The One Who Stepped Forward
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
- John 15:13
Lately I’ve been thinking about a story I heard recently. The story is about a man who stepped forward and got involved when he didn’t have to. It happened during World War II, while prisoners of war were building a great railroad for their Japanese captors. The prisoners went out early in the morning with their shovels and worked for hours in the hot sun. After working the prisoners handed back in their shovels and waited while the prison guards counted the shovels.
One day, after the shovels were counted, the guards noticed one shovel was missing.
The prisoners were all lined up and ordered to stand in the hot sun until someone admitted stealing the shovel. No one stepped forward. Next the guards shouted and beat the prisoners. Still no one stepped forward. Finally the guards threatened to kill all of the prisoners unless someone admitted to stealing the shovel.
At last one man stepped forward and he was immediately killed.
Later that night the shovels were recounted at the tool shed and the guards realized that no shovel had been missing. They had miscounted. Suddenly it dawned on them; an innocent man stepped forward to save the other prisoners. When I first heard that story, I cried a bit because it reminded me of what Jesus did for me.
Roughly two thousand years ago innocent Jesus stepped forward to save us. He literally entered our world to live the life we were meant to live and then he stepped forward to die the death that we deserve. Three days later he rose from the grave and now Jesus is alive and stepping forward to save us.
As I think about the reality that God is stepping forward to save me, I am both comforted and challenge. I am comforted because I know that God wants to be involved with my story. When he sees me in a hard situation, he doesn’t sit back and leave me to fend for myself. Instead he steps forward and he gets his hands dirty. He literally hung on a cross to save me.
God’s love for me also challenges me to step forward into the lives of other people – to love as I have been loved – to give as I have been given to. At first I thought stepping forward was hard and uncomfortable. I didn’t think it would be all that fun to get involved with other people’s problems. But now I think this is just where God wants me to be. He wants me to place myself in situations where he has to come through for me. He wants me to lay down my life to serve and bless other people. And here is the kicker, the more I step forward and lay down my life, the more I feel like I have actually found my life.
So here’s the question: What have you learned as you’ve stepped forward to bless other people?