I think I saw Jesus today.
He didn’t look like I expected, but I am absolutely positive it was Him.
And to make this chance sighting even more wonderful, today is Valentine’s Day.
Seeing Jesus on Valentine’s Day. How cool is that?
Here’s how it happened.
About three weeks ago a gentleman in our church lost his beloved wife of fifty-three years. They had met when he was a young sailor in the Navy. He was a poor South Dakota farmboy. (Born under a blanket in the back of a buckboard wagon in the driving blizzard on the way from the farm to the doctor’s house in town.) She was a petite four foot eleven stunning beauty of Portuguese decent with olive skin, jet-black hair, deep brown eyes and an amazing smile.
He first laid eyes on here when he walked into a California dancehall with a buddy while on few days of leave. One look was all it took for him to be completely smitten. One dance was all it took for him to be determined to make her his wife.
On one of few dates they would have together, he took her out to a diner for coffee. It was all he could afford with the few dollars to his name at the time. He had just enough money for two cups of coffee and all the time in the world. However, when his date ordered the club sandwich, fries and a soda, the love-smitten sailor was left to drink the free glass of water that came with the table.
But it was worth every dime. He was hopelessly in love.
A month later they were married. He insists it was she who popped the big question. They had only a few days before he would be shipped out on his next assignment and he wasn’t leaving without making her his wife.
For the next fifty-three years they would be hopelessly in love with each other. They would see the world as he rose in the ranks of the United States Navy – Guam, California, Washington, D.C., Ireland, Germany and three different tours in Hawaii. Together they would raise a family of three girls.
As the Naval office in charge of testing the very first fax transmissions as part of the Navy’s developing satellite communication systems, he would choose a photo of his beautiful bride to be broadcast from a base in Hawaii, bounced off the surface of the moon and on to a NASA representative waiting to receive it in Washington, DC. Officers on the other end of the transmission wanted to know the identity of the beauty in the photo. It was the wife of their boss; a certain farm boy from South Dakota turned Naval officer who just happened to be in charge of the latest communications technology for the United States military.
His gal was the first woman on the moon.
The two of them would eventually reside here in San Antonio in their retirement. That’s where they would start attending a new church that has just started holding services near where they lived. A place called Cibolo Creek Community Church, with rock music, a preacher in an open collar shirt and very little of anything that looked like the more traditional church they might have insisted on at their age. They loved the place and its people and the place and its people loved them right back.
About five years ago, this beautiful woman began to change. Sadly, it was diagnosed as the onset of Alzheimers disease. Over the next few years, this lovely, classy, dynamo of a woman with the quick sense of humor, an uncanny memory and impeccable attention to detail would gradually disappear before our very eyes. Toward the end, it seemed the devastating changes happened between one Sunday and the next.
As she slid further and further away from her family and friends, her adoring husband’s heart ached with an even deeper grief. He was losing the love of his life right before his very eyes.
As an inspiration to every man in our church, he embodied the essence of their wedding vows, “To have and to hold, for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, until death us do part.” This strong and steady Naval officer loved his wife with the compassion and care of the most tender nurse on the planet. He did everything in his power to keep her mind engaged, her body strong and her appearance maintained to the same stylish impeccability she had insisted for herself throughout her life.
I visited her in her home as she lay in a Hospice bed just a few hours before her passing. She was still striking in her beauty. The twinkling gleam in her jet black eyes would not be extinguished even as death cast its cold shadow across her bed.
And then we lost her.
I don’t believe anybody could have felt that loss nearly as deep as her husband. He adored her. He was hopelessly in love with his wife.
After fifty-three years and a lifetime together, she was gone. On the day of her funeral, he lay across her casket and sobbed uncontrollably at the realization his beautiful bride would not be there when he got home that afternoon.
Exactly thirteen days after her funeral would be the first Valentine’s Day in fifty-three years that he would not have her to bless with flowers and chocolate. He would be alone.
Just like you’d expect, that’s when Jesus showed up.
In his release from the evening routines of caring for his wife for the first time in nearly six years, he committed to get involved in the Monday evening Men’s Group at Cibolo Creek Community Church. While he had wanted to attend the Bible study for quite some time, serving his wife was his higher priority.
We buried her on a Tuesday. The following Monday evening he was seated among the other fellows there in the church annex. The guys there that evening let him talk and engulfed him with their love and support.
When they realized their next Monday meeting would be Valentine’s Day, the men in that group decided that rather than cancel that night’s study, they would be there for the recent widower. He had only visited one time, his first time. However, rather than spend the evening with their wives in Valentine’s Day celebrations, they chose an even more noble occasion – the opportunity to be the love of Christ to a friend in need.
One man mattered enough for them to make a significant sacrifice.
One man mattered.
Do you see him?
From where I stand, that’s what Jesus looks like.
When people make a decision to forego their own convenience to serve another person in the name of love, we are looking right into the eyes of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. You can almost reach out and touch him.To those guys, I can’t thank you enough for what you did. You were Jesus to my dear friend on a night when only Jesus would suffice.
To the wives of those guys, I can’t thank you enough for what you did. You permitted the Body of Christ to be portrayed in your marriage when you supported your husband’s choice to lead you and your children toward the heart of Jesus Christ.
Ladies, you are highly honored among women. Those men, your husbands, are your Valentines!
I will sleep well tonight with a heart that has been deeply touched by this outrageous portrayal of our Savior. I am ennobled by the presence of these men and to think I call them my friends.
1 John 3:16-24
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them.
1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.