I saw a fierce man today.
He wasn't chiseled like a Greek god.
He wasn't handsome like a TV preacher.
His name was probably Harold or Norman, not Brad or Collin.
He had a fat gut that hung over his shorts and a really nasty scar on his arm that looked like someone poked a pencil into his pudgy flesh.
He wasn't white but Hispanic I think, something other than normal for Spokane.
He didn't seem highly educated or well versed in all the cultural do's and don'ts that are so important with all the suburbanites that frequent the YMCA. He wasn't wearing a Speedo or any of those other stylish swimwear accessories that make you look so sporty.
He was just average.
At least that is what I thought until I saw him at work.
You see Norman came into the pool pushing a severely handicapped man in a wheel chair. I watched him from the hot tub where I was soaking after my hour plus pursuit after the coveted Greek god chisel.
I watched him strap on water weights to this feeble mans legs and pull him out of his chair and lower him in the water on the handicapped lift. I watched him hold this man up in the water from behind, while he placed a few floaties under his arms to help keep him from sinking in the water. Norman had to hug this man from behind and walk him through the water for exercise. He had to hold him or he would crumble into the water and drown on his own. He had to keep pushing the man's chin up to keep him from going face down in the water. The man was completely unable to do anything much on his own, he was a puppet in Norman's arms and Norman just walked him around in the pool.
I sat there wondering how much Norman was paid to walk this man around in the pool. I wondered how many people would think that this was a waste of hard earned money. I thought about how many people would probably rather just see that invalid in a bed somewhere watching TV and eating applesauce. There was another woman on the side of the pool helping too. She was telling the handicapped man to pick up his feet, hold up his chin and encouraging him to keep walking.
Here was two people spending their time on someone who couldn't say thank you or respond with much more than a cock-eyed look and a guttural moan here and there. You will never know them and are most likely asleep at this hour anyway. But as I watched those two people serve this helpless man who probably will never accomplish anything much in this life in the eyes of the world…I realized something.
Norman was a fierce man.
Real life…real manhood…is servanthood.
The fiercest life is a life of loving sacrifice.
I wept in that hot tub, tears of repentance, tears of admiration and tears of determination to love fiercely again. To hold others in my arms that might never accomplish anything other than what I am able to empower them to do together. I saw a real pastor in that pool. It isn't glamorous, it' doesn't pay the best, it is hard work with little recognition, it's a life of service and sacrifice and some people will drown if we don't walk with them in such a way. God calls some people to simply hold others up, to walk behind them, to encourage them and be their strength.
Little did Norman and his friend know that God was using their simple life to affect the kingdom of God. That they were preaching to a pastor by walking in the pool. Little did Norman know that today he would help a man see his calling in greater clarity and be used by the Holy Spirit to awaken compassion in a wounded heart.
God works in mysterious ways and He truly uses the weak things of this world to confound the strong.