Just Bruce

by DanWolgemuth on March 19, 2021

I met Mary’s oldest brother in the Spring of 1975. We were sitting around a kitchen table in Indianapolis where I was an invited guest for a Sunday lunch.

I was 20, and Bruce Cargo was 25. I was a sophomore at Taylor University, Bruce was a Vietnam veteran. I had been the co-captain of my high school wrestling team, and Bruce had walked point for his army troop through the jungles of southeast Asia.

Bruce was physically imposing, I was average. I was working my way through Biblical Literature, and Bruce was hunkered down in an industrial job.

I was falling in love with Bruce’s kid sister, and at this point, he knew her better and loved her more.

We could hardly have been more different, and yet, right from the start… kindred spirits. Brothers before we were brothers.

Bruce. Yes, just Bruce.

In fact, when our kids were born, Bruce refused to let them call him Uncle Bruce. Instead, he would correct them and say… “No, just Bruce”. And consequently, that’s how he came to be known by all of his nieces and nephews… Just Bruce.

Yet, in reality this man is anything but “just”. Authentic, yes. Tender, absolutely. Unconventional, of course… but hardly, “just”.

A week ago, Bruce arrived back at his home in rural Michigan after 44 days in the hospital due to COVID-19. A fight for life… not in the jungle, but in the recesses of his lungs. And during this battle, Bruce’s simple prayer was a single word. A single name. Jesus.

Just Bruce. Just Jesus.

In the jungles of Vietnam. Through the turbulent and disrespectful return to his home country. Through the life-extinguishing battle with cancer that he endured with his first wife. During the ups and downs of fatherhood. And in the vast valley of COVID uncertainty.

Just Bruce. Just Jesus.

It’s no wonder that Bruce clings to Christ, after all our Savior was unintimidated by being described as “just” Jesus.

“We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” (Matthew 13:55-56, The Message)

When others are apt to use a resume or a diploma or a business card or a Balance Sheet to define who or what they are… not Bruce. Never Bruce. And with this posture, Bruce can pray the simple prayer that got him through the jungles and out of ICU…

Yes, always and only…

Just Jesus.

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