Press Release – Tom Brokaw lands interview of a lifetime

After turning down offers from Barbara Walters and Geraldo Rivera, Rich Finley has agreed to a one on one interview with Tom Brokaw.  Tom has flown to Rich’s vacation home in Bozeman Montana.  Rich greets him in the driveway.

“Welcome to Bozeman Mr. Brokaw”.

“The pleasure is all mine and please call me Tom.  The ride from the airport was so invigorating.  The mountains are so majestic, it’s like a painting.”  Tom replied.

“Yes, we call it our 1000 mile view.  I love bringing people here to see God’s creation.  He’s such an artist and he’s just showing off in this country.  I own 1000 acres here, would you like to see the views?”

“That would be great” Tom replied as he climbed into the Ranger. 

As the pair headed up the mountain Tom couldn’t stop talking about the amazing views and crisp fresh air.  ” I notice how well groomed these trails are.” He said. “Do you hire someone to maintain your property?”

“No, I do it all myself.  I enjoy the time alone in God’s country.  I feel like it’s the only place my soul can breathe.  It’s out here that I can find myself and truly come alive”.  Just then Rich stopped the Ranger and pointed out a magnificent 10 point buck that was drinking from one of the 4 streams on the property.  You could tell that Tom was taken in by the scene as a quiet peace came over him.  Continuing up the mountain, Tom broke the silence by asking “what do you do with this property?”

“Mostly I vacation here with my family.  My boys love to hunt and fish and my wife and daughter enjoy watching the wild life and reading by the pond.  I also guide hunts for wounded warriors and young children just starting out.  I also enjoy letting my friends and extended family use it for their vacations.  It’s a pretty special place.”

As the Ranger passed a grove of Aspens Tom looked to the top of the snow covered peak to where a rock protruded from the summit.  “That’s what I call Look Out Point” Rich explained.  “It’s where I go to pray and recharge.  The views are the best in the world and the world just falls away when I’m up there.  It’s a supernatural experience.”

Tom seemed lost in the magic as the Ranger crept to a crawl so Tom could see the herd of elk staring back at him.  The large bull was herding his cows back into the majestic pines.  The moment seemed eternal. A reflecting back to ancient of days.  A gut feeling of “This is as I was meant to be”.  A transcendent connection to generations past and those yet to come.  By this point, Tom was almost hypnotized in tranquility and was only jarred back by the screeching of a bald eagle.  Suddenly remembering that he had an interview to do, he asked ”  How many animals do you see here?”

“Over the years we’ve seen moose, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys and bear, but we see mule deer, whitetail deer, elk and rams all the time.  I see a lot of owls as well.   Once I was reading a book in my tree stand and a large owl landed on my head.  The sun was at my back and the shadow in front of me made the owl look 4 feet tall.  I froze as he perched there and the weight of the owl was starting to get to me.  He was really heavy.  The book I had been reading was about hearing God’s voice, so while the owl was still on my head I asked God, ” What’s this about?”.  I’ve learned through the years that Jesus is very playful.  For some reason I’ve had many, many birds land on me over the years and many encounters with owls.  Anyway I didn’t hear Gods voice right then ( although I have since) and as my neck was starting to buckle under the weight, the bird suddenly took off to the faint sound of flapping wings and almost effortless flight.  Still smiling, I shook my head and opened my book to the next chapter.  The heading was a scripture.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge

Psalm 91:4

Stuff like that happens all the time here.”

Tom replied:  “You’re telling me that’s a true story?”

” Yes, and I could tell you a 1000 more.  Many people have found what they needed in this environment.   I don’t have cable or internet or TV.  A man needs to unplug every so often for at least 3 days to hear that soft inner voice of truth.  Unplugging with the combination of God’s wild creation….well, that’s a combination for breakthrough. And it’s not always the mountain views.  For some its the ocean, for others the  desert, still others the beach.  It’s so crucial to take the time.  Get off the treadmill.  Quit the rat race.  There are lives at stake!  You do make a difference. Your actions do effect others. ”

By this point Tom is absolutely stunned.  I mean blown away.  He just wanted to report a story accurately, not be brought into all this personal “who am I” questions that he was now entertaining.  But he couldn’t help it.  It felt so true.  He was taken with the thoughts that maybe he too could have an impact beyond this world.  Maybe destiny was set by eternity. Yet we still had a choice.  Hmmm.  Silence as we drove back down the mountain.

All of a sudden the interviewer blurts out ” I tried religion once and it didn’t work!”

I shouldn’t be, but I’m still surprised by the flipping of a switch within a person.  I’ve always admired Tom.  I felt that he reported truthfully to the best of his knowledge.  If he had a personal opinion about a hot topic like gay marriage or abortion or gun control, he didn’t show it.  Like he was honestly seeking truth. But now he was out of character from the tv person I thought I knew.  This is what happens in my presence.  This is my gifting.  For some reason people get real with me. Glancing at his face I could tell he wished he hadn’t of blurted that out, so I asked him to explain the statement.

Tom went on to explain some painful experiences from a 9 month involvement with a new age church that he had been invited to by a Hollywood friend.  As he was wrapping up his experiences with me, we finally arrived back at my cabin nestled at the base of the mountain. Dusk was setting in. There was a thick fog rising above the pond where a dozen geese were settled in for the night.  I started a camp fire and invited Tom inside.

When he walked in he was greeted with the 20 foot tall fireplace built of Colorado sand stone.  The home felt warm and welcoming.  A bull moose hung over the fireplace and there were several large deer heads and stuffed animals scattered around the home.  The walls were adorned with pictures of my family.  The boys in their football uniforms and my daughter posing in one of her many ballroom gowns.  I gave him a quick tour of the home and he seemed to like the library best.  He paused many times to pull out a book and read the synopsis.  I let him keep “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge.  I then quickly showed him my wife’s scrapbooking room.  He could tell by my tongue in cheek comment of how much money was in this room, that I secretly appreciated the creativity of my wife.  Finally I asked if he wanted to see my trophy room.  He politely said “yes”, but I could tell he was expecting a room full of taxidermy.
Tom was genuinely surprised as we walked into my office and he saw no dead animals but pictures of people, pictures of families, pictures of children.  There were hundreds of pictures taped to the walls.  They started at the floor and went up to the ceiling.  “Who are all these people?” Tom asked.
These are people I’ve been blessed to have helped.  People who’s lives have been changed forever and the lives of generations after them.  Each picture tells a story.  Some were healed from past abuse.  Some found a father who loves them for the first time.  Others came seeking their own story instead of living someone else’s.  Many were taught how to own a six figure business so they could serve others more effectively.  All have found who God created them to be.
I saw Tom cringe at the mention of God, but he continued slowly walking around the room trying to take in every picture.  Every so often he would pause and ask about the story behind the picture.  He never commented, just nodded his head.  He became very somber and I could tell he was doing some serious reflection.  After two more stories I led him to the kitchen and we made hot chocolate and went outside.
Darkness had settled in and the clear sky showed stars as bright as diamonds.  At first I was sorry I didn’t get to show Tom the incredible sunsets we get here as the sun slowly drifts below the mountain, but the exceptional stars tonight more than made up for it.  They seemed closer, bigger and brighter.  You couldn’t help but to just stop and stare.  Tom appeared to be in a trance, mouth wide open.  The cool air brought him back and we made our way to what was now a roaring camp fire.  Tom seemed to take great pleasure in throwing on a couple more logs before taking a seat and sipping his drink.  We sat there for at least ten minutes in total silence.  Taking turns staring at the sky and the fire.  The cool air on our backs and the warm fire in front created a magical, peaceful environment.  I broke the silence; ” You know Tom, I don’t like religion either”.  After a long pause, as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to engage, Tom replied ” You don’t? But you keep referring to God and I saw religious trinkets and pictures in your house”.  ” That’s true” I replied. “I’m a huge fan of Jesus, just not man made religion”  He then sort of agreed with me complaining about some of his past observations and I could tell he had a problem with the language.  “What if instead of saying “karma” we said “as ye reap so shall ye sow”?  What if we used the word “calling” instead of “dharma”?  What if all the great teachers are saying the same thing? This discussion went on for quite awhile until Tom suddenly changed gears.  “With the amazing beauty that surrounds me right now, I can’t help but feel that there has to be a master creator, but over my many years of journalism, I’ve seen horrors that are so evil they are unspeakable.  How could a loving God allow such injustice?”  I began to talk about mans free will and the fact that we do have an enemy when I saw Tom glance at his watch.  He jumped in a panic as he was running late to catch the red eye flight home.  I invited Tom to spend the night and he seemed surprised at his own answer when he agreed to do so.  Instantly the panic left and a peace came over him.  We continued to have a relaxing conversation until the fired died down and we went to bed.
The next morning we watched the incredible sunrise over the mountains as we sipped our coffee.  Tom rearranged his schedule and decided to spend the next three days here.  I showed him the saw mill, the gravel pit, the swamps and ponds, the pistol range and finally we shot some clays pigeons.  He really enjoyed that.  After lunch we did some rock climbing and four wheeling.  Tom seemed to get younger and lighter the longer he stayed.  He was like a kid again.  Happy and adventurous.  He took the battery out of his cell phone. The conversations grew deeper, moving from the head to the heart.  We felt like old friends, old war buddies that had been through something heroic together.  Fighting for something much larger than ourselves.
When Tom came down stairs on the morning of day 3, he found my note.
“Dear Tom,
      It has been such a pleasure getting to know you these past few days.  I’m so proud of your courage and how fiercely you fight for truth.  You are a mighty warrior. The door to this home is never locked and you are welcomed back at any time.  I’ve gone home to cherish my family.  May I make a suggestion?  Would you consider spending your final day here up on lookout point with one simple question; “God, what do you think of me?”  I believe the answer will blow your mind.  Enjoy bathing in Fathers affection,
Rich
I didn’t hear from Tom right away, but when I returned three weeks later, there was his picture on my wall.  Tom Brokaw had taped a picture of himself to my wall.  I can’t wait to hear the story!

 

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