An “aussie” story
— Author unknown
Years ago a hardworking man took his family from New York State to Australia to take advantage of a work opportunity there. Part of this man’s family was a handsome young son who had aspirations of joining the circus as a trapeze artist or an actor. This young fellow, biding his time until a circus job or even one as a stagehand came along, worked at the local shipyards which bordered on the worse section of town.
Walking home from work one evening this young man was attacked by five thugs who wanted to rob him. Instead of just giving up his money the young fellow resisted. However they bested him easily and proceeded to beat him to a pulp. They mashed his face with their boots, and kicked and beat his body brutally with clubs, leaving him for dead. When the police happened to find him lying in the road they assumed he was dead and called for the Morgue Wagon.
On the way to the morgue a policeman heard him gasp for air, and they immediately took him to the emergency unit at the hospital. When he was placed on a gurney a nurse remarked to her horror, that this young man no longer had a face. Each eye socket was smashed, his skull, legs, and arms fractured, his nose literally hanging from his face, all is teeth were gone, and his jaw was almost completely torn from his skull.
Although his life was spared, he spent over a year in the hospital. When he finally left, his body may have healed but his face was disgusting to look at. He was no longer the handsome youth that everyone admired.
When the young man started to look for work again he was turned down by everyone just on account of the way he looked. One potential employer suggested to him that he join the freak show at the circus as The Man Who Had No Face. And he did this for a while. He was still rejected by everyone and no one wanted to be seen in his company. He had thoughts of suicide.
This went on for five years. One day he passed a church and sought some solace there. Entering the church he encountered a priest who saw him sobbing while kneeling in a pew. The priest took pity on him and took him to the rectory where they talked at length. The priest was impressed with him to such a degree that he said that he would do everything possible for him that could be done to restore his dignity and life, if the young man would promise to be the best Catholic he could be, and trust in God’s mercy to free him from his torturous life. The young man went to Mass and communion every day, and after thanking God for saving his life, asked God to only give him peace of mind and the grace to be the best man he could ever be in His eyes.
The priest, through his personal contacts was able to secure the services of the best plastic surgeon in Australia. There would be no cost to the young man, as the doctor was the priest’s best friend. The doctor too was so impressed by the young man. Whose outlook now on life, even though he had experienced the worst, was filled with good humor and love. The surgery was a miraculous success. All the best dental work was also done for him.
The young man became everything he promised God he would be. He was also blessed with a wonderful, beautiful wife, many children, and success in an industry which would have been the furthest thing from his mind as a career, if not for the goodness of God and the love of the people who cared for him.
Every once in a while when I travel to speak at a conference, the organization puts me up in a five-star hotel. You know the type—lobbies with lavish flower arrangements, a staff that is sensitive to your every need, robes in the bathroom that are so big and fluffy you could safely fall into them from a five-story building, and exotic soaps ready to fill your shower with fragrant aromas.
I’ll admit I’m carnal enough to love staying in those kinds of places. Do I have a witness?
But here’s the flip side. Most of the time when I travel, I feel like I’m on a points program with every budget motel across the States. You walk in carrying your own luggage, wait in vain for someone to greet you as you bang the little bell on the desk next to the vase with the wimpy plastic flower in it. When you finally get to your room (on your own, thank you), you can’t help but notice that the towels look like somebody cut up some used sheets. On the sink there’s a tiny little bar of soap all wrapped up like they don’t want you to use it, and if you take it into the shower it goes down the drain.
So now, let me ask you, where would you rather stay—really?
Just as there’s no comparison between a five-star hotel and the local economy motel, we can’t compare our experience on earth with the wonders that await us in heaven. That’s not to say that there are no wonderful aspects about earth. Without question, God created a beautiful world for us to live in. But let’s face it: we’re a fallen race living in a fallen place, which means that, inevitably, living in this place is going to be a disappointing experience.
Which is exactly how the disciples must have felt when they met with Jesus in the Upper Room. They had been following Him for 3 years and thought He was the one who would make Israel a wonderful place to live. In their mind, they had won the lotto! They expected that He would restore Israel to its former glory and that they would be the big shots in the government. Until, that is, Jesus unraveled their dreams. In John 13:1-38, He told them that one of them would betray Him and that He was leaving them and they couldn’t go with Him. In the other gospels, we read that He also told them of His suffering and warned them of the fact that they would suffer for Him as well. But, knowing that no matter how bad it gets in this place, Jesus knew that He had a better place for them just down the road. So He turned their eyes to the future and said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2). And, as Paul reminds us, it is a place that is “far better” (Phil. 1:23). What an amazing promise!
Of course, those of us who grew up in King James world might be wondering what happened to the “mansions.” If we’re totally honest, that probably has a lot more appeal than “rooms”! And in case you’re thinking about carrying a KJV with you into heaven and asking for an upgrade, don’t worry about it. When you are shown to your room, you can bet it will be like no other place you’ve ever stayed.
So, next time you feel that you’re stuck in a really bad place, don’t forget what’s ahead. As a friend of mine recently said, “If Jesus is your Savior, the future is your friend!”
These words are not an exaggeration. The only reason they may not be true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot or misunderstood the exact truth of them, but that we are too cautious and concerned about our own desires to allow ourselves to become the refuse or “filth of the world.” “Fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ . . .” (Colossians 1:24) is not the result of the holiness of sanctification, but the evidence of consecration-being “separated to the gospel of God . . .” (Romans 1:1).
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you . . .” (1 Peter 4:12). If we do think the things we encounter are strange, it is because we are fearful and cowardly. We pay such close attention to our own interests and desires that we stay out of the mire and say, “I won’t submit; I won’t bow or bend.” And you don’t have to— you can be saved by the “skin of your teeth” if you like. You can refuse to let God count you as one who is “separated to the gospel . . . .” Or you can say, “I don’t care if I am treated like ’the filth of the world’ as long as the gospel is proclaimed.” A true servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to experience martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a moral person is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty, or dishonesty, he is so repulsed by the offense that he turns away and in despair closes his heart to the offender. But the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and the vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but “to reveal His Son in me. . .” (Galatians 1:16).