Not For Sale
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Joseph Stanton rode from the cemetery in the back of a long, black, limousine. He face was covered in tears and his heart shattered into a million pieces. He had just buried his six-year old son, and was numb with grief.
All during Joey's illness he had prayed to God to save his son's life. Kidney disease had ravaged the little boy's body until it could take no more, and finally gave up last week.
Joseph Stanton had been a God loving man since his teenaged years. He gave his life to Christ at the age of thirteen when his mother died, and Jesus had seen him through the pain. He was a good man, always caring and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Every week he worked at the homeless shelter downtown and led more than a few souls to Jesus.
Now Joseph's own faith was lacking sorely. How could God take his only child? Rebecca, his wife, had left him last year for another man, and even that didn't shake his faith. He came to realize that she had never really loved him and was incapable of loving anyone, except Joey.
Joseph was lost without his son. He started drinking. He was an attorney, and he referred all his clients to his partner and stopped going to work. He stared at the television day and night, not comprehending anything. He no longer cared if he lived or died.
His friends tried to reach out to him, but he stopped answering the phone. One day, his doorbell rang, and someone started pounding on his door. Joseph finally opened it, and was surprised to see J.T. Hughery standing there. JT was one of the homeless men he had befriended at the shelter.
“I ain't seen you down at the soup kitchen lately. Stopped by your office and your pardner tole me where to find you. Sorry to hear about your son, man.”
“Hey JT, come on in.” Joseph led JT into the living room, which was littered from here to there with beer bottles.
“I just came to tell you that I found Jesus! Thought you would be happy for me, given you was always telling me 'bout Him” JT beamed as he spoke.
“I don't believe in God anymore, JT. No God would take my son from me. I prayed for my son's life, and he is dead. Thanks for coming by, but I just want to be left alone.”
“Sorry to hear that, man, but Jesus is for real! If you ever want to see Him, He's down at the shelter in the soup kitchen line. That's where I found Him.” JT sadly shook his head as he headed for the door.
Joseph continued his life as a recluse. He shut everyone out of his life, and within two years lost everything. He eventually became one of the homeless he had volunteered for before Joey died.
Lost and alone, Joseph hitched a train ride out to California, where no one would know him. He walked the streets of Los Angeles for another year. A broken man, he sometimes lived at shelters, ate out of garage cans, and slept in alleys.
The one thing that never left his mind was JT telling him of finding Jesus in the soup kitchen line. Three weeks before Christmas while he was asleep in an alley, another homeless man attacked him. He woke up in a charity hospital, barely conscious. When he came to, he realized he had hit rock bottom. An inner voice told him to finally let Joey rest in peace.
The good people at the hospital gave Joseph some clothes to wear and took up a donation of money for a bus ticket home. He cut his hair and shaved his long beard. He was determined to start over again, and he knew just the man to help him do it.
On Christmas Eve, the bus pulled into his hometown. Joseph went straight to the homeless shelter where he hoped he would find JT working in the kitchen. Sure enough, there stood JT, happily ladling out food for one of the four lines of people.
Joseph slipped into the kitchen and surprised JT with a bear hug. JT's face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Hey, man, I knew you'd be back!” JT said.
“I just have one question.” Joseph smiled at his friend.
“What's that, man?”
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