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Following Jesus: the best illustration I’ve ever read

From Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz:

A long time ago I went to a concert with my friend Rebecca. … I heard this folksinger was coming to town, and I thought she might like to see him because she was a singer too. … Between songs, though, he told a story that helped me resolve some things about God. The story was about his friend who is a Navy SEAL. He told it like it was true, so I guess it was true, although it could have been a lie.

The folksinger said his friend was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a building in some dark part of the world. His friend’s team flew in by helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room, the folksinger said, was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. When the SEALs entered the room, they heard the gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. The SEALs asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans.

The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALs, the folksinger’s friend, got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy SEAL whispered that they were American and were there to rescue them. Will you follow us? he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.

I never liked it when the preachers said we had to follow Jesus. Sometimes they would make Him sound angry. But I liked the story the folksinger told. I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust Him, and I like that He healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.

When I understood that the decision to follow Jesus was very much like the decision the hostages had to make to follow their rescuer, I knew then that I needed to decide whether or not I would follow Him. The decision was simple once I asked myself,

  • Is Jesus the Son of God,
  • are we being held captive in a world run by Satan, a world filled with brokenness, and
  • do I believe Jesus can rescue me from this condition?

I like that story about the Navy SEAL, true or not. I like to think of Jesus as my rescuer becoming like me, crouching beside me in my brokenness, putting his arm around my shoulder, and asking me to follow Him.

I like that very much. Thank you for that illustration, Mr. Miller.

  1. michelle
    June 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Wow thats really interesting. I been thinking recently about the stuff i hear about Yeshua/Jeasus left hostages here. I not really believe in Him before I like the stories of Him when i was young at sunday school and in lots of reggae songs but didnt seem like these religions was singing from the same hymn sheet. Me neither i now realise. I think He helped me come off drugs for schitzophrenia and street drugs a year or so ago then lately i been doubting someone who led the life i had could be called by Source/God. lol i start thinking its a government plot with their operation blue beam and stuff. Tho they cud be bluffing a lot of the stuff they got to cause confusion. I think maybe He is more like a shaman than what we think of Him from religions. They are the original healers and psychotherapists after all and i been going tru a lot of this judgement day stuff in my head recently. I still got a lot of inteference get some dark voices in my head too but i remember when i was into Islam it says how Shaytan/Satan is jealous of the believers cos just wants to be back with Source too in a way and i used to really feel for him. though in a way we are Satan the god of this world just projecting, like Carl Jung said we are the evil. People are quick to say God is within well if we in duality then i would thought the dark side is too in a way. Stay blessed….

  2. April 4, 2017 at 7:01 AM

    Thank you for this post. It was a blessing to read this this evening. Peace in Christ, Paul.

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