As 2016 is coming to a close and the promise of 2017 is on the horizon, I am reminded of how I want to start off the new year, with boldness for God. It is my hope that this devotion and story of my therapy patient will inspire you to do so as well!
“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
Hebrews 13:6 ESV
Mr. Trellis*, a special Physical Therapy patient of mine, has never been shy about sharing his stories and thoughts on war. In his 91 years, he has had plenty of opportunities and experiences to help make up his mind that he is not a fan of combat. But one story he shared with me, has been engraved upon my heart for me to share with others.
Mr. Trellis was a merchant seaman, governed by the coast guard in the 1940’s. He traveled many places by ship, carrying cargo to various locations in Europe. During his long days on the boat, he developed relationships with many colorful characters but none as memorable as the two thousand men on board as prisoners of war, sailing from France to Newport News, Virginia.
Mr. Trellis describes the conditions the prisoners were positioned in as dark and lonely. They were not allowed to lay down in beds but had to stand for most of the day. The men had to reside in the very bottom part of the ship, not allowed to see daylight or breathe fresh air for days. They were given food of course, which was part of Mr. Trellis’ job, among other various duties on the ship. But perhaps the most important job he had was to share the Gospel with these captive men.
My patient knew that there was a stash of New Testament Bibles in an abandoned room. He took it upon himself, to carry those boxes of Bibles down the narrow passageways to the very bottom of the ship. There, he, himself, distributed the Good News to the two thousand men, as there were just enough Bibles for every man to have one!
Can you imagine what bravery and obedience to God it took to carry out that witness of faith? Mr. Trellis knew he could get in trouble if he was discovered showing compassion to the prisoners. But he had no regard to what might be done to him. His only mission, following God’s prompting, was to share the love of Jesus with those men.
And that very night, the imprisoned crowd lifted up their voices to Heaven, singing hymns of praise and worship to God. Mr. Trellis describes the beautiful sound as something he will never forget. Even after all these years, their voices still linger in his dreams. And even though Mr. Trellis has not had any contact with those men since they were dropped off at Newport News, one can only imagine how many lives were touched and eternally saved, all because of the brave actions of one man.
Oh how I long to be bold and brave in my faith like Mr. Trellis. I am ashamed of myself at the times I have cowered away from sharing what God has laid on my heart with others. I am now inspired to think of Mr. Trellis and the courage he showed that day in the ocean.
I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Trellis reflected on the Hebrews verse saying, “…’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Surely he must have drawn his boldness from the comfort that the Lord was with him, leading him every step of the way to his destination at the bottom of the ship.
As believers, we, too, can find confidence in knowing God gave the Holy Spirit to us to guide and direct us on His missions of faith. There is no greater way to show love to others than by sharing love itself, Jesus Christ and His story. If we are following God’s will and promptings, we have nothing to fear.
How is God calling you to step out in boldness for His sake? Is there someone you know who needs to hear the Good News? Be brave not fearful, and remember Mr. Trellis. Let his story and the Holy Spirit ease your anxiety in making an eternal impact for the Kingdom of God.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of me, guiding me in every step of my life. Help me to listen carefully to You and to draw confidence in sharing Your Word through Your continual presence within me. Help me live out the words ‘Whom shall I fear?’ because of my faith in You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
*name changed for privacy issues with healthcare
Hope you have a wonderful day and many wonderful times to come as you reflect on the year behind you and what God has in store for you in the year to come!