Am I willing today…how about you
It started out peaceful enough. It was another Friday night at the Zanzibar a local watering hole in Aurora Colorado. I was on maybe my fourth ‘boiler-maker’, a shot of whiskey and a beer. As the TGIF crowd started to gather I was thinking it was time to head to the house. I hadn’t notice a guy had sat at the bar stool next to me. He nudged me with his elbow and said, “You look like you just got off work.” In my mind I was thinking, “What was your first clue, Sherlock? Maybe cause I am still in my work clothes.” But I just said “Yeah.”
He was quiet for what seemed a long time but he spoke again, “What are you in construction or something?” Now I turned to look and was shocked to see a man who was wearing the outfit of what I guessed to be a Christian minister. The bells went off in my head, “Oh no, another Jesus pusher.” Now I was sure it was time to head home!
He smiled and said, “My name is Jim.” With that he held out a large hand and after a long moment I shook it. I rose to leave and as I did he gently put his hand on my shoulder and said, “No need to run off, sit let’s talk for a bit.” I shook his hand off and headed out to the parking lot. As I unlocked my door, Jim was walking up, he said, “Son, when I came in the bar I noticed you. You looked so alone.” Then he said something that stuck with me even though I did not know it at the time, “There was once a man…’He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces…’” As he said these words I slammed my truck door gunned my engine and sped away. As I did I flipped Jim the ‘bird’.
I never saw Jim again and never thought of his words until in 2013. My wife was listening to a sermon in the room next to my office and I heard those exact words again, “Our savior, He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows….” I stopped what I was doing, the memory of Jim flooded back to me. His gentle eyes seem to be penetrating my heart. I felt remorse that I had not sat and talked to him, that I had treated him with disrespect and anger. As I listened to the rest of that sermon on Isaiah 53, I took a moment to ask God for forgiveness and pray for Jim.
We never know how what we say or what we do will affect others. I knew so many people in my life that treated me rudely or even with violence. The funny thing is that most of these times or events seem to blend together, few of them remembered. But the words and deeply peaceful gentle eyes of Jim came back to me. And even though I felt remorse I also felt encouraged. Someone in my time of aloneness had reached out and tried to show me the love of God and I felt at that moment could I do any less.
Well you know I have done less many times. Not boldly reaching out to someone in need or taking that chance to talk to someone who just needs a friend. Still daily I find encouragement in the words and actions of Jesus and the leper man who says to Him, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, “I am willing,” he said “be clean.” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:2-3). Jesus was not only willing but He acted on it. He reached out and was willing to touch even one who was thought to be unclean. That is what I want to do!
So today I am remembering Jim and if by God’s will he reads this, I want to say, “Thanks.” Either way I hope to meet him in the kingdom on the day of Jesus return. And like Jesus and Jim maybe today I can be ‘willing’.
Am I willing today…how about you