Stories – 23th Installment

For the last 20 years I have presented the Gospel to each new youth at the highly secure prison for the kids ages 13 to 19 at Gainesville, Texas.  It is the first time that most any of them have stopped “running on the streets” and had the time to think about their life.  Most every one made a decision to make God part of their life.  After our hour+ together I would write each one a letter.  As a result I corresponded more with many of them.  And in each letter I would enclose a group of short stories or poems.  They really liked them, especially those with an emotional message.  You probably would not believe how many locked-up prison boys have loved theses little stories, and read them over and over.

In my soon to be published book I enclosed a long list of those short stories in the Appendix.  Since the prison boys liked them so much, I thought you may like to see some of them.  So, here is a 23rd group of them for you.  And you are welcome to share them with others.

Ron

The Dive

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver.

The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.

The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall.

The shadow of his body was in the shape of a cross.

Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally asked God to come into his life.

As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on.

The pool had been drained for repairs.

My friends tell me that this really happened!

The Flat

The tire was flat.

Church was just letting out as I stood in the street and looked at my mother’s tire; it was flat.  It was over 90 degrees as the sun was beaming down, and she didn‘t have a spare.

A small cigarette lighter powered air pump labored away trying to raise the flattened tire.  I told my mother to take my Jeep and go home, and I would take care of the tire.

I listened as air hissed out as fast as the pump put it in.  I found the hole and backed the car up so the hole was on the bottom.  The weight of the car stopped the leak and allowed the tire to fill.  With the tire full but leaking, I pulled off.

I didn’t know of any gas stations with mechanics in the neighborhood, but I figured I could drive until I found one.  I stayed off the expressway in case the tire went flat.

After ten minutes of driving, I found nothing open on a Sunday afternoon.  I pulled into a gas station to pump up the nearly flat tire again.

As the pump was pumping, there was one man pumping gas.  “Do you know where I can get a tire plugged around here?” I asked.  “There’s a place right there,” he said pointing.

“Right where?” I asked, wondering where the place could be since he was pointing to the street and direction that I had just driven from.

“It’s next to the liquor store, it’s on the right but you have to look hard to see it.”

“Are they open now on Sunday?” I asked.  “Yes, they’re open,” he replied.

I thanked him and set out to find the repair shop.  I was somewhat skeptical that I could have passed a tire repair shop while desperately looking for a tire repair shop.

I passed the liquor store and there on the right, down a little gravel road was a tire repair shop.  Men covered in black grease were hard at work.  They were a welcome sight as the air continually hissed from the tire.

In ten minutes, I was on my way.

It reminded me so much of life.  Why?

We are often deflated, the essence of life slowly leaking out and each time we pump it up, it isn’t long before we’re flat again.

We are straining, crying, praying, hoping, pleading for the answer and often we pass right by the answer.  Life is slowly leaking out towards the flatline and we pass right by because we don’t see the road, the place or the men on the right.

I could not find it on my own; I had to seek the answer from someone who knew, from someone familiar with the territory.  When I did hear the answer, I was doubtful that I could have missed it because it was so close.  I measured it; it was 750 feet from where I asked the question, but I couldn’t see from where I was standing.  Someone had to point the way.  Jesus can be like that for each of us.  As we search His Word, I predict that the way will become clear to you.

Your answer also, is closer than you think.  It’s on the right side.  Some of you will have to bypass the liquor store to get to it.  When you get there they will be waiting to help you.  They will be waiting to help you stop the leak.  They will be waiting to fill you with breath, but you will have to really listen and be ready to take action.

And they will be open on Sunday.

The Visitor

Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter.  She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

            Dear Ruth, I’m going to be in your neighborhood Saturday

            afternoon and I’d like to stop by for a visit.

            Love Always, 

           Jesus

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would the Lord want to visit me?  I’m nobody special.  I don’t have anything to offer.” With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets.  “Oh my goodness, I really don’t have anything to offer.  I’ll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner.”

She reached for her purse and counted out its contents.  Five dollars and forty cents.  “Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least.”  She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.  A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk…leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday.  Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

“Hey lady, can you help us, lady?” 

Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn’t even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway.  A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than  rags “Look lady, I ain’t got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it’s getting cold and we’re getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we’d really appreciate it.”  Ruth looked at them both.  They were dirty, they smelled bad and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.

“Sir, I’d like to help you, but I’m a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I’m having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him.”  “Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand.  Thanks anyway.”

The man put his arm around the woman’s shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley.

As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

“Sir, wait!”

The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. 

“Look, why don’t you take this food.  I’ll figure out something else to serve my guest.”

She handed the man her grocery bag.

“Thank you lady. Thank you very much!”

“Yes, thank you!” 

It was the man’s wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.

“You know, I’ve got another coat at home. Here, why don’t you take this one.”

Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over  the woman’s shoulders.  Then smiling, she turned

and walked back to the street…without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.

“Thank you lady!  Thank you very much!”

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too.  The Lord was coming to visit and she didn’t have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key.  But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.

“That’s odd.  The mailman doesn’t usually come twice in one day.”

She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

            Dear Ruth, It was so good to see you again.  Thank you for the lovely

            meal.  And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.

           Love Always,

Jesus

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

The “W” in Christmas

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year.  It was an exciting season for a six year old.

For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.  Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment – songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”.

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

“C H R I S T W A S L O V E”

And, I believe, He still is.

If you would like to watch a wonderful, life changing movie, get yourself all prepared with the time to watch a full length movie, and then go to this site and be ready for a life changing experience. .…………….. https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/english.html

如果您想观看一部精彩的、改变生活的电影,请准备好观看一部完整电影的时间,然后访问这个网站,为改变生活的体验做好准备………..…………https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/chinese-mandarin.html

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