Man In The Mirror (NKJV)
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Paper: Gloss Text
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 6
- Version: NKJV
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The full text of this tract is shown below in the NKJV version. (Do you want to print this tract in a different version than the one listed? Contact us and let us know what you're looking for—we may be able to create the alternate version for you at no charge.)
Shortly after our 31 year old son John Paul died, we found a deeply moving record of his final thoughts. Written days before his death, his roughly penciled dialogue with God is our son’s most treasured legacy. It is a message we believe God wants us to share.
John Paul was a gifted student, musician, and author. After completing his B.SC. Computer degree in 2002, he was diagnosed with cancer. December of that year was our last Christmas together with our only son.
One of our favourite outdoor activities was mountain hiking. In winter we would build a big bonfire along the way and talk as we warmed up. It was during one of those outings that he confided that he had AIDS. I listened in stunned disbelief to his heart wrenching sobs of despair. We hugged and wept by the fire as I assured him of our steadfast unconditional love. As a result of his compromised immune system, he was unable to defeat the cancer that claimed his life.
In the spring of 2003, John Paul accompanied us to Hawaii. He deadened his pain with liquid morphine as we toured the island whose beauty “blew him away”. At Hanama Bay he sorrowfully cried out that he would “never again see this most beautiful bay in all the world”.
Our Bible reading and prayer times together in the hotel helped to ease the storm of our grief and pain. One evening while reading Philip Yancey’s “Disappointment with God”, John commented, “It’s a good thing salvation is a free gift or I would be out of luck because I’ve broken every promise I ever made to God.”
Soon after we returned home, John Paul died. On his kitchen table we found the following untitled dialogue with God.
I am a broken man, my Lord
I am a broken man.
The Lord? :
What would you like to say, dear son
What would you like to say.
Oh won’t You hold my hand, dear Lord
Won’t you hold my hand.
The Lord? :
But I can’t hold your hand
If before mirrors you stand.
I have heard of locusts
By them I have been touched -
Can I turn back? (Ex. 10:14-18; Joel 2:25)
How can I turn back, my Lord
How can I turn back?
Turn back my son from dying
Deny all your self.
I know you’re not a Job of old
I know affliction well.
Children die a million deaths
I suffer with each one.
But I have died for you, dear son
I have died for every one.
Dialogue by John Paul Guenther, September 21, 1971 – May 6, 2003
Our son’s dialogue with God reveals his struggle with issues relating to human pain and fear. He begins by declaring his hopeless condition. He twice repeats he is a broken man. So broken is he that he fears God may not even hear his pleas, hence he designates “The Lord?” with a question mark.
The Lord opens the door to dialogue with a question and an endearment, “What would you like to say, dear son.” John Paul pleads for God’s comfort; “Won’t you hold my hand, dear Lord,” and the Lord (still with a question mark) throws out a challenge. He cannot comfort one who “stands before mirrors,” who is focused on his outer image. The focus must move from outward, what the world sees, to inward; that which God sees. John moves his focus from the man in the mirror to the inward man; a soul ravaged by the proverbial destroyers, the locusts of Exodus and Joel.
He confesses now, the reason for his brokenness. The locusts, a symbol of sin, have claimed him as their victim and he cries out “Can I turn back?” If so; how?
With that question everything changes. “The Lord!” (now with an exclamation point) replies, “Turn back my son from dying.”
God is not commanding him to stop dying from cancer. He is speaking of sin’s consequence, spiritual eternal death, and offers a two-fold solution: “Turn back” and “Deny all your self.” John turned back by confessing his brokenness, sin, misdirected focus and his need of a Saviour’s embrace. Denying self involves walking in obedience to God’s will as revealed in His written Word, the Bible.
Now God moves to comfort John Paul in his suffering. He doesn’t disparage John’s fear and weakness, “I know you’re not a Job of old.” To the issue John found so troubling, human suffering, God replies,
“I know affliction well
Children die a million deaths
I suffer with each one.”
Then God moves John’s focus from collective humanity to one individual – John Paul. “But I have died for you, dear son.” No matter what unanswered questions may have lingered in John Paul’s mind, this one thing he knew: Christ died for him! Not only for him but for the whole world. “I have died for everyone.”
On June 1, 1980, as a nine year old, John Paul wrote in my Bible, “I became a Christian by repenting and asking Jesus in my life today.” That kind of childlike faith in our merciful God’s forgiveness and love is the key to reconciliation with God. Even though our son rebelled against the God of his youth with tragic consequences, God never abandoned him. John’s dialogue with God is powerful evidence of that fact.
We asked John once what he would do with his life if God healed him of cancer. He replied immediately, “I would be a missionary.” That is one of the reasons we want to share his story with many precious people who need a message of hope and a Saviour to hold their hand in all of life’s journey, including the valley of the shadow of death.
Whatever your situation in life may be, God’s promise to you is “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
You may begin that search today by prayerfully reading the Gospel of John, Psalm 116, and Psalm 25:5. Then you too, like our son, John Paul, will find the Lord Jesus Christ to be all you need: forgiveness, eternal life, comfort, confident assurance, and true peace.