One hundred sixty-two, one hundred sixty-three, one hundred sixty-four tiles lined the ceiling of the conference center’s third floor lobby. Spencer had counted them four times now, getting a different number each time. Tired of counting, he stood from the chair he had occupied for the last twenty minutes and began pacing the hard wood floor. As his strides increased, he retrieved a pocket watch from inside his coat’s lapel. It was now 5:57. “Less than three minutes,” he whispered.
Returning the watch to his pocket, Spencer walked toward the double doors at the entrance to the auditorium. He stopped three feet from the entryway and peered above the doorframe. The sign read ‘Room 2A’. Glancing through the glass doors, he could see the large crowd that patiently awaited his arrival. After wiping his sweaty palms on his slacks, he gingerly passed through the inviting doors.
Spencer nervously made his way across the illuminated stage. Standing behind a podium, he exhaled a deep breath before he addressed the observing audience.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming. My story begins thirteen years ago, at the age of 22.”
He was so nervous he went right into his story without introducing himself. The crowd, showing mixed expressions, began whispering amongst themselves as Spencer continued.
“My life was in ruins because of some horrible decisions I had made. At that time in my life, I found myself a resident of the Jefferson-Wallace State Penitentiary, a high security prison…”
Spencer continued with his speech. This marked the first time he had ever presented his testimony to a group of this magnitude. He was here because his best friend Clay asked him to be the guest speaker for tonight’s Christian Men’s Conference.
It didn’t take long before the crowd had silenced and Spencer had their undivided attention. It seemed they were hanging on his every word. By this time, Spencer’s hands were no longer shaking or sweating, his nerves had finally settled.
“I had been in Jefferson-Wallace for a little over two years when I was moved into a different cell. My new cellmate was an elderly man named Amos. It was also about this time in my life when I just didn’t see a reason for living anymore. One night after Amos fell asleep I removed the bed sheets from my mattress and tied one end around a pipe that spanned the ceiling. The other end I wrapped around my neck, I just wanted to end it all.”
A gasp filled the air as the audience clenched their seats tightly.
“Once I stepped off the back of the toilet, my body swung violently even though I tried to remain still. The kicking awoke Amos, who rushed from his bed and untied the sheet.”
Spencer paused to let the full effect of his words sink in, he then continued.
“We didn’t sleep for the remainder of that night. Amos told me all he knew about God and how Jesus Christ died so that I could live a meaningful life. That night, with Amos’s help, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior and my…”
At that instant, the ringing of his cell phone disrupted him. Spencer, apologizing for the interruption, pulled the phone from his pocket and was shocked to see that it was Clay calling.
“What do you want?” Spencer said in a quiet tone.
“Where are you? You’re almost twenty minutes late!” Clay responded.
“What? I’m in the middle of my speech now! What are you talking about?”
“Where are you?” Clay said again. “I’m starring at the empty stage!”
Confused, Spencer replied, “Room 2A on the third floor.”
Releasing a hearty laugh, Clay said, “Spencer! It’s not in Room 2A on the third floor, it’s in Room 3A on the second floor. You’re at the wrong conference, you bozo!”
With Spencer’s eyes wide open, his jaw dropped, and his face bright red, he ended the call. Not knowing what to do or say, he abruptly left the auditorium without saying another word. He had never before been so embarrassed!
From there, Spencer rode the lobby’s elevator down to the second floor to give his second speech of the night. The latter in the correct room, from which he received huge acclaim thereafter.
He later heard that four of those that attended his first speech actually made a commitment to Christ shortly after his untimely departure. Spencer found that sometimes good things can happen as a result of our embarrassments.
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