We Did Not Esteem Him
"He was despised and forsaken of men, a man
of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was
despised and we did not esteem Him" (Isaiah 53:3)
On a recent Sunday, we attended the chapel service at the VA Hospital, in Long Beach,
CA. We were guests of Dennis Stinson, who has been a Guest Speaker for Friday Study
Ministries. (See "The Slip" in Especially For Men). The dignified chapel service
was led by Chaplain (General) Vogel, and included a bag piper in full costume, including
kilt and traditional dagger.
But it was the unexpected service-after-the-service that moved our hearts and caused
the writing of these words. After the service, we followed Dennis Stinsons
wheelchair, down one hallway and "up" another, as we made our way through
building after building within the VA complex. We were on our way to visit with Dennis
We knew little about him, only that the two Dennis are friends, and
"our" Dennis thinks the world of him. We found out why he does.
Dennis Broxton is a dignified man, who has been an ordained Pastor for some 30-years.
As this is written, he is 80-years old, and things are not going well for him. That is,
things are not going well OUTWARDLY. Inside this man is the Holy Spirit of
God, and he "has" our Lord in a manner that most of us do not even understand.
This Dennis has been paralyzed (both Dennis are quadriplegics) for many years,
from whatever incident I do not know at this time. He is able to use his arms but his
hands bend back at an awkward angle and he does not have the use of them. I say
"awkward" with some hesitation, because there is nothing "awkward"
about this man at all. He is a man of grace; as stated, a man full of the Holy Spirit of
Two weeks ago, he went into the hospital for a procedure which was to determine why an
open sore on his heel would not go away. They discovered gangrene and his leg was removed
above the knee. This was difficult for him, because he wanted to die a "whole
We knew this but saw no evidence of any personal grief or sadness in him. All we saw
was his gentle smile, his tears for us, the people he was ministering to, and for His God.
He continually quoted verse-after-verse, and he seemed to be able to quote whole chapters,
while ministering the Word of God to us.
And he was generous as we shared Isaiah 53. My memory is less effective than his and my
Bible was open to that chapter. Isaiah 53 (and the surrounding context) was written into
his heart just as surely as the Gettysburg Address is written on the Lincoln Memorial. He
would pause and glance toward me, and I would finish the verse. Time-after-time he would
pause and look to me to complete that which he knew very well.
His illustrations on the verses were exquisite in beauty, as he touched these verses
with the Holy Spirit Who was in him. And then he paused and asked, "Ron, what do you
think?" And I gave the imagery which was in my heart at that moment. Genevieve, who
was there and shared in this time, said later he "looked like a man of 60," and
"all the lines in your (my)
face were gone." The Holy Spirit will make you young
(and free no matter what your outward circumstance may seem to be).
We brought a dipped (in grape juice) wafer, which Chaplain Vogel had kindly provided
from the chapel service, and continued to share Isaiah 53 for some time, which was
Dennis chosen verse for communion. When it was time, he took the wafer with great
Dennis is on a cross of sorts, because he is alive and yet his body has become useless
to him, a thing of pain. (Quadriplegics often feel "phantom" pains which cause
them a lot of difficulty.) Jesus said we are to "take up"
the "cross" in our lives (Luke 9:23) but He never
said we could do it in our own strength. He also said the "yoke"
He places upon us will be "easy" and the "burden" will be "light".
This apparent paradox is explained by the fact that we do not bear things alone
When we fall, He lifts us up, and He bears the burden with us. His Spirit bears us up with
The cross is very hard, indeed, impossible to bear for Dennis Broxton. And yet,
as we were sharing back-and-forth at his hospital bed, we were like young boys together,
full of the wonder of the Holy Spirit of God. Dennis GIVES (as does our Lord), to all he
Some would see Dennis and not understand. It was the same with Jesus, as He hung on
that cross, 2000 years ago. He was "helpless" and yet in His helplessness, He
saved the WORLD by remaining on that tree. And his work was a voluntary act, for He could
have come off that cross at any moment and destroyed his tormentors, along with the rest
of the human race. He loves you and me more than His personal comfort.
I am alive because of Jesus Christ and His death for me. Dennis Broxton is more alive
than anybody I ever met, and it is understood that many would not comprehend the life that
is in him. Many would dismiss him as an elderly black man in a hospital bed. He would not
be "esteemed" by some, but he is ALIVE as few men are.
There is a "life" when we think were alive, and there is real LIFE,
which is in Christ Jesus. Some would think of Dennis as "helpless" but the real
definition of helplessness is when you become so busy, you have no time for anything or
To be ALIVE and FREE is to be like him, who has the time and the God-given inclination
to reach out and touch people like you and me.
This was true of our Lord. We "esteemed Him stricken,
smitten of God and afflicted," but the Scripture continues (Isaiah 53:4-6),
"He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed
for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging
we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own
way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
There is so much MORE to life than money and cars and "friends" and success,
and all the trappings which accompany such things. Dennis is a "poor man" (as he
says) who yet has more than we even comprehend. During our time with him, we spoke of
billionaire Howard Hughes, who had "everything" but now has nothing at all.
Look at your life, and look at his. If you lost it all, would you still love our Lord?
If you had nothing, would you trust in Him? Are you depressed by your circumstances? The
"cross" that is borne by Dennis Broxton, has made him the greatest man I have
Soon and very soon he will WALK on the other side, whereas others who have
"more" will lose it all. The words "Well done thou good and faithful
servant" are reserved for him, and also for you if only you place your trust
in our Lord, no matter WHAT the outward circumstances of your life may seem to be.
Thank you, Lord, that the iniquity of us all, has fallen on our Lord. Thank You, Lord,
for setting us free. Thank you for men like Dennis Broxton, in whose eyes we can see the
glory of God. Bless this man even more, and thank You for him. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Subsequent to this sermon, Pastor Dennis Broxton went home to be with the
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries