“I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to…” Ezek. 34:12 The Msg.
A stagnant mix of sweat, incense and cannabis hung in the air. Discarded cans and food wrappers surrounded stained mattresses, strewn haphazardly through the dimly lit room. Street noises, combined with moans, delirious laughter and alcoholic anger, creating a surreal medley.
The occupants scattered throughout the room resembled the garbage littering the floor. No longer useful and mostly ignored by society, they lived each day for a fix, the high that was needed to get them to the next.
In this place, where the spirit of addiction thrived, the Shepherd searched out one of His lost…
Words, written around dried ketchup on a napkin, lay on the ground before Jay. He was a songwriter desperate for the “big one” that would get him back on his feet.
He had managed to stay away from the hard drugs that claimed many prisoners but needed marijuana to numb the pain enough for inspiration to flow.
In search of better light, Jay sat beneath the broken window strumming his guitar, all that was left from his former life.
For days a vaguely familiar song had been weaving its way through his mind. Now, like a dual track, the music was competing with the melody of his new song, the dissonance rivaling the noise around him.
Frustrated, he decided to leave. The Fender in its case, he stepped over the seemingly lifeless body of a young boy and wove his way to the door.
Out on the street, the bright noon sun was blinding. Pulling scratched sunglasses over his eyes, Jay started walking. Without thinking, he began humming the song, then angrily kicked at a mounted garbage can.
The longer Jay walked the louder, more insistent the music got until it took on an entirely different dimension.
Looking up, Jay noticed the open door of a church directly to his left. Unbelievably, the song that had been rolling around in his head was being sung to piano accompaniment, just inside the building.
Tears began streaming down Jay’s face. Pain and heartache, silenced for years, surfaced through sobs and groans. The protective walls around his heart melted like ice on a sun-heated sidewalk.
As if on a mission, the words and melody raced through the broken places of Jay’s heart and mind, leaving traces of healing and restoration.
Intuitively, he knew the God he had met in Sunday school was now hunting him down, calling him back. His grandma’s words, long spoken and carried away by the winds of time, returned to him in their fullness.
“He completes you, Jay. God made you. He’ll chase you until you stop and give over. Let Him have His way, son.”
It didn’t matter that the street was bustling with Saturday shoppers, Jay moved to the steps of the church and knelt, surrendering his will to the only Father he ever knew.
He needed to see his grandma. A chance meeting with his uncle had given Jay the grim details. Alzheimer’s grip had almost finished its work. Even still, he had some things to say.
Sitting at her bedside, he cleared his throat.
“Grandma. It’s me, Jay.”
There was no response, just the effects of the oxygen, on the otherwise still form of a lady, who had once been so full of love and life.
“I’m sorry I hurt you. You need to know I finally did it. Just like you said all those years ago. I gave over and I’m gonna let God have His way from now on.”
Holding her hand, Jay leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her mottled cheek. To his surprise, she responded with a faint squeeze.
“I love you, Gram. Thanks for never giving up on me.”
Jay wiped the tears from his eyes and watched his grandmother’s peaceful breathing gradually slow and then stop completely. As a nurse came into the room, he stood to leave. Though he would miss her, Jay was certain of their reunion.
Just beyond Jay’s sight, Heaven was welcoming a steadfast saint. Her life’s anthem,
“The Old Rugged Cross”, could be heard in four-part harmony as she came face to face with the One who had made it all possible.
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