Fowling’s Diner was a throwback to the 1960’s roadside eateries, and on any given day the restaurant fed a diverse crowd of hungry freeway travelers. Truckers, bikers, small families, large families, businessmen, loners, and even the occasional movie star had all tried a Fowling’s Double Patty Burger or a Fowling’s Super-Egg Omelet. On this particular day, a man named Henry Hommell sat at a booth near the front window. He had his head hunched over a steaming cup of coffee. Henry believed it was the last cup of coffee he would ever drink.
Now, see, I didn’t know Henry had plans for ending his life when I saw him. I just saw a man that looked like he could use a kind word. After I finished my own cup of coffee, I made my way over to his booth and offered a greeting. “How’s it goin’? Got a few miles ahead of you?”
Henry didn’t even offer a glance in my direction. He looked to be in his mid-forties and was sporting a red flannel shirt and a short gray beard and mustache. I noticed his hands looked like he’d done his fair share of labor, and his face was more wrinkled than most men his age. I sat down across from him. “Life got you in the red?” I asked.
Henry lifted his head slightly and looked me in the eyes. “In the red? What does that mean?” he asked.
“Well, when a business is not doing well, they’re in the red. I’ve always believed that when life is getting us down, well, we’re in the red as well.”
“Yes, you could definitely say life has me in the red. What’s your name, sir?” Henry asked.
“Name’s Jasper, Jasper Fowling. And you?”
“My name is Henry, Henry Hommell,” he informed me. “You, ummm, you own this restaurant?”
I leaned in closer to Henry. “Yes, I do own this restaurant. Good Lord gave it to me ten years ago.”
“The Lord gave it to you? How’s that?” Henry looked very confused.
“I was having a difficult time in my life. I was laid off from the mill and found out I had Leukemia. Buried in red, I turned to the red letters in the Bible for a way to find my footing again.” I could tell Henry was starting to pay more attention to my words. His head was up higher now and his eyes more focused.
We talked for nearly two hours, Henry and me. I learned about him and he learned about me. We talked about Jesus. We talked about families. He told me about a horrible crash on the freeway and that he was partially to blame for someone’s death. And when he told me that he had been planning on taking his own life after he finished that cup of coffee, I couldn’t help but think about what would have happened if I had not approached Henry.
Red letter words came into my thoughts: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Those were the words Jesus spoke to Simon Peter after the miracle on Lake Gennesaret. Henry needed someone to intervene on his behalf, someone to catch him. He thought that I was the interventionist. With God’s wisdom leading my heart, I kindly introduced him to the real interventionist. Henry and I walked out of the diner that evening with a commitment to keep in touch with each other.
Fowling’s Diner wasn’t just a throwback to the 1960’s on this night; it had teleported two men back in time 2000 years, where they heard the words of The Redeemer. Note the first three letters of that word!
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