Recently, while running, I came upon an older gentleman with hat on that said “Army Vet.” I was immediately prompted to thank him for his service because I’ve lived through sending a brother off to war. I’ve wrestled with not knowing if he would return alive. I’ve heard his stories. The sacrifice is real.
Immediately, he told me his name was Joe and explained he was an Army medic. It was a pretty surface conversation initially. Joe went on to tell me how he was shot while saving a fellow soldier on the battlefield.
Right then, Holy Spirit prompted me, “ask Him about Jesus.” I don’t like that I’m always hesitant in sharing Jesus. I love Jesus and I want to share His life-giving power, but I find myself doubting my words so much that oftentimes I shy away from it. But, hesitantly I asked, “did you come to know Jesus during this time?”
Naively, I thought I would share Jesus with Joe, but the truth is he already radiated Jesus from head to toe. For three miles we walked together and he shared Jesus story after Jesus story of God’s faithfulness in his life.
Being shot at 18 years old, 13 major surgeries, twice having open heart surgery, battling cancer, having three girls(two adopted), losing his wife unexpectedly to cancer … the stories went on and on and on. Yet, of all the stories he told, one stuck with me.
“One day, I went out to save a soldier and I was also shot. Right here.” Lifting his shirt, Joe revealed a scar on the right side of his stomach. Joe went on to say, “I knew right then that God doesn’t make mistakes. It wasn’t my time. Jesus had a plan for my life. And He continues to reveal those plans through all the circumstances of my life.
“So I’m always talking about Jesus,” Joe said proudly. “To anyone. I don’t care what you look like. It doesn’t matter what our skin color is; our hearts look the same. And they’re all in need of Jesus. Every moment of every day. How could I not talk about Jesus?! How could I not ask Jesus, ‘Today how can I help? What do you have for me today? Who do you have for me today?’ You see, you are my sister. And I see everyone like I saw that soldier that day: mortally wounded needing to be saved.”
You have to understand what’s so remarkable about this for me. Post Charleston, I began to ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart. There is so much division in this world and I don’t want to be part of that.
But you know what I discovered?
I am part of the problem.
This has nothing to do with skin or gender or nationality or anything else that’s different from me. No, it’s much deeper than that. I haven’t opened my eyes to see the hearts of others and it has caused a sinful indifference in my own heart.
The cure is not to love a skin color or gender or nationality more.
The cure is that by God’s grace we would love the hearts of others more.
I need to love the hearts of others more. I need to celebrate what’s different – whatever that might be – and see through to the heart.
I want to see a heart in need and tell them that Jesus is life. That there’s power in His name. I want to recall to others that my heart was mortally wounded too – but Jesus changed everything. He took my hand and led me to a new life in Him. He’s given me a new identity. He’s given me a new heritage. Jesus. Is. Life. Everything else is just clutter aside from Him and His best for you.
Friends, the vision of seeing hearts mortally wounded and in desperate need of Jesus trumps skin color, lifestyle choices, gender, and bank accounts. Jesus levels the playing field. We’re all just bleeding hearts in need of Jesus every hour of every day. And maybe if we would be willing to stop, see who is around us, respond to His prompting and speak Jesus’ name, we might see someone come alive in Christ.
Or perhaps we’ll receive the blessing of meeting a brother like Joe, whose life, history and skin color are completely different from mine, yet we are one because of the blood of Jesus. And we’ll walk for miles, telling Jesus stories, celebrating the One who made us beautifully different and shed His blood for our mortally wounded hearts.
Let’s refuse to live only surrounded by what looks, feels and acts like us. Let’s reject the divisiveness of this world. Let’s spend time reflecting and truly understanding where we’d be without Christ. Then, let’s be His hands and feet. There is a battlefield full of hearts that need Jesus.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it’s the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, the to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16