Thank God, my ability to love is not a pre-condition for God to love me. Do you see that in fact it’s exactly the opposite? It is only with a huge picture of God’s love for me, that then I am able to begin to love.

I close with one such picture. I learned of this picture in the context of Vietnam. It could apply equally to the Sunni Triangle or Iwo Jima or Antietam or the streets of Wilbraham.

In the midst of a terrible battle, two soldiers who were friends became separated. As the fighting raged on all sides, one of the two soldiers suddenly saw his friend lying on the ground, badly wounded and with no protection from the bullets and the bombs.

The soldier turned to his lieutenant and begged for permission to go to his friend, to try to rescue him, to try to carry him out of the firefight and to safety. The lieutenant forbade him. “I order you not to go. You would stand no chance of coming back alive.”

A moment later, while the lieutenant was turned in another direction, the soldier took off. He ran into the clearing, knelt by his friend, picked him up and began to run. Part way back, a spray of bullets hit him. But stumbling, he made it back to safety with his friend.

The lieutenant came over. He was furious and grief-stricken at the same time. He said to the soldier, “What a waste. Look at your friend. He’s gone. You brought back a dead body. And look at you. Look at your wounds. What a waste.”

The soldier looked up at the lieutenant. He smiled a sweet, sweet smile. And he said,

Lieutenant, it wasn’t a waste. When I got out there, my friend was alive. He looked up at me. And he said to me, “I knew you’d come.”

There is no place in this world, and no moment in this life, in which we may not say to Jesus, “I knew you’d come.”