. For a time he was the most well-known figure of the last century and though his oeuvres are canonized in modern literature, his philanders were legendary.

If I told you the man I just described was a miserable wretch, would you believe me? Before you answer, consider these plaintive words, spoken autobiographically:

“I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead, and there is no current to plug into.”

Alcohol-related depression plagued him and he received shock therapy to reduce the depression and paranoia. Tragically, the therapy caused him to lose his memory and thusly, his writing skills. He left Mayo Clinic one day in the middle of treatments and returned to his home in Ketchum, Idaho. In the early hours of a July Sunday, Ernest Hemingway, the man who had lived such a storied life, decided living was too painful, so he rose from his bed, went to his basement and carefully picked out a shotgun among his collection. When he returned to the upstairs foyer, he found a place to sit down and placed the barrel of the shotgun between his teeth and blew the top of his head off. It was just a few weeks before his 62nd birthday.

What is rarely known about Mr. Hemingway is that he was born to parents who were devout in their relationship with Jesus Christ. He was raised in a home that could adequately be characterized as evangelical. His dad, a doctor who practiced in the suburbs of Chicago, was a personal friend of D.L. Moody, and young Ernest was himself a dedicated churchgoer into his youth.

After leaving home to join the war, Hemingway abandoned his earlier professed faith. So much death and debauchery challenged his thinking about God and his rebellion showed in his writing. His earliest works so horror-struck his parents they returned the volumes to his publisher and all ties were severed.

It is interesting that one of Hemingway’s short stories The Capital of the World hints at the autobiographical. The story deals with the falling out between a father and his teenage son and the son’s resultant flight from home. Over time, the father was so distraught over the broken relationship he searched all over Spain for his boy but to no avail. Finally, he took out an ad in a local newspaper with the words: “Paco, Meet At Montana Hotel Noon Tuesday. All is Forgiven. Papa.”

On Tuesday at noon, as the story goes, over 800 Pacos showed up, looking to be restored to their father. Each had hoped the message was for them.

That story gets me on so many levels. Of course, it can address what Eldredge’s Wild At Heart calls the “father wound” that is found in so many men and boys in today’s society. It is true that men are tragically estranged from their fathers and consequently from the fullness of their own manhood. But in the context of this post, and my futile wish that the story of Ernest Hemingway could have played out differently, I wonder if “Papa” (his nickname) saw himself throughout life not as the main Paco of his story so much as the 800 Pacos who would not be given the satisfaction of forgiveness.

The demons he lived with were unpardonable tyrants. He saw no way out.

And so he reached for a shotgun.

And the blast could not drown the cacophony of 800 plaintive wails released from his dying soul with the single pull of a trigger.

I realize the whole of my limited readership are those who follow Christ but every once in a while someone stumbles across this page who has no idea why they did. Perhaps, just maybe (especially if you’ve read this far) you are not here by some random improbability. And so, before you click off, I want to say…

Cry Out To Jesus.

Believe me, you are being lied to. That bottle sitting by your bedside. That strange woman you are bedding. Or want to. That next fix you are dying for. The invitation you received to that wild party. Even your vain philosophy. The code you live by: I’m the Captain of My Soul. The estrangement from your family. The penthouse, the pearls, the pools. The porn, the booze.

Lies. All lies.

Remember what this so-called modern man said of his own piteous life?

“I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead, and there is no current to plug into.”

You feel like that, don’t you?

You will never find what you’re looking for until you give yourself completely over to the One who can silence the inner cries of your 800 Pacos and set them free. He will set you free and make you a son, a citizen of a new Kingdom. Until you allow the Son of God to reign over your life, you are subjecting yourself to the reign of another, and that is called bondage. Stop kidding yourself. You keep chasing the wind, you’ll reap the whirlwind.

Turn to Christ, not to religion.

Do it now.

800 Pacos are waiting.


12 thoughts on “800 Pacos

  1. J.Thomas says:

    Praise the Lord, my brother.

    “All is forgiven. Papa.”

    How sweet is the Love of God!


  2. timbob says:

    Greetings. This is some information that I wasn’t aware of. The spiritual warfare is intense and and I can only imagine how Ernists parents were heartbroken by their sons turning to elements of the world in pursuit of satisfaction. A pursuit that can only end in tragedy as this world has nothing to offer. Thanks for posting this.

    Have a blesed day in Jesus.



  3. An excellent post. I have always loved Hemingway’s works.


  4. pasturescott says:

    The Lord’s blessings to you, JT. Your life obviously has a grasp of the deep, unconditional love of God. It is absolutely sweet!

    Timbob, yeah, it hits home in our house (no pun intended). We are believing the Lord that the story we live in will end MUCH differently, by Christ! Thank you for blessing me tonight, brother.

    TT, I see that cool avatar of yours all over the place. Thank you for putting it here, my friend.


  5. J.Thomas says:

    My life really has no other choice.

    Let’s not lose heart, brothers.

    An older brother once said that, “The Father sees to it that all things work together to crowd us more and more into Christ”.

    This resonates deeply within me, and gives me the hope that even vanity itself is a precision tool used by the Master Craftsman in the construction of His House of Many Mansions.

    Lets believe that the Lord hears are prayers, and that our tears are of eternal value.


  6. I actually read two Hemingway novels while I was on spring break in the Bahamas, not far from his favorite fishing spot. It was a great experience.


  7. Darla says:

    naaaaaaaaa don’t go to either..just delete!

    Hope your graduation for your son is going well..or gone well..mmmmm how about some pics? hope you are well, praying for you this morning..


  8. Darla says:

    Hey Bro, I got one word for your blog…add Akismet…it will keep this kind of stuff off your blog.

    Praying for you and hope all is well!


  9. pasturescott says:

    Darla, I have had it enabled for some time…somehow this stuff still eeks and oozes through…how?!?…what?!?…

    Any suggestions?

    Oh, and we are wonderful! The weekend was TOTALLY wonderful, unforgettable and a great blessing for our great kid! Thank you for your thoughts and I will indeed get some pics up soon. We are officially on a much needed vacation through Sunday…pray for mental and physical rest. Bless you, my precious Sis in Christ!

    Love to you and yours…

    P.S. I’ll go see what trouble I’m in at your site now that I’ve been tagged!


  10. Darla says:

    before you delete those comments that sneak in (via your “comments”) click spam first, that will at least start tagging them, and block them from you..still have some that sneak through but that is what I am doing and I dont see the same ones..its a battle huh? Glad things went well, looking forward to your pics…and definitely praying for you all!


  11. obama chavez says:

    I really liked your blog article! Please keep up the good work. Thanks!


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