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The Final Straw
by Gary Sims
Not For Sale
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Kevin was having a bad day. He had just been fired from his fourth job in the last year. No matter how hard he tried, or how hard he worked, it seemed as though, eventually, everything would fall apart. This time it was an accident. It wasn't his fault that the roads were slick and visibility was poor. Yes, he may have been driving a bit too fast for the conditions but didn't they want the deliveries completed before the end of the day? Weren't they the ones who insisted that he drive in the snow storm in a van with questionable tires? Yes, he had lied about his driving experiences but a van isn't much different than a car - surely anyone can drive a van. How was he supposed to know that the back would fish-tail around on ice when there was no cargo inside? Besides, he was driving the speed limit.

Okay. He had rolled the van, completely destroying it and injuring his shoulder in the process. Okay, maybe he had taken a few extra days - weeks - off to allow his shoulder to heal, but it really did hurt. Maybe he had taken advantage of the company credit card to fill his own gas tank but he didn't have any money and the office was twenty miles away. Was he supposed to drive the far on his own gas money? Yes, he had taken a few days of his disability leave to work for his brother's construction company. How was he supposed to know that lifting those roofing tiles would have caused his shoulder to be re-injured?

It had been a bad day, but losing the job wasn't the worst part. After all, who wants to be a delivery boy? It was a demeaning job. The worse part was Karen's reaction. They had had another one of their fights when she heard the news. "This is the final straw," she said. The fights had been happening so frequently lately that he didn't even want to go home at nights. It was easier to stay at a friend's house after the bars closed then to face the constant yelling and screaming. For awhile the kids had been fun to be with while Karen worked but they were too demanding, always needing something. It had been easier just to drop them off at their grandmother's house and head straight to the bar - after all, he needed some support. The people at the bar seemed to understand his struggles better than anyone else.

So Karen had left him. Actually, she had kicked him out of the house. She even had gotten a judge to issue restraining order against him. He hadn't hit her that hard. She just kept talking and wouldn't listen to a single word he had to say. It was just a slap to get her attention. It seemed that he it was the only way she would listen any more. He agreed that the slaps had been getting harder. He didn't really mean to give her a black eye; she had just ducked in the wrong direction.

So now he was alone, sitting on a curb with no where to stay and no money. He couldn't even get a drink because his favorite bars had refused to give him any more credit. What was he supposed to do? Was this the end of the line? Was there any hope left? Putting his head in his hands he thought back through his life.

He remembered the better times. When he and Karen were first married there had been such high hope. She was beautiful and they were in love. For a couple of years he had attended her church with her. He had heard the messages of hope and had accepted Christ as his savior. It was a good time. The sun seemed to be always shining. But he had grown bored with church life and had started staying home to watch football and to hang out with the guys. Thinking back now from his curbside perspective, he could see that the beginning of his problems with Karen began when he choose other activities instead of church. It was a short time later when he had lost his first job. The first steps of self-destruction. He wondered if there was any hope left; if God still cared about him at all.

"God? If you are out there, will you help me? I am poor and helpless. I have done some very bad things. I am worthless. No one wants me around and they have good reasons for feeling that way. Every choice I have made in my life has been a step into sin. God? Do you still love me? Can you still love me in spite of all my sin? They say you do. If so, if you can forgive even me, if you think your love can reach into my life, will you show me a sign? Will you send someone to me tonight that will help me take the first steps away from this life I have created?"

The dark and cold of the winter night blew through the fibers of his light jacket. He huddled his arms tighter around his waist and listened for a response. Only the sounds of cars passing by and distant dogs barking broke the silence; the sounds of silence of a ruined life. God was not going to answer his prayer. Why should He?

He took a deep breath and began to stand. If he were going to spend the night on the street he better find a little more shelter. Just as he began to walk off a van drove up and stopped. "Sir? Can I help you?"

Kevin looked back to see the cross on the back of the van and several people huddled inside.

"Sir? Do you have a place to stay tonight? Do you want to come with us and stay at the shelter at St. Stephen's? We have some soup and warm blankets for you."

Kevin looked up into the night's sky. He could see snow flakes in the street light that had begun to fall. It promised to be a heavy storm. He looked into the friendly eyes coming closer to him. Was this an answer to his prayer? Did God really love him after all?
"Come along, sir. Let us take care of you."

Closing Prayer:

Glorious Father: "If you are out there, will you help us? We are poor and helpless. We have done some very bad things. We are worthless. No one wants us around and they have good reasons for feeling that way. Every choice we have made in our lives has been a step into sin. God? Do you still love us? Can you still love us in spite of all our sins? They say you do. If so, if you can forgive even us, if you think your love can reach into our lives, will you show us a sign? Will you send someone to us today that will help us take the first steps away from this life we have created?" Will you protect us and lead us away from the power of sin and into a life with Christ? Show us a sign of your goodness. We are lost but we know that "if (we) forget about (ourselves) and look to (Christ), (we'll) find both (ourselves) and (you)." (Matt 10:39) Thank you for your love and grace, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Inspired by Psalm 86:1-10 and Romans 6:1-11

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