“Jake Swanson, I’m sentencing you to 150 hours of community service.” The judge’s voice echoed in his ears.
“I just drove on my permit…” Jake thought.
“I know you’re thinking this is a minor offense, but in life there are consequences to even the smallest choices. You have two days to report to your probation officer.”
Jake’s probation officer gave him a list of possible places to complete his hours.
“City clean-up crew….no. Animal shelter….maybe. Homeless shelter….no. Nursing home…definitely not!”
The officer scanned his computer. “It looks like the only opening is the nursing home. Report there tomorrow morning. They will work out a schedule for you.”
Jake covered his face and sighed. The last place he wanted to spend his summer was with a bunch of old people who were dying.
The next morning he was greeted by the nursing home staff. The head nurse informed him he would be helping Mr. Jonas. He would be taking him for walks and reading to him. This was definitely not Jake’s idea of a fun summer. All of his friends would be enjoying the beach and he would be reading to an old man.
Down the hallway, Jake peeked around the cracked door into a dark room and whispered, “Mr. Jonas?” The light slipped into the room and revealed the silhouette of a man sitting on the bed staring out the window.
Jake put his hand out. “I’m Jake. I’m going to be helping this summer.”
Mr. Jonas sat still, not making eye contact. “How old are you?”
“I’m 15.” Jake frowned and put his hand down.
“Doesn’t sound like a fun summer for a teenage boy?”
“I don’t really have a choice.”
“We all have choices, son. Bring me my cane. I’d like to take a walk.”
Mr. Jonas slipped off the bed and stood. He appeared to be a very fit man and definitely didn’t look 102. Jake reached for the cane and realized it was not a regular cane but a walking stick for the blind. It all started to make sense. That was the reason he didn’t shake his hand or look at him.
“Where to?” Jake asked as they walked out the door.
“The garden.” He smiled.
“How long have you been blind?”
“About twelve years. I’m just thankful God saw fit to let me see my sweet Grace until she passed away. I can still picture her emerald green eyes that sparkled and her smile that made my knees go weak.”
“You sure did love her. Do you have any other family?”
“Yes, a son. He’s in the Air Force stationed in Germany. I’m very proud of him.”
They walked around the garden area. Mr. Jonas liked to smell the sweet gardenias and feel the warm sunshine on his face. This became part of their daily routine. He shared many stories from being born in 1907 when Theodore Roosevelt was president to stamps costing a penny, war stories from World War II and how God let him live. Some days he would be too tired to walk so Jake would read his favorite book, the Bible.
One particular day, Jake was in a really bad mood and feeling unloved. Mr. Jonas didn’t want to walk, so Jake grabbed his Bible off the nightstand.
“Okay, what are reading today?” he gruffly asked.
“Let’s start with Romans 3:23.”
Jake found it and read. “I guess you’re going to lecture me too. I know, I’m no good. I hear it often enough.”
“None of us are, son. Let’s read Romans 6:23.”
Jake flipped over a couple of pages. “I’m going to die because I’m a sinner?”
“All of us should, but go to Romans 5:8.”
“Why would He die for us?”
“He loves us.”
“How much does it cost? I know there’s a catch.”
“It’s free. Read Romans 10:9.”
Jake looked up with tear filled eyes. “I just have to believe?”
“Will you pray with me?” Jake sat down beside him, as Mr. Jonas wrapped his strong arms around him and they prayed.
“Son, your whole life is ahead of you. I’m in the twilight years and won’t be around much longer. Take advantage of your new beginning. So, I guess you won’t be visiting anymore since your time is completed?”
“I’ll be here. I plan to spend time learning from you until you go home to be with Grace.”
“I believe I’m up for that walk now.”
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