The Tale of Dirk (Not Nowitzki)
Over the last 20 years, I keep coming back to the story of a man named Dirk who lived 550 years ago in the Netherlands.
It was a time of bloody religious tension between Christians in Europe. Dirk, a member of one group of Christians, had been arrested by another group of Christians. His jail was a mansion turned into a low-security prison. It was surrounded by a moat.
It was winter, and the moat was frozen. Dirk made a rope of rags, and he escaped out a window and onto the moat. Since he’d lost weight in prison, the ice held him, and Dirk started to flee.
But the guards saw him. One of them started after Dirk across the moat, but it cracked. The guard fell into the icy water and started to freeze and drown. Dirk was free.
But Dirk saw the guard. He went back and saved the man. Dirk was re-arrested and never got loose again.
I think I might’ve kept running.
This story frustrates me. It’s stupid on so many levels. Dirk shouldn’t have been in prison. The guard should’ve died. Dirk deserved to run and to live.
But the story also haunts me in a holy way.
Deep down, Dirk’s heart was so shaped by the compassion of Jesus that he was compelled by Love to love his guard. Dirk’s story is weird like Jesus is weird. You know, the Jesus who in Luke’s gospel calls out from the cross for God to forgive his crucifiers.
Courageous is connected to cor, the Latin word for heart. So, being courageous is living out what’s deep within our heart, even in the face of disapproval or danger.
I think I’m haunted by Dirk because the courage in his heart was Christ, and I want that too.