Bronze Man

When you give of yourself, what could be the possibilities?

bronze man


A young man, strong and lean, bronzed as from out of a fire, appeared in the city. Around him churned honking taxis, rumbling trains, grinding trucks, and huffing, sweat-drenched bodies bustling through caverns of concrete, glass, and steel.

He walked to the city hall, where men and women marched up and down a hillside of steps, past pillars and heavy doors. They wore dark suits and stiff white collars that choked them. In their briefcases were documents, signatures, and stamps of power. The Bronze Man turned away. He walked through the financial district, stopped briefly, and went on. He passed through bustling merchandising districts and spoke to anyone who stood still. When he would not buy, they turned away. He ventured into places not marked on the map, where people lived in cardboard boxes and others carried guns and sold pills and bags of white powder. But the Bronze Man would not buy, so they turned away. And he walked on.

He hiked to the outskirts of the city, out of the peoples’ way. He faced the city, raised his hands and shouted, “I have come to change your city! I created this land that was once a vast forest, but you have built on it this city that has turned away from its maker. I have come to restore your soul!”

Many people stopped. “Where did he come from?”

He raised his hands again: “Turn around! The city is to be rebuilt! Come! Follow me!” The people stared.

The Bronze Man turned and marched on. Some people went back to their transactions; some kept staring; some followed just to see what he would do.

“To rebuild a city,” he said, “we need hands to work. Give me your hands!”

“What will you give us?” they asked.

“A new city.”

“Impossible!” scowled one.

“A bit strange but remarkable,” mused another.

“Maybe worthwhile,” wondered a third.

“Who will give me their hands?” asked the Bronze Man.

“I need both hands to work,” protested one.

“I need both hands to sail my yacht,” smiled another.

“Is anyone willing to give me their hands?”

“I will,” rose a voice from the back of the crowd. A young woman stepped up. She held a baby in one arm and clutched a teetering child in the other. A third older one tugged forward and back at her dress. “Without hands I can still nurse my baby. Though I must cook and clean, my children and husband will help.”

Like lightning, the Bronze Man thrust his hand, and in the blinding flash both her hands were gone. She, with her children, followed him as he walked on.

“To rebuild a city,” he said, “we need feet to travel. Give me your feet.”

“What will you give us?” they asked.

“A new city.”

“I need both feet to walk,” scowled one. “Isn’t that reasonable?”

“Who is willing to give me their feet?” asked the Bronze Man.

“I will,” called a voice from the edge of the spectators. An elderly man stepped forward. “I love nothing more than to walk early each morning and hike in the countryside. But I have hiked enough. I am content to sit and enjoy the earth from a chair.”

In a flash the Bronze Man thrust out his hand and seized the man’s feet. The woman whose hands had just been taken bent to give him her shoulders. He took hold of her, and she carried him along with her children following the Bronze Man.

“To rebuild a city, we need eyes to see.”

“What will you give us?” they asked.

“A new city.”

“I need my eyes,” protested one. “If I give my eyes, I will be completely blind. It is unthinkable. I can’t do that.”

“Who will give me their eyes?”

A young man stepped forward. “I will. I am a university student. I often study long into the night. But I have learned enough from books and am ready to learn from darkness.”

Again the blazing flash, and the man’s eyes were gone, leaving empty sockets in his face. The man whose legs had been severed held onto the young mother with one hand and gave the other hand to lead the blind young man.

“To rebuild a city, we need mouths to speak.”

“What will you give us?” they asked.

“A new city.”

“We cannot give you our mouths,” laughed one. “That’s impossible.”

Said another, “Even if we could, we wouldn’t be able to speak one word to each other. How could we do business?”

“Who will give me their mouth?”

A woman stepped from the side. She was middle aged, slightly grayed and very refined. She looked up. “I am a teacher. I have spoken to my students countless hours over many years, with many years ahead. But from now on, I will use only the chalk in my hand.”

In a flash the Bronze Man wiped out her mouth. The blind student reached out his hand to her, groping until she caught it.

They walked on.

“To rebuild a city, we need ears to hear.”

“What will you give us?” they sneered.

“A new city.”

“If we give our ears, we could not hear what anyone says to us; we could not hear music; we could not hear sirens or horns; it’s dangerous.”

“Who will give me their ears?”

“I believe I must,” confessed a woman standing before him. “I am a guitarist and a composer. I have sold records and have performances scheduled for the next three years. But I will rely on what I can play and sing by memory and hope the sounds come out right.”

The flash again, and both her ears were gone. The teacher took her hand and comforted her.

“To rebuild a city, we need minds to think.”

“Now you’ve gone too far, Bronze Man,” growled one.

“Yeah,” groused another, “too far. If we give you our minds, you’ll control us. No way. Get out of here.”

Still another sniveled, “And for this you will again promise us a new city?”

“Yes. You have said it.”

“You’re dangerous, Bronze Man,” one shouted. “Get away from our city.”

“Who will give me their mind?”

Silence fell. A shuffle in the crowd. A man stepped forward—one the Bronze Man recognized from the steps of city hall. In his blue pinstriped suit and wing tip shoes, he looked less confident than before. He set his briefcase down. “I own a stock brokerage, land, and shares in the largest corporations in the region. Making the right decisions quickly is essential to everything I do. But perhaps I have earned enough. If I have made any friends, I will trust them to help me through.”

The crowd leaped back and cowered under a roaring flash, as the Bronze Man pierced his head. The man reeled and stumbled in a daze. When the air settled, the musician picked up his briefcase and held his arm.

The Bronze Man walked along with his maimed and hobbling followers. The surrounding crowd grew larger. He stopped.

“To rebuild a city we must have hearts to love and to care.”

“This is a dangerous man!” screamed one. “He’s going to take everything we have, everything we are! Don’t follow him! You’ll lose everything!”

Another cried, “Go away, Bronze Man! You’re a dreamer and a deceiver. You can’t rebuild the city. You’re only exploiting us!” Other joined in and still others, denouncing him and ridiculing those who followed.

“What will you give us?” taunted one.

“A new city.”

“Liar!” they howled. “Liar! It’s impossible!”

At the top of his voice the Bronze Man shouted, “Who . . . will give me . . . their heart?”

The crowd quieted: fear, expectation, curiosity all at once.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” snickered a voice as a short, stout figure came to the front. “He ain’t got a heart.” The man appeared fatigued and was dirty from head to foot in worn out clothes, with missing teeth and hair cropped haphazardly. Ashamed even to look at the Bronze Man, he bowed his head to the ground. Then he found himself too embarrassed to speak and only stood in silence.

“Go home and take a bath, you slob.” Laughter rippled through the crowd. The short, stout slob swayed one way and then the other in fright. He turned to slither back into the crowd, humiliated that he had been so presumptuous.

“Stop,” said the Bronze Man.

He stopped.


“I . . . I am only a day laborer. I have no education, no money, no skill. I live on the street. Maybe I don’t have much of a heart left—I’ve thrown so much of it away.” He broke off and only shook his head. “But if you still want my heart, it’s yours.”

The blinding flash. Those in the front of the crowd toppled back as the Bronze Man pierced the man’s chest. He jolted back. The businessman staggered around and took hold of his hand. The day laborer staggered to the mother, and taking one of the children on his arm, he held the stump where her hand had been.

The crowd stood silent. The Bronze Man looked on his seven followers. A tear formed in his eye, and then another and another streamed down his cheeks. They had made a circle. And they had formed it around him. He was in the center.

He looked across to the crowd. Again he wept. But his tears for the crowd were different.

He looked again at his followers. “It is enough,” he said. And he turned and walked slowly toward the city. Walking and staggering in their circle around him, his followers did not say or ask anything. They only followed.

On through the day they walked, slowly, diligently. They did not argue. They did not suggest. They only followed.

*         *         *

It is said that as time passed, strange things began happening in the city. The police received fewer calls. Teachers noted fewer problems with students. Hospitals discharged record numbers of patients. Homeless shelters and drug treatment centers actually went out and looked for people. Churches overflowed. City hall approved a plan to turn two torn down blocks in the center of the city into a park that would resemble a forest, because that, the historians and geologists said, is what had originally been there.

Many reported seeing an unusual group of people: A woman with three kids worked incessantly to help people in need; an old man who walked tirelessly from home to home telling good news; a university student who, with an eagle eye, exposed corruption in the city; a teacher who captivated audiences, inspiring them to help change the city; a musician who played wondrous melodies, melting the hearts of those who heard; a businessman who masterminded unprecedented reforms; and a day laborer who poured out such love that the hardest of hearts broke down and shared the same love with others.

The strangest of all the people in this group looked like a bronze-colored man. He was always at the center and appeared most important to them. It was odd because he had no hands, no feet, no eyes, no mouth, no ears, and both his head and chest were pierced open. Yet there was a power about this man—all the people seemed to get their energy from him. A closer look revealed that the Bronze Man was not physically there at all. He had entered into each of his followers, and they were all becoming bronze.


For Thought and Discussion

  • How is Galatians 2:20 expressed in the story? How is it expressed in your life?
  • God reveals the ideals for a city in Isaiah 65:17–25, in this case the new Jerusalem. In what ways can Christians begin to realize, or at least work toward, those ideals here and now?
  • What gifts or abilities do you have to offer the Lord? What are you offering Him now? Is there any specific way you could or should involve yourself in ministry beyond where you are at now or instead of what you are doing now?

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