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Friday, August 10, 2012

EIGHTEEN WORDS


Homeless Man
courtesy photobucket.com

Living in the big city the traffic was horrendous so I found a small apartment near where I worked.  I walked to work because it saved money due to parking and all the other costs of owning an auto, and it was good exercise which I needed.  On my way to work I passed this very large church each day and wondered why it was there though I had to admit it was a beautiful edifice.

One day while on the way to work I was deep in thought about the coming day when I looked up just in time to prevent colliding with a man who was the most undesirable creature I had ever come into contact with. 

His clothes were old and tattered he was disheveled and smelled awful. It was a combination wine, vomit, sweat and bad breath. Though I quickly sidestepped him, for a second I looked directly into his eyes and what I saw was frightening.  His eyes showed torment like I had never known before.

I continued on my way to work but looked back to make sure he wasn't following me and saw him struggling to climb the stairs to enter the church.

A few weeks later I stopped in front of the church to admire the architecture when a man came down the stairs and said hello to which I said in return said, “How are you?”  He stopped for a moment and said to me, “Don't I know you?”  “I don't believe so,” I replied. He said well its good to meet you anyhow.

Then like a lighting bolt it struck me, this is the man I saw struggling up the stairs, the one who smelled so bad. As he turned to walk away I said, “Wait, maybe we did meet once upon a time.”  I embarrassedly related our previous meeting and asked what happened to change you so.  He said “It was eighteen words.” 

Then he told me a familiar story of a young man who grew up with great ambition but kept taking wrong turns. Though he would get good jobs both drugs and alcohol would cause him to lose them. Making a long story short, he said he finally hit bottom and there he stayed. Taking handouts, begging, anything to be able to buy some cheap wine and pass out for life had become unbearable.

While lying in an alley that he called home, he came to and looked for his bottle only to discover that someone had helped themselves and emptied his jug.

While he fought to regain some clarity the wind blew a scrap of paper down the alley and it stuck to him. It took awhile before he could focus enough to read what it said which was: "Whosoever that calls upon the name of Lord shall be saved". Just those eleven words.  He put the paper in his pocket and from time to time would reread it until it was no longer legible.

There was a gospel mission he attended to get some food and he heard about a man in the Bible who prayed and said, "GOD be merciful to me a sinner".

This didn't make much an impression on him at the time but on the day when I first saw him - - he was on his last legs and the words "Whosoever shall call upon the name of Lord shall be saved" kept filtering their way up through his drunken stupor as he managed to get to the church.

He didn't approach the altar but sat on the side in a pew. Those words "Whosoever shall call upon the name of Lord shall be saved," were repeated over and over in his mind, and then he prayed the prayer he heard at the mission "GOD be merciful to me a sinner."  Those seven words were sincere and in an instant his whole world changed.

He told me those eighteen words made all the difference, because that was all the gospel it took to change my life.

People ask; is that story true? My answer is always the same; "It could be!"


This post was shared at Michelle Derusha’s Graceful Summer 
This post is also Linked with Charlotte’s Spiritual Sundays




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