Revisiting a Beloved True Inspirational Story

David Wilkerson's The Cross and the Switchblade is a classic true inspirational story and a testament to the astonishing things that can happen when you claim a bold faith.

by - Posted on Oct 24, 2011

Stories of Hope blogger David Morris

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, I remember having a comic book based on the best seller The Cross and the Switchblade. Written by David Wilkerson, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill (who remain editors for Guideposts magazine), it’s the story of a country preacher from Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, who felt God calling him to serve Latino teens in New York in the late 1950s-early 1960s.

On the small paperback copy that I have, the book is touted as “A True Story—The Best-Selling Inspirational Adventure of All Time!” I remember hearing about it and seeing it on the bookshelves in homes of family members and friends. Published in different editions and languages over the years, The Cross and the Switchblade not only became a comic book but also a movie and, according to Elizabeth Sherrill’s site, a dramatic adaptation for the stage.

Funny thing is, I never read the book. It’s almost as if I never felt the need to. I knew all I needed to know: It’s a testament to the astonishing things that can happen when you claim a bold faith, to not hold back when you sense God leading you to do something extraordinary.

But now I am, indeed, reading the book, and finding that after all these years, it holds up. The storytelling is compelling, Wilkerson is a remarkable person, and many of the events throughout the book are incredible.

I won’t go into all of that here, but I would like to touch briefly on one of the more quiet moments early in the book. Wilkerson takes a trip to see his grandfather, whom he describes as a dramatic Pentecostal preacher. It’s a formative moment for Wilkerson.

Below is the quote that sums it up for me. And I hope, even though you don’t have the whole context, you’ll find a little inspiration for your day. It’s about what happens when you take risks, try something new and step out in faith.

From Grandpap Wilkerson: “When you have power and life, you’re going to be robust, and when you’re robust, you’re probably going to make some noise, which is good for you, and you’re certainly going to get your boots dirty.”

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