TITLE: Shipwreck 7-11-2016
By Roy Proctor
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
By Roy E. Proctor
He looked bedraggled like most homeless guys. Yet one could see a certain polish that seemed to place him a cut above most that entered the mission. His unshaven face and hair that shot off in all directions didn't speak accurately of the intelligence that his vocabulary indicated. When asked his name all he would offer was, “Jake.”
The only time that most of us saw Jake was during church services. Other than that, no one at the mission knew his whereabouts. When he attended, his body language suggested that he wasn't listening. But somehow I felt that my words spoke to a part of him that no human or even God had ever penetrated.
While Jake appeared to be a loner, we started to develop a friendship albeit one small step at a time. “This is a cruel world, isn't it?” he said, after a particular church service. I was shocked to hear him say anything of significance. Perhaps he was letting me into that private space that existed deep inside of his person.
“My mother said that several times when I was a child,” I answered. “She had a hard way to go in some ways. My dad was not a very supportive person.”
“Did she survive?”
“Yes, especially in her later years. And yours?”
Jake had reached his limits of openness because he turned away from me and headed for the exit.
“Jake,” I called out.
He turned around and I noticed that his face was drawn. A sense of sorrow seemed to engulf him.
“I didn't mean to probe, Jake. I just...”
“Oh, that's okay. I guess it's what you're supposed to do, you being a preacher and all. Aren't you supposed to come down hard on sinners?”
“Jake, as you go take this.” I handed him a small New Testament. “You could go to some private place and read it. You're free to accept or reject it and no one would ever know the difference. Oh, and you can bank on this. No preacher ever wrote it.”
I had discovered that most homeless people didn't want anyone to get too close to them. Maybe I moved too fast. Would I ever see Jake again?
But Jake showed up the next Sunday. I did notice a slight bulge in his back pocket. And it wasn't shaped like a snuff can like many. Jake was fairly congenial and more at ease than usual. As the service progressed I noticed that he actually joined in the singing, somewhat cautiously, however. When the service ended and everyone left, there sat Jake.
“How goes it?” I asked.
Jake reached into his back pocket and waved his testament. “This seems like some preposterous dream.” he said.
“Okay, but are there any particular words that caught your eye.”
“God is love,” he said, with a huff, “whatever that is.”
“And this charade about a Father,” Jake showed a new emotion that I had never seen in him. Tears filled his eyes, his lips grew thin and his jaw quivered. He threw the testament across the room and shouted in anger, “Father! Do tell!”
I walked across the room and for some reason picked up the testament and tossed it into a trash can.
Immediately, Jake ran and retrieved it. Hugging it to his breast he said, “Don't you dare take this from me.”
“I surely don't want to start a fight.” Jake and I stared at each other and a slight smile crossed his face. My spirit celebrated.
My heart was anxious to see Jake again the following Sunday but he didn't show up. After the service a deputy sheriffs showed up. “Chaplain, do you know a guy named Jake?” he asked.
“Why yes, but why are you asking?”
“Well, we found his lifeless body. It was later determined that he had a massive coronary. He had one of your testaments clutched in his hand. It was open to John Chapter three. After the words, 'You must be born again,' he had written with a pencil the word in caps, YES.”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.