Crosses in the Sand

During the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain was asked by Time magazine to share his “personal journey of faith.” In his article McCain shared a story of something that occurred while he was a POW in Vietnam:

When I was a prisoner of war in Vietnam…my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night. One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me. Then he used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp.

This story reminds me of how powerful practical acts of kindness are in testifying to the prisoners of the global, spiritual war in which all believers are a part. When we love others as we have been loved by Jesus, not in theory, but in tangible, potentially self-sacrificing ways, we will have the opportunity to draw crosses in the sand, so that folks will know that the source of our kindness flows, not merely from ourselves, but from the grace of God expressed to us in the substitutionary life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Source: John McCain, “A Light amid the Darkness,” Time magazine (8-18-08), p. 40

HT: Kevin Miller, Christianity Today International