There is no moonless night darker than that found within a man emptied of hope. At sixty-seven years of age, Walter Maxwell, of Florida, USA, was such a man.
While I was running for cover, from a shower burst of warm rain, I accidentally bumped into him.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I apologized.
“That’s all right,” he replied.
“You seem to enjoy the rain,” I suggested, looking at a man appearing singularly unencumbered.
“I like the rain, when you don’t get wet,” he corrected, with tongue in cheek.
Hearing that oddity made me peer a little closer at him. His attire was failing, though his countenance gave no meaning to that.
“Been here awhile?” I ventured, surrendering to the comfort of a nearby bus shelter.
It was his turn to take a second look at me, with eyes that smiled.
“Oh, that's a story only for ears willing to hear,” he enticed.
The discerning look in his eyes suggested I should be one of the willing, but I really had no time to listen.
“The morning after I was told that they had ‘permanently transitioned’ me at work,” he started, “I remember catapulting awake in stone cold sweat, sometime before dawn. What am I going to do? What is going to become of me?”
With that, I knew I wanted to learn more and . . . well, . . . the rain was still present, and so, . . .
“They fired me,” he continued, “No reason given. Just fired. All they said was that I was now classified permanently transitioned. The thing is that, I had nothing. No savings. Only debts. I was so angry with myself. How could I have been so messed up by the money monkey, all those years?”
Walter related that his boss told him he would be entitled to a severance pay, but when he went to apply, the Payout Office ruled he was three days shy in his work history to qualify.
“I was already behind on my utility bills, the IRS had sent me a letter. I had no car. I was in a real mess. Almost seventy years old and broke. At my age, there was no time to turn my life around; I was skewered by failure, and sewer drained in spirit.”
He then said that after awakening to his living nightmare, he strenuously pulled off his meager bed sheets and sought refuge in the bathroom toilet. After dragging himself there, he wanted to vomit away his troubles, but sat silently on the porcelain rim, instead.
“My eyes burned with firecracker aches, and my brain and belly were whacked with worry,” he pressed on.
Walter told me he was a widower with no family. His wife of only two years died when he and she were still in their twenties, and he never remarried. He had no children or siblings. His parents were both recently deceased.
“I prided myself on being a survivor, no matter what; but then, I felt vacuumed into a ruinous black hole of utter despair. I began to think maybe I should simply suck into an early grave.”
Walter went on to talk about how he curled up in a fetus position, on the bare-boned floor, and cried out to God.
Then for him, the darkness dimmed.
“Strangely, in calling out to God, I thought of my Momma,” he recollected, “I remember her saying, ‘Wally, son, when troubles come, just walk on water, and you won’t get wet.’
I asked Momma what that was suppose to mean. But, she just grinned and said, ‘someday you’ll see’ and so, I just let it go.
Then, one day, I heard a preacher talk about Peter, a fisherman, getting out of his boat, while still out on a lake, and begin to walk on water. Of course, my attention tightened. Then the preacher put it together for me. He said Peter could walk on water, only as long as his eyes were on the eyes of God. When Peter looked elsewhere, he would start to sink.
But, I was puzzled; the eyes of God?
The preacher went on to say ‘the eyes of God are the eyes of Jesus, the same eyes that beckoned Peter to walk on water.’ It finally shone, what my mother wanted me to see."
Recalling all of that, Walter pounded his fist into his open palm and proclaimed, “I decided to fix my eyes on Jesus, and keep fixing my eyes on Jesus, no matter what wet waves were whirling about.”
Walter narrated how over the following number of days bad went to worse, to even worse, to worst. I commented that his conviction in Jesus did not seem to be helping with his troubles.
“Jesus did not take away my water,” he explained, “but with my eyes focused, I’d say cement-glued-hard-tight on Jesus’ eyes,” he boasted, smiling sweetly, “I was sent to the street, but still standing in God; I am walking on water, and not getting wet.”
About that time the rain relented, and a beautiful white sedan pulled up to the bus curb. A surprising thin streak of sunshine slid across the window, as it rolled down. Staring at Walter, the driver yelled out, “What’s your name, mister?”
Without hesitation, Walter moved toward the car, and I more fearfully followed.
“My name is Walter, Walter Maxwell, sir, . . . why do you ask?”
“Well, Mr. Maxwell, every morning going to work, I drive by, and there you are, alone on the street,” the mystery man related, “I mean, I didn’t feel anything particular about it, at first, and then something sort of nagged me, and I couldn't figure out what. Then I saw it. Those eyes of yours, Mr. Maxwell, they are so . . . well, . . steady and serene. They say eyes are windows into the soul, don‘t they?” he mused, giving a generous grin, “Anyway, yesterday, when a posted vacancy became available in my department, I somehow knew it could be for you.
Mr. Maxwell, would you like a job?”
“Would I like a job? Yes, sir, I certainly would like a job!” delighted Walter.
“This is my business card, Mr. Maxwell, come and see me tomorrow morning, at 9:00 am sharp, would you?” the businessman entreated.
“Thank you, sir; I’ll be there!” Walter enthused.
With that, the car left the curb.
For a marvelous moment, eye to eye, Walter and I shared what had just happened, without saying a word.
Fresh clouds chose to roll in, and we decided to go our own way. As we shook goodbye hands, Walter leaned into my ear and beseeched me with words I‘ll always remember. He whispered, “like Momma said, don’t let water get you wet.”
Indeed, Mr. Walter Maxwell was without anyone, but not really alone. He was without house, but not really without home. And because he could see, with eyes not his own, he could walk on his water, without getting wet.
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