“Get real man! Ya’ don’t really believe that!”
McStandish smiles, takes out his worn New Testament and flips folded pages.
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either (Luke 6:27-29 NAS).”
The cynic sneered and said, “I’m no doormat! Yer’ a jerk; nobody’s gonna’ walk all over me!”
McStandish scuffed his boot in the dirt. “Gotta’ fergive them that hurts us, just like Jesus said when talkin’ with Peter.”
He quickly found the passage and spoke gently.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18: 21-22 NAS).”
“McStandish, yer’ a religious fanatic! Nobody’s gonna make a fool outa’ me and live to tell it!”
“Know it don’t come easy, ain’t no way I could fergive you, fer calling me names.”
(He points to his heart and begins to stammer through controlled sobs.)
“It’s Jesus. Jesus lives in here; He fergives; it’s not me.”
“Jesus doesn’t mean anything to me; don’t need a religious crutch! I’m gonna’ go get a drink.”
“Yer’ crutch is booze, useta’ be mine till the Lord took my taste fer it away.”
“You never give up, do you? I don’t want what yer’ pushin!”
“Jesus loves you. He’s knockin’ at yer’ heart’s door.”
“That’s outlandish, McStandish! If he’s knockin’ he’ll have a long wait!”
McStandish followed the departing man through tear-filled eyes and whispered a prayer for God to watch over the black sheep. The clock on the street corner caught his eye. It was close to suppertime and the Mrs. would be expecting him.
“Well, it’s about time! Did you forget they’re expecting you down at the jail tonight? You’ll barely have time to eat and shower!”
He said, “Sorry, got talkin’ to a troubled man, gess’ I lost tracka’ time.”
He had a fair crowd at the jail for a mid week Bible study; things would be buzzing’ when he would return Sunday afternoon. The drunks were easy going after sleeping off the Saturday night hurrah's. After closing the meeting with prayer, he felt uneasy. Maybe he just needed to unwind.
“McStandish,” said the officer on duty, don’t you get tired of coming down here week after week and putting up with these winos?”
“Ya’ferget, I was one of em fer forty years. Ya’ got fresh coffee? ”
“Sure, pour yourself a cup.”
Suddenly the quiet room turned into a madhouse. The arresting officer led in a belligerent handcuffed man.
“I tell ya’ it was an accident! We were just pushin’ and shovein’; I didn’t mean to kill the man!”
McStandish nearly collapsed; the frantic plea of innocence came from the man he saw that evening. Their eyes met and he read S.O. S. in the first glance.
“I get to make a phone call, right? You kin keep it, wanna’ talk with the Bible thumper. He knows I’m no murderer!”
The cop set down his half-filled cup, approached the accused and then turned his attention back to the man at the coffee pot.
“You know this guy?”
“Yup, saw him this evenin’, be glad to talk to him.”
“Well alright… but someone will be guarding the office door.” He nodded in the direction of a vacant room and said, “Go on in, I’ll be there soon to begin questioning.”
The cuffed man trembled. “Man, you gotta’ help me!”
“Whata’ I say? He don’t owe me nothin.”
“Just tell him yer’ in a mess and ya’ need him to help ya.”
The hardened man, broken by circumstances, spoke to the Lord.
“Jesus, oh Jesus… please help me!”
In an instant, he received an answer to his person-to-person call for help.
“You’re a very lucky man! There were witnesses and they back up your story, say it was an accident, the guy just fell and hit his head on the bar rail. You’ll be outa’ here in no time!
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