Bottom of the List
I knock at the paint-chipped door.
"Who's there?" The voice is gruff and belligerent.
"Randy, with MUMs Transportation"
"What do you want?"
"I'm here to take you to Centerstone." (Mental Health Clinic). "Donna said you needed to
come in for a shot."
"Oh." The door cracks open. His head is down, eyes to the floor.
Mid-twenties. Tall. Handsome. Worn. Listless. No smile. No expression.
"I'll get my cap." he says to the floor. The door closes.
I go back to the van to wait for him.
IHe stumbles a bit coming down the steps. He's wearing an army field jacket against the cold. It's almost noon. Looks like he just woke up. Stepping off the stair onto the driveway, he weaves a bit, corrects himself. Head remains down as he slowly negotiates his way to the van.
Inside, as he buckles up, he looks up at me for the first time "You smoke?" His eyes are dull except for a tiny spark of smoldering anger.
"No", I reply.
"Mind if I do?"
"I rather you didn't." The air grows thick with another smoke - his resentment.
I wait a few moments for it to clear a bit, then try to start a conversation, "Have you lived here long?."
"No." (It's the kind of "No" behind which you hear, "OK, just this once, I'm going to do you a favor and answer your question.")
"Are you from around here?"
"No" (Are you still here, asking questions?)
Now, I'm kickin' into the silent prayer mode, "Oh, Lord, I'm going to need some wisdom here." Wait a while longer. Try again.
"Well, it's actually turned into a beautiful day."
"Your case-worker said that you were coming in to get a shot. Are you feeling alright?"
The length (and heat) of his response surprises me, "Oh, I'm doing JUST GREAT." Sarcasm drips from every word, "I just LOVE being broke and over-medicated. You ought to try it some time."
Well, at least it IS a response, and a bad response is better than no response at all. Besides, I think he just opened a door that I can step through.
"Actually I have tried it," I said, "Though it was years ago. And, you're right - it's no fun, at all. It's like being trapped and you can't find any way out."
Sarcasm, again, "Well, you just know ALL ABOUT ME don't you?"
This is going nowhere, which is exactly where he wants it to go. I decide to take the direct approach.
Breathing another quick prayer, (he's about 4 inches taller than me, and outweighs me by more than a few pounds) I wade in, . . . . .
"Well no, I don't know EVERYTHING about you, but I do know a FEW THINGS about you. For Instance, I know that you are rude. I know that you are very sarcastic. I know that you are so busy thinking about yourself that you can't carry on a simple conversation with someone. I know that you are angry and frustrated with life. And, I know that you're not going to get anywhere fast until you get over it. I know that you're afraid to let anybody in, which usually means that you were very deeply hurt somewhere along the line. I know that you haven't forgiven whoever or whatever hurt you, and it's got you all bound up."
Instead of tearing me limb from limb (thank you, Lord) his face actually softens. He relaxes, and for the rest of our ride together, he gives me the respect of his attention.
God's Presence fills the van and He helps me to tell this young man how, years ago, Jesus healed all my hurts . . . how Jesus taught me that I must love and forgive . . . how Jesus accepted my repentance over all the sins that I had committed. I tell him how, up until that time, I had put Jesus at the bottom of my list and how the Lord waited there patiently until I finally reached the bottom and called out to Him for help. I tell him how God has put my life back together.
Later that day, on his return ride home, he makes a real effort to be friendly. We actually have some pleasant conversation. He thanks me for the ride. I tell him that I will be praying for him.
Though I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have witnessed to him, still my heart is heavy remembering the oppressiveness that hangs all around this young man. More than likely, he will spend his Christmas alone in that darkened old run-down shack .
If he will only ask, Christ will come into that old house and gloriously fill it with his Presence. What a difference that would make!
This Christmas, will you remember to pray for this young man?
Maybe he's close to the bottom of HIS list!
(written Dec. 2005)
Though this "Day of Christmas" was actually written a number of years ago, your prayers for this young man (and for those like him) are just as current as if that ride had happened yesterday. Over time, we have lost track of this young man. We don't know where he is, but we still know that he needs more of Jesus! Thank you for your prayers and thank you for sharing in our "12 Days of Christmas"!!