It seemed like a good, Christian idea at the time.
My brother-in-law John’s job moved across country to our town and he decided to build a new house about a block away from our home.
Unfortunately, he needed a place to live while he oversaw the home construction.
John was a know-it-all go getter, a super Type A personality. He always talked fast, like he had too much coffee.
“We’re going to build our new house right down the street from you guys. I bought the big lot on the corner. Isn’t that cool?”
“That is cool.” I reacted, thoughtfully.
“We’ll be neighbors—and I’ve got everything worked out now, except one small thing.”
“I’m going to need a place to stay while my wife stays here with the kids in school and finishes her job at the hospital.”
Without thinking, I blurted, “You can live with us—we have plenty of room!”
“I was hopin’ you’d say that. I’ll be flyin’ out next weekend.
“See you then!”
The situation took my breath away. John always swept through like a cyclone, but this time he took me by surprise. When I sheepishly told Lisa what I promised her brother, all she said was “Well, he better not stay long. I’ll get the basement bedroom ready.”
I picked up John at the airport, and he talked non-stop from the time he got in my SUV until we arrived home. One thing I learned several years ago was to not ask any questions while John ‘had the floor’ because each answer usually would take about an hour.
Days went by, then weeks, then months, but John’s new house was only about half-finished.
During that time, John effectively took over our basement. He had his own high-speed internet line brought in, and he was a slob. Dirty dishes and soiled clothes were piled everywhere—and Lisa’s patience wore thin.
“John, can you start cleanin’ up this place a little? You’re such a—“
John constantly talked on his cell phone’s Bluetooth. “Did you say somethin’, Sis?”
“Oh, never mind!”
It was such a relief during those hours when he had to leave the house to check the progress of his new house.
“Why’s it takin’ so long, John?” I finally asked him one night.
“It’s my fault. I’m never satisfied. I keep changin’ the design.”
Finally, one day after school, Lisa pulled up in our driveway with the kids in the minivan. John was standing on our front lawn, talking animatedly to his Bluetooth, waving his hands with a cigarette flapping.
He looked like a cartoon character.
“I’m tellin’ you man, that is the wrong tile for that bathroom…”
Lisa tried to get his attention. “Excuse me, John.”
“It needs to be the next size smaller….THAT SIZE IS WAY TOO BIG!” He shouted.
Lisa tapped his arm, “John?”
“Well then, NOT MY PROBLEM. Rip it out and start over—“
“WHAT!?” He turned. “Wha—Oh it’s you.”
At that moment, John clutched his left arm with his hand, then grabbed his chest and collapsed.
“JOHN!” Lisa dialed 9-1-1.
I stayed all night at the hospital, and after awhile I was allowed in John’s room. He was asleep. The heart monitor beeped incessantly, and I realized every breath he took was a gift from God. I gently grabbed his hand, and felt his pulse.
With tears, I bowed my head, and prayed. “Father, thank You for my brother-in-law, John. Please heal him, Lord, and more importantly, save him.”
After Lisa dropped the kids off at school, she stopped by the hospital. When John heard her voice, he opened his eyes, turned his head and looked at her.
“John! You’re awake. You’re okay—“
“I…love you, Sis.” He muttered, and fell back to sleep.
Later that day, after I left to pick up the kids from school, John woke up again.
“I need to talk to you…”
“Remember how you always told me to slow down…and start goin’ to church?”
“Yes…” Lisa answered with hope, while tears flowed down her cheeks.
“Well, startin’ as soon as I break outta here—please take me to church.”
“Thank you Jesus.” Lisa whispered. Then she said, “By all means, John. Not a problem.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Ohhh, you mean the house? You can stay—for now.” They laughed together.
It was a good, Christian idea.
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