Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
TITLE: A Reason to Stand
By Jamie Boettcher
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“Stand Up!” My mom whispered at me with even greater urgency.
I reluctantly got to my feet, all the while keeping my head down and my arms across my body. I was sending a clear message that I disagreed with this. What’s the big deal anyway? Why did we have to stand up every time someone read from the Bible? My Sunday school teacher always told me that Jesus loved me just as I am – so can’t he love me while I’m sitting down? My Nana, now there was someone who loved me. She whisked into the house, smelling of peppermint and handing out butterscotches even without me standing up when she came in. Now if Jesus had handed out candy, I might have been inclined to stand up without any promptings at all.
Ten years later I found myself on active military duty in a hot, dry, secretive place that had little to remind me of home. The friendships I developed on my squad were my lifelines, and our morning prayer time strengthened each one of us. Here with these soldiers, I felt close to God, but was thankful that the Army Chaplain didn’t make us stand up every time scripture was read. I had enough of standing up – some days we had to stand for twelve hours straight, so I grabbed at the opportunity to read God’s word while reclined against a pile of sandbags.
My bunkmate Daniel was on fire for Jesus. I found his passion inspiring, but not quite contagious. One night as we lay in our bunks, Daniel asked me “Have you ever pictured what it will be like to meet Jesus face to face?” As he finished his question, a big toothy smile came over his face, and a dreamy look shadowed his eyes.
“Honestly, I can’t say that I have.” I said candidly. Daniel broke out of his dream state and responded, “Well, give it a try sometime!”
Just weeks later, our group was ambushed, and Daniel was seriously injured. As I rode with him in the medevac, my heart clenched as I watched him fade quickly. He slowly turned his head towards me and whispered “I’ll be waiting for you with Jesus”. At that moment, the pain stricken face smoothed over, and a toothy grin appeared. The memory of Daniel’s dreamy look of meeting Jesus came back to my mind, and I realized at that moment that his dream was coming true. I wiped a tear off my cheek and whispered back “Thank you.”
As I sat in full uniform in a packed room, I reflected on my friendship with Daniel and the gratitude I felt towards him. He gave his life for me, for his family, and for his country. When the procession entered the room, I instinctively rose to my feet. As I did so, I flashed back to being ten again, and Mom whispering “Stand Up!” in the middle of worship. The memory confused me for just a moment and then it struck me. I was currently standing up for someone I respected, someone who had died for me and someone I wanted to honor. Didn’t I feel that way about Jesus too? Hadn’t he died for me too? A wave of shame rolled over me, as I acknowledged my previous behavior. Immediately I felt a response of forgiveness, and a smile spread across my face. I could now vividly imagine meeting Jesus face to face, and I felt a peace in my soul I had not known before.
Twenty years later, I stood honoring God in a church of my own. I looked down at my ten year old son, and saw a face that no doubt my mother had stared at thirty years earlier. A reading from the Gospel was next on the bulletin. I calmly whispered to my son, “Stand up” and pulled gently at his elbow. He gave in to the prompting, but kept his eyes looking down. In contrast, my eyes looked upwards, to the Cross, as I silently prayed. My deepest desire was that someday my own children would willingly and whole-heartedly stand up for Jesus. He deserved it.
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