A January Morning

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 you
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


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