That Crane Guy

Read: John 13:31-35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (v. 35)

The 22-foot pontoon boat hung precipitously from the top of the 35-foot tree. As it swayed in the heavy wind, it was clear something was going to break or fall. Justin maneuvered his crane into place, and like a baby carefully placed into a crib, the boat was gently lowered to the ground. Payment for the deed? Free, or “whatever you can pay.”

By all accounts, he was just a regular guy. Married, living in Florida with three small children, Justin Hartmann was a former minister turned tree service contractor. When word reached him about the flood that devastated the Mid-Michigan area, he quickly came. Water had propelled watercraft onto rooftops and treetops often hundreds of feet away. Other boats were left dry-docked on the lake bottom entangled in a mass of mud, nowhere near the prior shoreline. Using his specialized heavy equipment, his skills, and a heart to serve, Justin and his team rescued dozens of boats, all without cost to their owners.

Jesus was clear and his mandate incredibly simple: demonstrate, through physical action, love for one another. This is the mark of a disciple.

A three-day trip turned into seven weeks, and 12 boats turned into 150. He has been called a “hero,” “an angel among us.” Some know his name and others just call him “that crane guy.” But for Justin, the name doesn’t matter. It’s all about following Jesus. —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, ask God for opportunities to demonstrate love in action.

About the Author

Tammy DeRuyter is a former stockbroker turned student of theology and history. She holds master’s degrees in both from Fuller Theological Seminary and Central Michigan University. Married for more than 25 years to Michael, an ordained RCA pastor, they have three emerging, young adult children ages 20, 21, and 22—the youngest of whom was adopted at 11.