The Artist


It was a special day for me and my boys. As soon as church was over, I would be showered with gifts, gifts they had saved their money for months to buy, in honor of Fathers Day.

As we sat in God's house, I couldn't help but notice the man in the seat directly in front of me. His hair was disheveled, and he had a couple of plastic shopping bags with him that he held onto as if they were prize possessions. I couldn't help but wonder if he might be homeless, and I determined to talk with him after the service.

Following praise and worship, the dads were invited to come forward to receive a Father's Day gift from the church. Children lined the front, handing out musical CDs and wishing every dad a "Happy Fathers Day", and as I approached the platform, a girl I had never seen before suddenly rushed forward to personally hand me the CD in her hand. "This is especially for you," she told me.

I was taken aback to have been singled out like this, especially by someone I had never seen before, and I realized that God must have a special message for me that day.

As I returned to my seat, my eyes were again drawn to the man sitting in front of me. My heart was suddenly filled with brotherly love for him and I started to pray for him. A few moments later, he turned around and introduced himself. He said that he was an artist, and he handed me something he had sketched on the back of a flyer that had been on his seat. Apparently he had drawn it while waiting for the service to begin. "This is for you," he stated simply.

"But, but…" I replied, searching for a way to refuse his beautiful gift. After all, he obviously had nothing, and I had so much! I should be the one giving gifts to him! But in the end, I accepted it. "Thank you so much," I said, rather lamely. "That's really nice!"

He smiled, and as the pastor began the sermon, he turned back forward.

I didn't hear much of the beginning of the sermon. I was too busy contemplating what had just happened! As I did so, the following Bible text came to my mind: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35 NIV) That was a sermon in itself!

Towards the end of the service, anyone requesting special prayer was encouraged to raise his or her hand. When the artist in front of me raised his hand, I placed my hand on his shoulder and listened as he shared some of his burdens with me. God's compassion for him overcame me, and as I started to pray for him, God's Spirit took over my words. After the prayer, I looked into this man's eyes and noticed that he had been crying. He gently said "Thank you", then he turned to face the speaker once again. When a salvation call was given, my newfound friend gave his heart to the Lord.

I will always remember this exceptional Fathers Day. Not because of the CD I received, and not even because of the beautiful sketch that now adorns my desk. The greatest gift of all was when this artist accepted Jesus into his heart. I felt blessed beyond means, and I thanked God for the tiny role He had allowed me to play.

It would have been so easy for me to judge this man, for we, as humans, so regularly see ourselves as better than anyone else. This was even a problem in Jesus' day: "The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." (Luke 18:11-12 NIV)

In reality this kind of attitude shows that we have not grasped God's love: "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:17-19 NIV)

God loves everyone impartially. Jesus did not come to this earth to save a special elite group. He came to save "the world", which includes "you and me" and anyone else living on this planet. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

Only when Jesus lives in our hearts can we really love the way Jesus does: "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:12 NIV)

God loves you, my friend, no matter what background you come from. You may have hurt people through your words and deeds, but God still loves you! You may feel you are despicable, like no one could ever love you. "If you just knew what I have done…" you may even say. But God knows, and He still loves you. He died just for you, so that if you believe in Him you "shall not perish but have eternal life."

Aren't you tired of your life being filled with "me, me and me"? Aren't you tired of living with constant failures and selfish ambitions? Jesus can make a difference in your life. He loves you and wants to be your friend. Will you let Him? "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20 NIV)

The next few weeks after Fathers Day, I looked for my newfound friend at church, but I never saw him again. I hope that one day I will meet him once more, so that I can thank him for that special Father's Day.

If YOU are the one who so touched my life that day, please contact me if you can!

Rob Chaffart

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