The following is an excerpt from an article entitled, “The One Who Returned Home” by Naomi Zacharias on page 14 of the recent http://www.rzim.org quarterly newsletter (Spring 2017, I believe). She quotes a letter that recounts a story from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, about a friend who was a Navy SEAL. The closing remarks are from Naomi. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did! JJ
(The Navy SEAL) was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a dark part of the world. When they entered the room, it was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. The SEALs initially stood at the door and called to the prisoners. They identified themselves and asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t move. Alienated and frightened, they instead hid their eyes in fear.
This particular SEAL put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages. He was trying to show them he was one of them. After meeting their eyes, the Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them. “Will you follow us?” he said. The man stood to his feet. First one prisoner did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go.
(The person sharing this story) reminded me that Miller concluded this: “I never liked it when the preacher said we had to follow Jesus. Sometimes they would make him sound angry. But I liked (this story instead). I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust him, and I liked that he healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.”
(The storyteller) shared that it reminded her of what Jesus has been for her. But it struck me how she has embodied this message in her ministry. (The storyteller’s name is Analise.)
When Analise hit rock bottom, the reason she found safety in (a program called) the Word Made Flesh is because they were willing to sit in that place with her; they remember their own lostness and the mutual need for a Savior who rescues us. He did not choose to do this in grandiose fashion. No, he chose the utter loneliness and pain of the cross. And so it is he who beckons us by sitting down beside us, showing us he became one of us. He tells us he is our Savior, and he leads us home — so that we may all be the one who returned home.