What a Man Will Do When He Becomes a Miracle

February 27, 2012 | 48 comments

It takes a lot to pry a farmer from a barn full of pigs for a whole day. And let’s face it: It takes an honest-to-goodness miracle for a farmer to leave the barn for a whole three days.

But he does leave. Maybe it’s because the farmer is the miracle.

Yes, I suspect that is why he went away.

I do know that he left his denim Carhartts on the closet floor. And before he drove away, he had to search hard to find his suit, excavated from the back of the closet. He summoned me to the bedroom, and then he held up a tie to the shirt.

“Is this the one that matches?” he asked.

“Mm-hmmmm,” I winked. “You’re gonna look hot.”

I think he blushed. I do know that he rolled his eyes.

And then he planted a kiss on my cheek, hugged the girls, and drove away in his pickup truck. Someone else would take care of a few hundred pigs for the next three days.

That’s what a remade-man will do when he meets Jesus.

“Come,” the Savior beckons, “Follow me.”

And a disciple will drop his net — or in this case, his pigs — and leave.

He put the suit on late Saturday afternoon, and he said I could sneak in the back and listen as he spoke to a room full of men about Jesus.

I waited with him outside the room until he was called to the podium. And I told him how handsome he looked, wearing his tie, and his shiny shoes, and all of that startlingly beautiful Jesus-light.

He told me he wasn’t nervous. But he fidgeted with that single gold band around his left finger. And when he did that, I remembered the night I said “yes” to his proposal under the campanile at the university. He had hired a violinist to serenade us.

I remembered the way we thrashed about for years in search of life’s meaning.

hand of farmer

He would tell part of our story to the men in the conference-room seats: “My wife seemed to be living at the same frantic pace that I was, so we got along great.”

For us, life was more about being sensations than being servants.

Let me tell you the bold-faced truth: Our spiritual life was a mess. We rarely darkened the doorway of a church. We found faux-contentment in success and money. We sought a status, not a Savior.

And we fought. Boy, did we fight. We slammed doors. In anger, I threatened the D-word a time or two.  We said ugly words too often, and forgiving words too little.

Back then, I didn’t know if I even believed in Jesus. My husband, he did believe. But he didn’t follow. He said these words into the microphone Saturday afternoon:  “I certainly couldn’t understand why anybody would need Jesus. If the enemy can convince me that everything is about me, why would I seek God?”

I sat in the back row, dabbing tears, reawakened once again to the astonishing ways of Christ.

Yes, it’s true: People can be cured of their hollow, self-focused living. There is no outcast, no sinner, no status-chaser, no doubter, no idol-maker, no person who is out of the reach of God’s grace.

I wanted to stand up and shout Amen when my husband said it: “God wires us so that nothing in this world is going to give us true contentment except Him.”

And my man knows it. We both know it. We lived The Chase. We wanted something more. And nothing would satisfy. I don’t tell you this now as a way to prove that I’ve got the perfect man or the perfect marriage. I don’t have either.

But we do have this: We have a perfect Jesus.  

We are poor beggars at Mercy’s door, stained by our squalid pasts and our manufactured gods. We brought our Savior nothing but our mistakes. And He whispered forgiveness over us. We know He’s still doing it, because we show up at that door daily.

We have become part of the miracle. We were not beyond the reach of hope. We were not outside the scope of grace. Jesus breathed love on us, the unlovely.

So what else can a person do when he’s been rescued by relentless grace? What else can a farmer do but leave his barn full of pigs, and put on the suit jacket?

When you taste amazing grace, you don’t keep that sort of thing secret. You have to tell.

He was at the podium, when I saw the gold glint of our wedding band on his finger. It was in that moment when he pressed his fist into his palm to drive home a point. I could hear a stirring passion, a hope dripping:

“We all have a past, we have all screwed up, and we all have regrets,” he said. “But we have time left.  We.have.time.left. … None of us knows how much time we have left in these mortal lives, but we can make that time count.”

And, by the looks of the parking lot, a bunch of other farmers left their cattle-yards and pig-barns because they, too, were interested in making time count. They were incapable of staying home, on account of a God who declares us unreservedly loved.



Below, you’ll find the song that my husband shared with the retreat-goers: (Subscribers, you may need to click here see the song video.)

Linking with Michelle and Jennifer today…

by | February 27, 2012 | 48 comments


  1. Gramma T


    • dukeslee

      Gramma T — Check out the shoes and legs of the man by Scott. Is that your man? He was hanging out with us a little while before Scott went in.

  2. Dave

    Jennifer, I don’t think I can ever hear too many stories that testify to our perfect Jesus.

    Thanks for your vulnerability (and Scott’s, too) as you live in the ripple of grace-filled words from the Book that we love like no other: Life is not about us, the sinner, chasing after stuff. It’s about him, our Savior, persistently pursuing us.

    • dukeslee

      Dave, You say it so well, these words about a Savior “persistently pursuing us.”

      Astounding, isn’t it? This Savior who comes chasing after sinners, and won’t let go? I’m amazed at that kind of love.

  3. Chris

    His glory shines all over your lives…this thing we know as GRACE is a beautiful thing!

    • dukeslee

      What a privilege to “do life” with you and your sweet wife. It’s awesome getting to be a part of each other’s “graces.” 🙂

  4. Nancy Kourmoulis

    Jennifer – His mercy given for us all. What an immeasurable more than we can imagine miracle. Rejoicing in the miracle He has made of your lives. Beautiful.

    • dukeslee

      I rejoice, too. And I just bow low with gratitude for a God who takes us as we are, but promises never to leave us that way. Thanks for being here, Nancy.

  5. Megan Willome

    I love the trucks! Except for the snow, that could be any parking lot in Fredericksburg!

    I thought about you this weekend. Had to go to an unfamiliar church service. Wanted you with me.

    • dukeslee

      I just cracked up when I pulled around the corner and saw that long line of trucks. Could be a Ford commercial!

      And about a church service? How I’d love that. Miss you terribly.

  6. Mari Mayborn

    Thank you, Jesus, for calling the farmer and his bride out of the Chase and into the Way.

    God works glorious wonders, doesn’t He. Putting our rough, tough guys into shiny shoes–with “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

    What a gift to walk hand-in-hand with that kind of man.

    • dukeslee

      “out of the Chase and into the Way.” … Thank you, Mari, for articulating it just like that. Right on, friend!


  7. Shelly Miller

    What a beautiful story of redemption. And I have never seen so many trucks parked in a line like that. It looks like a car lot. Glad you got to slip in the back and listen!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Shelly. Yes, those trucks. … I got the giggles when I came around the corner and saw all of them. 🙂

  8. Carey

    Cool post. Cool pictures. Wonderful men we have in our lives. Awesome Savior. Brandy really enjoys listening to your farmer!

    • dukeslee

      Did Brandy get some good “jogging” in this weekend, Carey? 🙂


  9. davis

    i could be jealous…but, i choose to be thankful.

    • dukeslee

      Hi friend. … Grateful here, too. xo

    • dukeslee


      Thanks Patricia!

  10. Linda

    Thank you for sharing with a such an honest heart Jennifer. I believe most of us have a story of rescue from ourselves. His grace and love astound me.
    There is something so wonderful about our men taking a stand for Christ. He is a good man.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Linda! Thank you, my friend.

      Yes, taking a stand. Exactly! …. Scott gave a talk on Christian leadership, and he spoke about taking a stand, and being a leader in small, behind-the-scene ways. He spent a lot of time talking about ways that being a leader actually means being a “follower.” Ah … the upside-down ways of this Kingdom.

  11. Michelle DeRusha

    I am shouting Amen (well, quietly shouting, as I’m in my office right now!) – what a great story! What a brave husband you have!

    {love the line of pick-up trucks, too – that cracked me up}

  12. Sheila Lagrand

    You have ministered mightily to me, with this, today.

    Thank you.

  13. Jenny Bussey

    How lucky we are to be married to men of faith who, along with us, agree that our number one job as a couple is to lead each other to God. Thanks for your reflection, JDL!

  14. Dea

    “You have to tell.” YOU HAVE TO TELL! Leave the pigs and share the miracle, be the miracle so that someone else will see that Jesus is their miracle!

    All my boys drive trucks!!! 🙂

  15. David Rupert

    As a man, i appreciate the way you encouraged your husband. Don’t. Ever. Stop

  16. Joyce

    So beautifully said, Jennifer. This Mom is touched & thankful.

  17. kendal

    i love this story. very much. a man coming to jesus after years of a hollow knowing is a thing. a really big thing. and then they tell and it’s a another big thing. my husband? yes. his story is so similar.

    and i ADORE the line of pick ups:)

  18. r.ellott

    oh I love a good redemption story…thanks for sharing…blessings~

    • dukeslee

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  19. Susan DiMickele

    Jennifer, I came back to read this tonight. Again. I was touched by these words today in so many ways. It is only by grace that I am whole today — whole as a mother, wife, and woman. So many people in my world have given up. The pace is too fast. The road is too hard. Yet your words here show that God is still in the business of changing lives. I’ve forgotten that. And I needed this reminder today.

    I also love how Jesus is the center of your story. It’s not about you. It’s not about your husband. It’s about HIM!

    • dukeslee


      It is a fast-paced, hard-as-granite kind of world. But grace is a chisel. Jesus wins.

      And friend? Your words tonight? About Jesus being the center of the story? That means so much. That was my prayer… That even though the pictures and the storytelling centered on my husband and I, that Christ would be the focus. Thank you for taking the time to say what you said. Really. Thank you….

  20. Diana Trautwein

    Beautiful story, so well told. And thanks for the song, too. A new one to me – and i loved it. Big question for us at this point in our lives – as the time gets shorter, the question looms larger.

  21. Leah Adams

    What a blessing! I, like you and your man, have come so far with Jesus…so far. My marriage has come so far with Jesus. It blessed my heart to see all those pick up trucks lined up so their owners could spend some time with Jesus and with other men. God bless them. Thanks for a beautiful post.

  22. Alison

    Love this. Our men are miracles. These words especially cut right through me:

    “God wires us so that nothing in this world is going to give us true contentment except Him.”

  23. Monica Sharman

    For some men, the dressing up is the miracle. 🙂 (When Charles and I were engaged, two of his coworkers made a bet on whether or not he would wear a tux to his wedding.)

    (He did.)

  24. Alyssa Santos

    I love all the pick-ups in the parking lot picture — not cars, pick-up trucks!

    I love when men “get it” — I always lose it when men get baptized, full grown, grizzly, made-a-lot-of-mistakes-men, go down into the waters and come up new — gets me every time.

    I agree with this: None of us knows how much time we’ve got. If we could only live life with that as our motivator. When we got slammed into a barricade by a drunk driver last summer, my husband and I were trapped, broken, unable to help our kids, who were all crying in the back seats. But, they served each other, prayed aloud, took comfort in a God who’s never trapped. It was a terrible and wonderful feeling all at once that when we are unable to do, God still is. That is the God we serve!

  25. Lyla Lindquist

    Came back to this a couple of times. I don’t think I have anything to say, at least not for which words skitter off to where I can’t find them.

    Just wanted to say I was listening.

  26. Satisfied By Love

    Oh Amen! It reminded me of the movie Faith Like Potatoes my husband and I watched recently. God plops us right down somewhere and helps us to see how he can use us there. A joy to read this today.

  27. Janet Macy

    “People can be cured of their hollow, self-focused living. There is no outcast, no sinner, no status-chaser, no doubter, no idol-maker, no person who is out of the reach of God’s grace.” I love that. So true so true.

    God is not through with us – ever! I am so glad for his yearning for us. Great post.

  28. Christina

    Oh I know that place well. But His grace goes farther than my deepest pit of selfishness. His grace finds its way into the deepest parts of my heart where idols have taken up residence. Beautiful post of His faithfulness, love and mercy. Thanks for sharing this!

  29. Jennifer Ferguson

    This is a glorious story. I could see it play out as you wrote those words. Amazing what He can do it us, who He calls, who He cherishes. From pig farmer to banker, from stay at home mom to lawyer. No matter how we are painted on the outside, we are all made on the inside to love and serve Him.

    I’m guest posting tonight and am planning on linking up with you today!

  30. Doug Spurling

    my oh my, your favorite farmer–pretty soon he just my be your favorite preacher, huh? This was good.

  31. Seth

    I dig this. I dit it a lot.

  32. Lore

    Beautiful. Love this!

  33. Missy

    Thank you for sharing a part of your families testimony. I love hearing other testimonies and what God has done in their lives.
    My husband and I recently realized we were living in The Chase. We thought we were living a good Christian life, but in fact, we were not. We are now in the recovery and giving up The Chase to live for Him.

  34. Darlene Wiggins

    What a beautiful demonstration of God’s love for us. Thank you for sharing your testimony.


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