Written by: Barbara Ann Hall
Singing church hymns is one of my favorite pastimes. So often I go
about my day singing them aloud, often unconsciously. The only reason I know this is because numerous people, often strangers,
have brought it to my attention by saying things like, “Oh, I just love Amazing Grace!” or “It’s nice
to hear that someone has a song in their heart today!” Of course, I’d immediately become a bit self-conscious,
as I am no Florence Nightingale. But, it had yet to silence me.
One day, while I was grocery shopping, a man walked
up to me and said, “What I find amazing is that so many people are stupid enough to believe that they will sing praises
to some mysterious god throughout some fantasy eternity! So why don’t you just stifle it lady!” Needless to say
I was instantly silenced, at least for the moment. But God granted me wisdom to respond tactfully to the overgrown bully that
stood before me.
“You’re right, that would be amazing. But, I’m not singing about some mysterious
god, I am singing about The Almighty God. And I have never heard the story of the fantasy eternity you speak of, but I do
believe in the eternity of God’s promise.”
Mr. Bully, as I saw him, just stood there looking at me,
in what I imagined as utter darkness, until he turned and marched off in a huff. I was thankful to God that this time, he
was the one silenced. And I continued my shopping, very aware of the lyrics I sang. “I shall not be moved.”
Now, I seldom run into someone I know, but the very next morning as I was studying the breakfast menu at George’s
Diner, who should be seated at the table next to me, but Mr. Bully himself! He was well dressed, probably on his way to work
I thought, although he looked completely miserable. I wasn’t sure if I should try to slip out unnoticed or just order
my breakfast as if I hadn’t noticed him. I was quick to pray, “Father, please help me know how to handle this
situation the best way possible. Should I slip out? Should I just ignore him? What would you have me do?”
I sat waiting for an answer, I glanced over at Mr. Bully and found him staring at me! I looked away for a moment and screamed
inside, “Father! Help me!” Then I looked back, hoping that he had turned away and didn’t recognize me, but
he was still staring and didn’t budge when I looked uncomfortable. So, I managed to smile at him and say good morning.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” he asked. And much to my surprise, I said, “Amazingly enough, yes.”
“Right! I remember you!” He said sarcastically, pointing his finger at me, before dramatically shrugging his shoulders.
“What? You’re following me now? Who are you, some kind of a religious weirdo who’s out to save the world
one evolutionary at a time?” Saying the first thing that came to my mind, I responded. “No! I am not following
you. In fact, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t real happy to even see you here this morning. And furthermore, if I was
capable of saving the world, it would be by one open mind at a time and nothing more.”
that suppose to mean? Huh? That us non-believers don’t have open minds?” He asked accusingly. For heaven’s
sake, I thought to myself, what did I do to deserve this one? “Father” I prayed silently before answering him,
“Please don’t tell me that Mr. Bully here is my new mission!” When conviction instantly filled my heart
about telling him that I wasn’t real happy to see him there that morning, I knew it was true, Mr. Bully was indeed my
new mission! “Okay Father. Your will, not mine be done. But please, don’t leave me alone here. I have a hunch
I’m going to need a lot of help!”
Looking up at Mr. Bully, I replied to his confrontation. “I
didn’t say that, but it is a good question. Do you have an open mind?” I asked him. “I’m sitting here
talking to you aren’t I? In my opinion, that alone takes an open mind!” He responded with a chuckle as if pleased
with himself. “Great!” I exclaimed. “Then what do you say about joining me for breakfast over here?”
And much to my surprise he accepted with no hesitation.
“What do you say, we start over?” I offered,
introducing myself as Barbara. And Mr. Bully, seemingly amused with the idea, reached for my hand as he introduced himself
as Bob. He even sweetened the pot by telling me, ever so charming, that he was very pleased to meet me.
then. That was nice.” I said smiling at him. “Are you ready to order?” Before opening his menu he asked
with a hint of arrogance, “You paying?” I told him it would be my honor being that I did invite him to join me.
He seemed quite pleased with that.
Gentlemen like, or so I thought, Bob graciously let me order first. I ordered
two eggs, hash browns, sausage, toast and coffee and Bob ordered the same, but added to his a third egg, side
of bacon, extra hash browns, an order of pancakes and a glass or orange juice. Then he glanced at me as if testing my faith.
So just to show him I wasn’t moved, I added to my order the same. I noticed Bob smirk at my acceptance.
you work around here?” He asked. “No. Actually I’m just passing through.” I told him. “On your
way to somewhere, or on your way home?” I wasn’t sure if he was just conversing or if he was prying. But, I told
him that I was on my way to nowhere specific. His forehead tightened, as if trying to compute what that meant. “I’ll
explain a little later.” I told him. “Are you on your way to work?” I asked Bob hoping he would tell me
a little about himself. “No. I’m unemployed. But I don’t like everyone knowing about it. So I walk the walk
and talk the talk, if you know what I mean.” He said that waving his hand down the length of his suit as if modeling
a new fashion. “Ah, I see.” I whispered. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
When our breakfast
came, Bob started eating like Hungry Man Jack! Somehow, it just wasn’t very flattering to the expensive suit he wore,
especially since his sole purpose in wearing it was to make a good visual impression. “So, what are you a roaming missionary
or something?” He asked me with his mouth stuffed full. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a little ribbing,
so I responded shrugging my shoulders a bit. “What? Do you think that every believer who travels nowhere specific is
a roaming missionary or something?” He thought for a moment, before asking. “Aren’t they?”
“Actually, you’re right, I am.” I told him. “You are what?” He asked with a weird look
in his eye. “A missionary, like you said.” “Ah, come on! You’re kidding me!” he said laughing.
“Okay then, I’m kidding. How’s your breakfast?” He didn’t answer. “You’re not really
a missionary are you?” Again he looked a bit tense, so I thought it was time to explain. “Not like you might think,
but yes, in a way I am.” He asked me to explain what, in a way, meant as he continued to stuff his mouth.
travel from place to place as God leads me, to help people He puts in my path.” “What do you mean help them?”
Surprisingly enough, Bob seemed interested. “Well, sometimes He may put someone in my path that needs help to overcome
an obstacle in their life. Or, perhaps someone who needs help finding their’ way back to God. I’ve even been in
situations where people He has put in my path have ended up helping me in some way. Actually, in one way or another, I am
enlightened through every experience.”
He asked me to tell him about one of my experiences. So, I told him
about Dennis, the hitchhiker. How God lead me to bring him home and how He blessed him with a new chance at life. “Coincidence
is a funny thing sometimes.” Bob said. Then he asked me what enlightenment I thought I got from the experience. I told
him that I was enlightened with just how clever God really was. To somehow lead me many miles south to find Dennis, then turn
me around and lead me far north to bring him home. And not only home, but to the exact spot that He knew would reach Dennis
deep within his heart. I told Bob that I was also enlightened by Dennis himself. How he spent his whole life doing what he
felt was right, even when he himself was burdened with sorrow and worldly afflictions.
people are just pushovers I guess.” Bob said seemingly unmoved. Although, I could tell he was struggling to make sense
of what I had shared. Maybe something inside him reasoned it could have been something other than coincidence. “If there
is a God, why do you assume he chose you to work for Him? Are you angelic or something?” I assured Bob that I was only
human and shared that I had spent many hours wondering about that very same thing. “I came to the conclusion that God
chose me because I’m willing to obey Him. Many people may know and possibly even believe that they love God, but few
are really willing to deny themselves and do His will. For me it’s easy, because He is my joy. If I didn’t completely
become His hands, there would be no success for my efforts, because I myself can do nothing.”
Then I asked
Bob, as he gobbled up the remainder of my untouched breakfast, “Why don’t you believe in God?” That question
seemed to intrigue him, as he put his fork down for the first time. “I never really thought about it, but maybe because
I can’t see him. Not just physically, but in anything. Where’s world peace? Where’s any peace for that matter?
Why are there starving people? And what’s this I hear about love your neighbor like yourself? Yeah right! People are
rude, obnoxious and down right ugly! And that’s just one side of the coin. On the flip side, we can open up another
whole can of worms that just don’t jive. Like, why do people have tonsils, and why the heck does anyone have freckles?
They’re useless, right? And what about the evidence found proving the pre existence of cavemen and dinosaurs? How do
you explain that one? Perhaps they were Adam and Eve’s great, great grandparents and their family pets, huh? Just think
if man had evolved from dinosaurs rather than monkeys, we’d all be breathing fire!” He paused for a moment, seemingly
tickled by his humor, before he continued. “And what about things like cancer and aids? I thought God was the redeemer,
the healer? I thought Jesus came to save the world and by His stripes we were already healed. And what about that in it’s
self, huh? Do you ever wonder why God sent Jesus to do his dirty work? Which, I can’t understand the need for in the
first place. After all, God is God, right? And think about this, before Jesus, people sacrificed animals for God. The sacrifice
was offered up to God, like a gift. So why would He require a human sacrifice unto himself? And not just any human, but his
own son! It’s like selling your child to the wolves to buy yourself a gift at Christmas time. I don’t know about
you Ms. Angelica, but none of it makes too much sense to me!”
When Bob was done spilling his Godly afflictions
out on the table, I couldn’t help but think that I believed he had thought about this before, and plenty, despite the
fact that he said he hadn’t.
I excused myself for a moment, telling Bob I had to use the ladies room, which
I did, but for no other reason than to gain a few necessary moments for some much needed prayer. “Oh Father,”
I prayed with a heavy heart. “How am I to answer such questions? I understand and accept that there are things we will
not yet understand, but that we should never doubt you. Although you know as well as I do, that just sounds like an excuse
to someone like Bob… an easy way out of answering questions that have no substantially satisfying answers to prove
beyond a shadow of a doubt that you exist. Please Father, grant me some wisdom to give a sufficient explanation that Bob can
accept, to all he’s laid before us. In Jesus’ name I pray.” After praying I took a few deep breaths before
By the time I got back to the table, the waitress had already cleared the table from our breakfast
dishes and Bob now had in front of him a huge piece of cherry pie with whipped cream and a full cup of hot coffee! “Hey,
want a piece of pie? After all, you’re paying for it, right?” I forced a smile, before calling the waitress over
to bring me the same. Bob just looked at me, as if wondering why he couldn’t get me to lose my ground.
do you want answers to your questions Bob?” I asked, almost hoping he would say no. But, I knew God better than that.
“Sure, humor me why don’t you.” With another quick prayer and a deep breath, I prepared myself to run with
whatever God gave me.
“I have never seen God either, but I’m sure He exists because I can feel Him.
Sort of like the wind, I can’t see it, but when I feel it I know it’s real. Even at times when I can’t feel
it, because maybe I’m inside, I still know it’s real because I’ve felt it before. Looking out a window,
I may question if it is windy, because I can’t see the trees blowing, but by reason, I still know that wind exists.”
I felt like I was babbling and not making much sense, but surprisingly enough, Bob looked as though he was following
me, so I continued. “God is our peace and without Him, there is none, either individually and/or collectively. As long
as ungodly people live in the world, the world will never exist in complete peace. And, as far as world hunger… have
you ever heard the expression man cannot serve both God and mammon for he will love the one and hate the other? Well, believe
it or not there are many people in our world today that love wealth much more than God. The extent of their works depends
on the extent of the money they will be profited. There is more than enough food here in our country alone that could easily
feed the world, but because of greed, people will waste in abundance that which they cannot sell. It’s not that God
hasn’t provided; it’s more that people choose not to honor Him. But Bob, let me enlighten you that although we
as individuals may not be able to save the entire world, we can make a difference by doing all we can, by personally choosing
to honor God’s will. Perhaps you may know of someone who could have really used and would have truly appreciated all
the excess food we ate here this morning?” He looked a bit embarrassed, as if considering what I had said.
“Now, that idea could most certainly connect with God’s request for us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Which,
by the way, neighbor doesn’t refer to just the people who live next door to us, but all the people we come in contact
with. How many people do you know that look beyond themselves to recognize and then choose to meet the needs of others? Think
about it Bob. We can’t account for what others do, but we have full control over what we choose to do. And you’re
right; many people are rude, obnoxious and very ugly. But perhaps that’s because they themselves have become prisoners
to this world. So many people don’t know how to love because they’re dead inside, most likely because of lack
of love in their own lives in one way or another. But some because they started to doubt God and to question Him, rather than
trust and obey Him. Don’t you see? Many times, people themselves create the obstacles in their own lives, not God.”
Bob remained attentive, which was encouraging for me to continue.
“God created Adam in His own image,
as Jesus would later be born in the expressed image of God. Then He created Eve. In His own image He created them, both men
and women. Of course, God had to form women physically different from men for reproduction and child bearing purposes, but
mankind was created in the image of God. Talking about Adam and Eve will lead me right along to their great, great grandparents
and family pets!” Bob chuckled a little and I couldn’t help but join him. “The Bible starts where it starts…”
I continued, “at the beginning of what I call, our time. That does not mean that there was no life on earth before that
time. Which, we know there was, not only by scientific evidence of cavemen and dinosaurs, but because God told Adam and Eve
to replenish the earth. That meant to fill it again, which logically proves to me that it was full before them.”
Bob seemed to be intrigued with what he was hearing because he looked like a little boy listening to the story of
The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. As if expecting Santa himself to drop through the chimney at any moment, even
though he questioned his existence!
“I don’t know why people suffer with horrible sicknesses in our
world today, but I do believe that if we don’t doubt that God has already healed us, than by faith we have already been
healed. But, we must trust in His Word, wavering nothing. And I believe that in order to trust in Him, we must first understand
who He is and what He has done for us. God did not send anyone to do His dirty work for Him, as you call it. He did it all
himself. For to those who will receive it, Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. Emmanuel, God with us. He himself became the
human sacrifice needed to overthrow Satan and redeem mankind. He didn’t shed His blood for himself, but instead for
us. And I guess we will have to wait until the appointed time to fully understand why the blood sacrifice of Jesus was required.
And last, but not least, perhaps people have tonsils and freckles, so they can learn to just accept what God has given them,
even when it doesn’t seem like there is any logical purpose for it. Such things shouldn’t make us doubt
God’s existence, but instead be further proof that many times He works in mysterious and unknown ways. For we must remember
that God’s ways are not our ways. We could never, in all our imagination, comprehend all His ways in our humanness.”
That was the final thought I shared with Bob. Now, I’m not sure that Bob walked away an instant believer,
but then again, I’m not real sure that he walked away completely full either. And I know from experience that God most
certainly does work in mysterious ways. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Bob had paid for our breakfast when I was
in the ladies room! Even my piece of cherry pie, which proves to me he catches on quickly!
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