When I was a small boy, I had a friend that lived near our house. He was very old and liked to tell me about the past. During one of those visits, I asked a question that I will never forget the answer to. Sometimes, when it is quiet, I close my eyes and... it is a warm summer’s day and my old friend is telling me a story.
“Before the settlers knew what was happening, the Indians had surrounded them and were shooting their fiery arrows. Like meteors from the sky, the arrows hit the wagon canvases, which immediately burst into flames. Many of the settlers lay wounded or dying after the attack. Usually, they would circle the wagons for protection, making it harder for the Indians to reach them, but surprise attacks came with no warning.”
“That’s a sad story. Did they all die?”
“Not all; many settlers reached their destinations and built houses and worked the land. The towns we have today were started by those men and women who braved a trail west.”
“Tell me another story, please?” as I snuggled in closer.
“More and more folks found their way west and the towns founded by the settlers grew bigger each day. There were some folks back then that did not want to make an honest living. They would rather rob banks and the townsfolk of their hard earned money.”
“Real outlaws, like Jesse James?” asked with a seven-year olds excitement.
“Yes, real outlaws like Jesse,” he replied. “In fact, Jesse James sat right where you’re sitting now.”
“He was right here, where I am?”
“He sure was. As I recall, Jesse stopped to rest his horse here one afternoon. He had robbed a bank the day before and was on the run. We did not have any conversation, but he looked at me and smiled, as if he knew I would do him no harm.”
“You must be very old to have seen Jesse James. I wish I could have been there.”
“Someday, when you are old, you will have your memories to share with your grandchildren. Maybe, one of the stories will be about an old friend who told you stories when you were a young boy.”
“When I am old like you, I’ll tell them about you and the stories you told.” I thought for a moment, and then asked, “If you knew Jesse James, did you know Jesus, too?” I will never forget my friend’s answer.
“Did I know Jesus? I never saw him as I did Jesse, but I have heard stories. You see many travelers that have come this way talked about their fears, hopes, and dreams. They talked of Jesus, even talked to Him. I know that He is the reason you and I are here.” Do you know Jesus, my little friend?”
“I know Him from Sunday school and from my mom and dad telling me about Him. Jesus is in my heart, because I asked Him to be there. Do you have Him in your heart, too?”
“He knows me and I know Him; He is my Creator and I lift up my arms to Him every day.”
My boyhood summers vanished one day when I was not looking. I have treasured those warm summer memories and stories through the years. I grew old, as my friend said I would, and have shared the stories he told me with my children and grandchildren. We go to see him from time to time and sit and listen, once again, while he spins a yarn from the past. You ask me how can that be; how can my old friend still be here? Let me explain.
I was a young boy with a very big imagination. I once heard that oak trees lived to be very old. They see many things and if they could talk, they would have many stories to tell.
You see, my old friend was an oak tree and my imagination gave him the voice to tell me the stories I longed to hear when I was seven. My old friend with arms upraised still stands near the house where I grew up, waiting for the “imagination” of another child
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