My friend Joe served in the Merchant Marines during the time of the Vietnam War. Joe loved God and sold Bibles while off duty in the high seas. Joe didn’t know it at the time, but his younger brother, David Admiral, would need a Bible for consolation in his time of distress, when he was stricken with a serious disease.
David was named after the biblical king. His mother also pegged him “Admiral,” because she loved the military and everything it stood for. David was a dutiful young man and loved his job, ensuring children walked to and from school safely. He was awarded the highest honor, a trip to the nation’s capital, in the School Safety Patrol Program. He proudly wore his fluorescent cap and safety patrol belt across his shoulder throughout the entire trip.
David longed to take time away, to enter into silence with God, to pray, listen, reflect. He thought he wanted to be a priest. When he transferred to St. Vincent’s School, from the 7th to 9th grade, he organized yearly retreats for young adults. The retreats were popular. Many were helped to reconnect and grow closer to God’s will in their young lives.
Joe received a call one night while on navigational watch. David Admiral was seriously ill and in the hospital. Joe’s brother had been found unconscious and unresponsive, slumped over the wheel in his golf cart. Hospital tests revealed the unexpected. He was born with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue and jeopardized David’s ability to grow and develop properly. Although some with the disease develop symptoms at birth or as young children, David’s disease did not manifest itself until he was fifteen.
Joe brought one of his Bibles to the hospital for David. It touched Joe to see the way David held it and hugged it. David was holding on to the nearness of God in his time of need. He told Joe that he would sleep with the Bible. “I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10
The next hospital visit would be Joe’s last time to see David. It was memorable, because David told him that Jesus had come to visit him the previous night. David recounted that Jesus had told him that love is all that matters. He saw and heard Jesus say, “L” is for love, “O” is for obedience, “V” is for virtue, and “E” is for endurance.
David explained that Jesus had showed him how the cross symbolizes love. Jesus said that the vertical bar points toward heaven, because it represents the love we are to have for God. We are to love God with our whole body, heart, mind and soul. Jesus also said that the horizontal bar of the cross represents the love we are to have for one another; we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
David’s disease resulted in aortic enlargement; it expanded the main blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. The enlargement caused a rupture which killed David instantly.
After David’s funeral, he appeared to Joe in a dream. David asked Joe to tell his story of Jesus’ divinely inspired communication with him. With this column, Joe has finally had an opportunity to share Jesus’ message of love to David Admiral.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’” John 20:21; “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
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