Refining Life, on Purpose

Jesus Sightings Show a Watching World He is Present Here

Be on the lookout for Jesus sightings as you go about your day and life. You might just be surprised by when and how he appears.

“Be on the lookout for Jesus sightings.” That was the peculiar charge delivered to a group of mostly junior high kids embarking on international mission work. I was among them as a college-aged youth leader, though I felt quite inadequate for the role. I was certain I would try, but would see no genuine Jesus sightings during this week-long venture.

Though I genuinely hoped I would be wrong. I’m glad I was.

The Visibly Divine Appointments of Jesus Sightings

I had the good fortune of participating in two international mission trips. Although the events of both blend together, but the concept of Jesus sightings was a cornerstone topic of conversation.

One such memory I often share is that of a little boy named Hector. The boy had a charismatic smile and his upbeat enthusiasm brought a unique air of joviality to the whole crew as we built the small home he and his family would live in.

Hector called me “Charly Chad” because he didn’t naturally know the name “Chad.” He equated my name to the more familiar “Charly,” so he would always not so quietly say Charly before Chad. During one of those super hot days as we all worked on the structure, Hector went from person to person asking for a hammer. He would collect bent nails as he went about his business.

Not wanting to see Hector hurt himself trying to drive bent nails, he found nobody willing to give him their hammer. This went an all morning until we finally broke for lunch. Though we were supposed to take our tools with us, someone had left their hammer behind.

When we returned from lunch, in the middle of the wooden foundation we had built that morning lay the hammer – and a pile of nails. Upon further inspection, we discovered the nails were the bent nails Hector had picked up earlier that morning. He had taken the lunch hour to straighten them.

And, of course, we drove as many of them into his future home.

Recognizing Jesus Sightings

It would be easy to dismiss Hector’s action as nice, but hardly that of a Jesus sighting. I mean, they’re nails, right? Okay, well let’s unpack that a bit more.

First off, the nails were bent

Consider the work of God:
   who can make straight what he has made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13 (ESV)

God is wise and just and powerful. Much more than you or I could ever know. All things happen because God allows them to happen. No person can change any of that. To attempt to do so is fruitless. This implies that there is a hand of God in all men’s actions, either effecting them, if they be good, or permitting them, if they be bad, and ordering and overruling them, whether they be good or bad.

Next, they were nails that had been bent and cast off as defective

Like the nails, we too are defective. In other words, we’re broken. A fallen people. No matter what we do, and no matter how hard of frequent we try, we cannot fix our brokenness. There is only once source for our brokenness: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Third, they were nails

A carpenter by trade, the nails represent Jesus in a figurative sense. Also, albeit much smaller, the nails are representative of the spikes that pierced the body of Christ when he was crucified for our aforementioned sins and brokenness.

Be on the lookout for Jesus sightings as you go about your day and life. You might just be surprised by when and how he appears.

Be on the lookout for Jesus sightings as you go about your day and life. You might just be surprised by when and how he appears.

Responding to Jesus Sightings

Of course there were many other examples of Jesus sightings through the course of the collective two weeks we worked. This one clearly stands out as one of the most impacting. Here I am about twenty years later, still reflecting upon the experience.

We saw the act for what it represented and used those nails – those straightened by the act of a boy who God connected to us. We, in turn, used them and thus allowed Hector to take a small part in building his family’s home.

To this day, a bent nail carries a lot of symbolism for me. The first act I take is to remember the blessings with which God has provided and offer him my prayerful thanks. I also remain mindful that the bent nail can – in a sense – be a small Jesus sighting in my daily life.

What about you? Have you experienced lasting Jesus sightings in your life? Would love for you to share either in the comments or dropping me a line.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.