5:30 am the alarm goes off, Mike Simon wakes up to the loud music. The
clock is set on the dresser across the bedroom, he has to get up to turn
it off. His wife Ruth gives him a light push. Mike hits the stairs and
goes into the kitchen, the tile floor is bitter cold on his feet. He turns
on the kitchen light, the coffee is just starting to brew, timer, what
a sweet idea. January is here, the first big snow hit last week, and now
the real cold is creeping in. A cold draft engulfs the house. Mike goes
to the computer and reads his emails with a hot cup of his favorite coffee.
A New Year is upon Mike, his wife and two kids. New highs and new lows,
new laughs and new sad's, new trials and new victories, but isn't that
what life is all about? But Mike has someone to help through the bad times
and praises through the good times, Jesus Christ. Mike takes a sip of
the hot coffee, the heat feels good. He reflects back on the last four
years of his life, his walk with Christ, being the sole Christian in the
family. Sometimes the burden is too much to bear, but all things are bearable
when we lean on Jesus. Sometimes Mike wonders way he ignored God for twenty
years of his life, and why God would start working on his heart after
so long. For the longest time Mike lived in the chains of shame: A shame
that he had let God down and God did not love him anymore. But of course
that was a lie. God was there the day Mike fell to his knees and asked
for utter forgiveness. Arms wide open, always faithful, he never leaves
us, he calls the lost and the backslidden to his love. Sometimes our minds
wander. There is no essence of time, like you're in a thin haze, or some
kind of strange trance. Mike snaps out of it and realizes he's looking
out of the ice-covered kitchen window. He was there for minutes upon minutes
looking out but not seeing anything. Maybe there are moments we go into
deep thoughts of good for our own well-being, a small bit of comfort.
The clock says 6:15. Mike's late for work, but that's nothing new.
The same morning, Bob Vaughn wakes to a loud pounding, the pounding in
his head due to night after night of alcohol and drug use. But the worst
is the nightmares; will they ever go away? Bob lives alone, no girlfriend
and no friends. But he does have acquaintances that are just like him.
They all are new age Robin Hoods who steal from the rich and give to themselves.
But a thief won't trust even his own kind. It's time to get up and get
going, need to thumb a ride to Hainsberg, the next town over. Bob wishes
he had a driver's license, but not smart enough to know when to put the
bottle down. Done too much county jail time, he knows his luck is running
thin, one more DUI and he's off to the big house. But no need to worry
about that right now, Bob grabs his pistol and shoves it into his inner
coat pocket. There's a convenience store nearby. Bob and one of his acquaintances
are going to hit it tonight. Bob puts on the hat and gloves that were
on the table, opens the door and looks back, just making sure he has everything.
Slamming the door shut, he walks into the early morning cold. It's freezing
out, and the pounding is still in his head.
Mike is cruising down route 113 to Hainsberg, the commute from his house
is about seven miles. Lots of wide-open road and some scattered housing,
but not too much. Mike hits the hill in the truck and speeds down the
back slop. To his amazement someone is hitchhiking in the distance. Mike
hasn't been known for picking people up off the side of the road. As he
gets closer he can see that there it's a man walking. Mike's first thought
is don't stop, keep going, trouble. But the Spirit that dwells in Mike
says stop, this man needs help. Mike prays, ok Father in heaven, please
be with me. Mike rolls the truck to a stop beside the man. Outside it
is freezing, the man reaches for the door handle. The door swings open
and Bob Vaughn jumps in. They both greet each other with a good morning
and Bob thanks him for the ride. A little small talk is going on and Bob
starts to finally thaw out, the pounding in his head is going away. Weird,
that's usually lasts till he starts drinking again. He looks into the
side pocket of the door and sees a Bible. Great, a Christian freak, lovely.
At the same moment, God is working on Mike's heart: "Talk to this
man, tell him about my son and me; tell him what I have done for you.
Time is running out, he needs to hear about me." Mike just started
talking about coming to know the Lord in jail, twenty years ago, how he
slipped away and came back. About how Jesus died on the cross for our
sins, that if we believe, we will be saved. By this time they're rolling
into Hainsberg, Mike hands Bob a sticker that says "Jesus Christ"
with a small picture of Christ hanging on the cross in the corner. On
the other side it reads, "John 3:16." Bob takes the sticker
and shoves it into his coat pocket. Bob says "Thanks," but inside
he just wants to get out of this truck. Bob tells Mike, "just drop
me off at the restaurant on the right." Mike pulls up, reaches into
his pocket, pulls out a twenty and hands it to Bob. "Have a nice
hot breakfast on me Bob, God bless." Mike pulls away and heads to
work. Bob just looks at him driving away, slips the twenty into his pocket.
Bob thinks to himself, "What a freak."
Mike pulls away and heads to work, wondering if he was too overbearing
with Bob, but it felt like the Spirit was talking through him and the
words just flowed out. Mike starts praying to God, "Father there's
a reason that our paths crossed this morning, I pray he comes to know
and your son Jesus. Thank you." Mike looks out at the winter landscape
and the colors in the January sky, what a beautiful day this is. "Thank
you again, Father." But how would this morning have been different
if Mike would have known the man sitting in his truck was carrying a gun?
Bob Vaughn slides into the booth and the waitress asks if he would like
some coffee. "Sure, why not, and the best breakfast you have, I've
got twenty to blow." Big man for the moment, got the world by the
pull strings. But in the real world he has nothing, just twenty bucks.
Bob reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out the Jesus sticker, looks
at the man hanging on the cross. "Mike said if I believe in the man
they call Jesus I would be saved. I don't need this guy, or anybody else,
I've got myself." Just then the waitress comes back to refill his
coffee, she sees the sticker. "Cool sticker, I'm a believer too."
She smiles and walks to another table. Bob just looks at her and says
under his breath, "Great, another freak."
The food comes, but there's no hunger now, Bob's thoughts have started
to take over. Why was this Mike guy so nice to him, he's never met the
guy before, plus he gives me money, no questions asked. And this Jesus
guy Mike was talking about, like he knew the man or something.
Bob's mind falls back even farther and deeper, he starts thinking of his
mother, the mother he has not talked to in years. The mother that beat
and ridiculed him when he was young, and a father that was never there,
then one day just never showed up again. When Bob was old enough to move
out, he told his mother he never wanted to see her again. Then one day
he gets a letter and a package from his mother, the letter was about how
she came to know Jesus, she asked Bob to forgive her. The package was
a Bible; both went into the trash. Bob snaps out of his dream. Now a thought
comes into Bob's mind "go home, go home." Bob's mind is in a
race now, he came here to rob and get out of this town and get back home.
But something is telling him to get back home now. Bob questions his own
sanity, "Am I going nuts, or what?" Bob pays for the food and
goes through the door to the cold outdoors, hits the highway again with
his thumb out, heading back home.
Bob lucks out and gets a ride back into town, walks about six blocks to
his apartment, gets his key out and goes in out of the cold. Doesn't even
turn on the light, just sits in the ratty, oversized chair in the corner.
Why couldn't he go through with the robbery? He knew the answer, it was
that Jesus freak Mike. Jesus this, Jesus that, man, shut up. But deep
down Bob knew he liked Mike, because he had talked to Bob like he cared
about him. Out of nowhere the tears start to flow and Bob curls up in
the chair like a child. The tears turn into sobs, then adult crying. After
about fifteen minutes, Bob finally pulls himself together and reaches
into his pocket to pull out the sticker. Jesus Christ, John 3:16. Bob
puts it back into his pocket and decides to hit the winter night. While
Bob is walking his mind is working in overtime, something is going on
inside him that he doesn't understand. "What's wrong with me?"
He walks down Elm and onto the bridge and looks down at the river running
by. Bob looks around, then reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out
the gun, leans over the side of the bridge and lets it drop. The gun splashes
into the water and sinks. Bob turns and starts walking again, to where,
he has no idea.
Pastor Robert Jamason is finishing up something in his office at the church,
and then he's calling it a night. Robert is tired, beat tired. The colon
cancer had been there for years, spreading through his body, making him
sick. Then one day this doctor came in and knew there was something really
wrong with him. Thanks to her she found the cancer. He believes she was
a blessing from God, so many had looked but never found anything. She
knew it right away. Was Robert worried about dying? No, but worried about
leaving his family and leaving the church. Plus, there are so many people
that need to hear God's word and know about his son Jesus. Robert never
lost his faith and love for God through all the struggles with the cancer.
It brought him closer to God. He praises God when he's so tired he can
barely move, but everyday he gets stronger, physically and spiritually.
Robert turns the light off in his office. It's time to lock up the church
and go home. Robert walks down the hallway and just glances into the worship
hall and stops in his tracks. There's a man standing in front of the pews
just staring at the big cross on the wall. Robert walks in and asks "Can
I help you sir?" But the man doesn't move. Robert walks up to the
guy, "Can I help you?" Bob Vaughn turns and looks at Robert,
the tears are running down his face onto his shirt and coat. "Tell
me about Jesus!"
Mike drives down the same road every day, sometimes he thinks of Bob and
wonders if he will ever see him again. Mike smiles, There was something
about that guy he liked. Sunday in Church, sitting with his new girlfriend
and his mother, Bob looks down at the sticker on his Bible and runs his
thumb over it. He smiles and says to himself, "Thanks Mike."
Wayne Roe 06