"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 16, 2009
A few weeks ago, Jon and I visited a church and heard Dave Roever speak. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, I highly recommend doing so. His story is pretty incredible.
At the height of the Vietnam war, Dave received his draft notice. Having no desire to serve in the infantry, he joined the Navy and served as a river boat gunner. Eight months into his tour of duty in Vietnam, Dave was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorus grenade he was poised to throw exploded in his hand. Not only was he burned beyond recognition, but over half of his face was blown off. The ordeal left him hospitalized for fourteen months, where he underwent numerous surgeries.
While hospitalized, Dave asked to see a mirror -- and surprisingly, was given one. He was horrified at what he saw. He thought there was no way that his young wife could still love him and felt that his life was over and he had no reason to live. He decided that he wanted to die, and pulled the tube out of him. Then he waited... and waited... then started getting hungry! Dave had pulled the wrong tube. Instead of the life support, he had pulled his feeding tube. Even then, God had His hand upon Dave and had spared his life for a reason.
When his wife walked into his hospital room and saw him for the first time, she walked over to the bed and leaned over and kissed him and told him that she loved him. He couldn't believe it! He had heard other soldiers wives come in, and upon seeing their husband missing a limb or disfigured, they would say they couldn't live like that and turn around and walk away. His injuries were far worse than anyone else in the hospital with him, so how could his wife want to stay married to him? But she did, and they have now been married for 40-plus years.
Dave's accident with the grenade happened in 1969, forty years ago now.
When Jon and I heard him speak, Dave didn't go into the history of his accident as much as what he dealt with for many years afterwards. For twenty years he dealt with thoughts of suicide every single day. He carried a gun in his boot because he swore that he would never let himself be burned again, and would shoot himself before that could ever happen.
Dave said the turning point came one time when he was speaking on a Christian television program, and was being interviewed. He was exhausted from traveling and hadn't really wanted to do the show, but felt obligated because it was a special Memorial Day program and one of his personal heroes was also being interviewed. When the program began, out of his exhaustion he found himself rambling and opening his heart and sharing about the suicidal thoughts he'd had for years and all the other internal torment he had experienced. After he wound down, the lady who was hosting the program looked at him and said, "You know why God allowed this to happen to you, don't you?" He was thinking, "No, I don't! Why don't you tell me!!" She said, "It was because He knew that He could trust you with these scars." That one sentence was a complete 180 turning point for him. Emotional healing came into his life that day and he has not had a suicidal thought since, nor does he carry the gun in fear of being burned again.
You look at him and see all the scars and disfigurement of his face and hand. The first time you see him, it's pretty shocking. But once he begins talking, something happens. Yes, you still see all the scars and ugliness of his outward appearance; but then you begin seeing his heart. He has a great sense of humor and has the ability to laugh at himself and make people laugh with him, not at him. You hear the message of what he's saying. You hear the passion in his heart for reaching out and helping other hurting people. You begin looking beyond the messenger and hearing the message.
Today Dave Roever has a ministry that none of us would be able to have. He has doors opened that would be closed to us. He has people listen to him that would never pay any attention to us. He is called upon regularly to address troops on domestic military bases as well as other locations around the world. He is the only minister the government will allow to go preach to the troops in Iraq. He has a recovery center where wounded soldiers can go for free and receive marital and emotional recovery after devastating injuries.
I look at him and think, "If that were me, I'd want to just sit at home all by myself and never go out in public. I wouldn't want people to stare at me and point and whisper about my disfigurement." But Dave has allowed God to open doors for him to go and minister to others who are broken, battered, and injured. They know that he can empathize and has been where they are. As the lady told him years ago, "God knew that He would trust Dave with the scars."
I was reading in Isaiah 53 a while back and verse 2 caught my attention. Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus coming to earth. He wrote these words about Jesus, "He has no form not comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
According to this scripture, there was nothing in His physical appearance to draw individuals to Jesus. He wasn't a tall, handsome, muscular Man that would draw people's attention and cause them to flock after Him. But Isaiah writes that there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
In fact if you really think about it, Jesus walked everywhere He went. I'm sure that He got sweaty and dirty. He may not always have smelled the best and His clothes may have looked tattered and dusty. He probably didn't always have a way to wash His clothes or take a bath every day. Add that to the equation of being unattractive in physical appearance, and that doesn't seem like someone who would draw a large following of people.
Yet as He went from town to town preaching and teaching, multitudes of people were drawn to Him. Some came because they believed that He truly was the Messiah and wanted to hear His message, while others came out of curiosity. Then there were those who completely opposed Him and followed Him trying to find fault so they could destroy Him.
The bottom line is, they didn't follow Him or go hear Jesus teach because of His outward physical appearance. But it was His message and heart of compassion that drew them to Jesus.
As individuals living in a society where prestige and looks seem to be so important, it's easy to get caught up in that hype. Not only for ourselves, but also how we perceive others. But I'm convinced that it's the heart of a person that really matters and is the most important. It's not the packaging that matters, but what's inside the package.
Matthew 12:34 says, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
If our heart is filled with good things, then we'll speak good. But if our heart is filled with evil, then evil words will come forth. It doesn't matter how physically attractive or how plain or how disfigured a person may be; it's what's in their heart.
As we draw close to Christmas let us each consider the message of love, hope and forgiveness that Jesus brought to earth. God sent His only Son down to mankind to bring redemption and eternal life. And that gift is available to everyone; regardless of age, race, background, beauty, etc. May we all take the time to listen to the message that Jesus brought to earth and accept His gift of salvation.
Matthew 5:45 quotes Jesus saying, "...for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Most translations are almost identical. The New Living Translation puts it, "and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." That's the way I remember hearing it. "Alike" makes a big difference. It isn't that Jesus said The Father would send rain on the just but double on the unjust. Good and bad things will happen to us all "alike".
Much like a farmer might, Dave took his rain (the grenade), some sun (his wife's love), and a lot of time, and grew something great.
Andies Candies Cookies
3/4 cup butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. Water
1 1/4 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
In saucepan over low heat melt butter; add brown sugar and water. Add chocolate chips. Stir until partially melted. Remove from heat; stir; cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs and dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until blended. Chill for 1 hour. Make into small balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 10-13 minutes. While still hot, put Andies Candies (can be found by the chocolate chips at Christmas time) on each cookie. Let it get soft, then swirl mint with a spoon. Cool.
** Instead of the Andies Candies, I personally like to buy the Hershey's Kisses with Cordial Cherry Filling. Put one on top of each cookie; either leave it whole or when it starts melting, swirl it on top of the cookie with a spoon. I think this is even better than the mint, although they are both really good.
When my nephew, Jared, was in first grade he wasn't too excited about school. One day his mom told him that they needed to study his spelling words because he had a test coming up. His reply was, "I decided I don't want to do spelling anymore. It's just not my thing!" Her answer was, "Sorry Charlie! It really doesn't matter if spelling is your thing or not; you're going to have to do it."
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city. (Proverbs 18:19)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
Remember the kids' song, "Oh be careful little tongue what you say...."
May we all take that to heart and watch the words that we speak that they don't bring offense!
As you begin making preparations for Christmas, don't become so overwhelmed that you lose sight of Who we're celebrating.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon