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Shiny Boots
by Jim McGuiggan
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. —Philippians 2:15

    While ordinary is beautiful, great people and great deeds color life, add depth and strength to it, cleanse it as a flesh sea breeze clears the air, and help us breathe free. They strive to protect people from criticism that’s too hot and hard for them to bear, and they try to make it easier (if not easy) for wanderers to believe — not only in the goodness in others but in the possibility of goodness in themselves. By the grace of God, these compassionate souls reflect the life of Christ before the widening eyes of those who do not know him.

    That’s really what happened to one man, a former army sergeant, who had spent his whole adult life in the military. He and his buddies had all been “hard men,” but none any harder than a corporal he had served with.

    Astonishingly, the corporal announced he was giving his life to Christ, and as he was baptized, a new man arose. The transformation in his case was immediate and radical: no more booze, no more foul language, no more brawling, no more lascivious stories. A deeper reality now permeated his life.

A deeper reality now permeated his life.
    At first the group of soldiers was amused, then skeptical, expecting a return to normal. Then, for a while, they were awed. But eventually, the hard men began to provoke the corporal. The insults mounted — jeers, bawdy songs, drunken truculence, and threats of violence. Vile jokes were deliberately told in his presence and for his benefit. Once in a while, he looked as though he might lose it and respond in kind — but he didn’t. The sergeant was especially irritated — he just “knew” it wouldn’t last.

    One day the men returned from a long, tiring day’s march, mud covered and bone weary. The sergeant pulled off his boots and collapsed on his cot. Attracted by the silence across the tent, he glanced over and saw the corporal down on his knees by his cot, praying. The sergeant was furious! He grabbed a muddy boot and flung it at the man, hitting him on the shoulder. The corporal continued to pray. Now the sergeant was incensed. He sat up on the cot, grabbed the other boot, and flung it hard at the praying man’s head. It struck home, and the corporal grunted and rubbed his head — rubbed and rubbed ... and prayed and prayed.

    Later the sergeant wakened to find the corporal gone and his own filthy boots shined and polished, sitting by his cot. That, said the sergeant, was the last straw. That kind of heroism for Christ’s sake turned him to God.

Adapted from Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul by Jim McGuiggan (1998, Howard Publishing Company).

HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Adapted from “Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul” by Jim McGuiggan (1998, Howard Publishing Company). Used by permission.