Small Town Royalty
It is amazing what one word can bring to oneís mind. Purple? First off I think of royalty. Then I think of Ralph. Now if you were to meet Ralph, royalty would not be a description that you would apply to him. No sir re!
Ralph is a big guy. He carries himself with an awkward tilt to the right with his arm hanging limp. He is dressed shabbily and looks as though he rarely cleans up.
Ralph hasnít worked for many years, although at one time he was a prominent lawyer. Some say he had a nervous breakdown. Others have different stories. Personally, I donít think people know his story, and most donít care. He is known, however, because he makes the rounds of the town visiting with anyone who will show him kindness and interest.
Eventually I took special interest in Ralph, as when I was young I had an uncle who was much like Ralph. My uncle worked but at what I thought was unimportant occupations. Where he was like Ralph, he did not keep himself clean. I was ashamed of my uncle.
It was only as an adult and years after my uncle passed on, that I learned more about him. He had grown up on an Iowa farm and had left school early to help the family out. He eventually joined the army where he served in World War II. The war, according to my mother, changed him and he was never to be the same. He lost his life surely as if he had died. He gave it for his country Ö and me! Once having this revelation, I was ashamed of me.
Ralph would visit the library, where I worked, daily. At first I did not take interest in him unless you count my cringing at his un-bathed shabby clothed appearance. I wasnít rude with him, but I did not engage in conversation that would cause him to linger any longer than necessary. Ralph did not want service. He just wanted someone to talk with him. He needed someone to make his day a little bit brighter. As a Christian I should have jumped at the opportunity to serve the Lord in that way, but I didnít.
It wasnít long when the Holy Spirit started conversing with me. He brought to my mind the comparison of my uncle with Ralph. I felt the shame I felt for having not accepted my uncle for more than his appearance. And then I was reminded that I did not have all the facts behind Ralph. Like my uncle, he may have fought in a war. Maybe his heart had gotten broken.
He did once tell me about a girlfriend who had broken off their relationship. He carries the pain with him as he recalls the vision of her turning away from him wearing her purple coat. Ralph does not like purple. To him it represents pain.
Anyway, thinking of my uncle and how I can never make up to him for how I treated and related with him in shame, I decided to do the right thing by Ralph. I befriended him and I witnessed to him. Ralph is very intelligent. He has read the Bible but he cannot believe in the words. I pray for him and I know that one day the Holy Spirit will open his mind to receive the truth and soften his heart to receive Jesus.
Ralph told me one day, when I wore a purple blouse, that God will punish me for that. I responded to Ralph that purple is one of Godís colors.
Ralph doesnít know it, but I will pray that one day he will find Jesus and be saved. That day he will be healed of his loss and pain. He will see life in a new and wonderful way. He may even learn to like the color purple. Ralph will see that in Godís eyes he is royalty in his own small town. His Heavenly Father will love him forever and never walk away, wearing purple or not.
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