Some of you may have seen the recent Obama/McCain Forum that took place at the mega church known as Saddleback in California. The pastor of that church, Rick Warren, moderated the event. For those that watched, you may recall an amazing story that John McCain shared about one particular Christmas while held captive in Vietnam as a prisoner of war in the 1960s.
Mr. McCain shared how prior to one holiday, a guard had entered his chamber, loosened his ropes, put a finger to his lips, then left. Before the guard’s shift was over, he returned, re-tightened the ropes, and departed. Sometime later, it was Christmas day. During roll call, this same guard approached prisoner McCain, took his foot out of his sandal and in the sand formed the shape of a cross with his toe. Calmly, he then erased it. “Just two men. Worshipping. On Christmas day.” I think is how the now Senator put it.
For those of you familiar with the Christian faith, you are aware that the shape of a fish was used similarly by first century Christians. They were known to draw symbolically in the sand to communicate their faith while under vicious Roman rule. A believer would draw a semi-circle. If the receiver of the art was a believer as well, he would respond in kind, and complete the form. The finished product was that of a stick figure, but in the shape of a fish. Early Christians referred to it as the “sign of the fish.” (When you have a moment you might google it for some background info.)
The secret sign that was exchanged between the Vietnamese guard and the American prisoner some 2000 years later was much more blatant and daring. It was the sign of the cross.
As I walked my sweet, Labrador retriever this evening, I kept noticing the beautiful sky and continued to marvel at the perfect weather. Nearing the end of our walk, I looked up, as I had been doing, but this time noticed up in the blue the perfect shape of a huge stick figure fish. Obviously made by airplanes as other white paths in the distance were visible. This blatant image, however, was too clear to miss.
I was struck. Now please know that I am not one to make a scene over such moments, but it was definitely special. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Lord was perhaps smiling down with a simple, “I see you. And I am here.” I don’t know. But it was my moment, and I will keep it in my heart. Maybe not as dramatically as that of Mr. McCain’s, but one that was meant for me to be sure.