Thursday, March 25, 2004

Disarmed By Jesus

On Monday, August 9, 1993, a 31-year-old woman, Sopehia Mardress White, burst into the hospital nursery at USA Medical Center in Los Angeles, wielding a .38-caliber handgun. She had come gunning for Elizabeth Staten, a nurse whom she accused of stealing her husband. White fired six shots, hitting Staten in the wrist and stomach.
Staten fled, and White chased her into the emergency room, firing once more. There, with blood on her clothes and a hot pistol in her hand, the attacker was met by another nurse, Joan Black, who did the unthinkable. Black walked calmly to the gun-toting woman-and hugged her – and spoke comforting words to her.
The assailant said she didn't have anything to live for, that Staten had stolen her family.
"You're in pain," Black said. "I'm sorry, but everybody has pain in their life.... I understand, and we can work it out."
As they talked, the hospital invader kept her finger on the trigger. Once she began to lift the gun as though she would shoot herself. Nurse Black just pushed her arm down and continued to hold her. At last Sopehia White gave the gun to the nurse. She was disarmed by a hug, by understanding, by compassion.
Black later told an AP reporter, "I saw a sick person and had to take care of her."
Jesus stood outside the city of Jerusalem and sighing, said, “"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” He has urged us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus sees in us what Nurse Black saw in Mrs. White. We are individuals who need help, wise yet comforting words, and a warm embrace. Paul wrote that the love of Christ compelled him. The embrace of the love of Christ compels us, too. It squeezes the pride out of our hearts, it makes us aware of our need for salvation, it prompts us to die to ourselves in humility, it urges us to follow him. . . it disarms us!
Jesus is calling to you through his word, the New Testament. He knows your heart, even better than you. He knows of your life lived in vain, even if you don’t. He knows of your potential for life abundant and life eternal. He knows and he cares. He cares so much, that he died so that it would be available to you. He cares so much that he died so that you be shocked into caring, too.
The sad truth is that Nurse Black could have been wrong in her assessment of what to do about Sopehia White. White could have seen her coming, heard her words, felt her warmth, and then blown her away. It would have been something like yelling, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” But that kind of reaction to that kind of compassion is not unheard of, is it?
How have you respond to the loving call of Christ? Bring your burdens, beginning with your burden of sin, to him. He can handle it. He has asked for it. He wants you know accept his help, heed his wise yet comforting words, and feel his warm embrace.

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