May 21, 2017

No Ma’am, I Won’t Ever by Van James

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Reckless words pierce like a sword,

but the tongue of the wise brings healing”

Proverbs 12:18

I saw him in the church building for the first time last Wednesday. He was in his mid 70s with silver hair and a neat brown suit. Many times in the past I had invited him to come. Several friends had talked to him about the Lord and had tried to share the Good News with him. He was a well-respected, honest man with so many characteristics a Christian should have, but he had never put on Christ in baptism, at least as far as I know.

I had asked him a few years ago, “Have you ever been to a church service in your life?” We had just finished a pleasant day of visiting and talking. He hesitated, then with a bitter smile told me of a childhood experience some sixty years ago. He said he was one of many children in a large impoverished family. His parents had struggled to provide food, with little left for housing and clothing.

When he was about ten, some neighbors invited him to worship with them. The Bible class had been very exciting. He had never heard anyone read from the Bible before.

After class was over, the teacher took him aside and said, “Son, we want to look our best when we worship the Lord. Please don’t come again dressed as you are now.” He stood in his ragged, patched overalls, looked at his bare, dirty feet and said, “No ma’am. I won’t…ever!” And he never did.

There may have been other factors to have hardened him so, but this experience formed a significant part of the bitterness in his heart. I’m sure the Bible teacher meant well, but what if she had put her arms around that dirty, ragged little boy and said, “Son, I’m so glad you are here, and I hope you will come every chance you get to hear more about Jesus!”

I pray that I might ever be open to the tenderness of a child’s heart and that I might never fail to see beyond the appearance and behavior of a child to the eternal possibilities within.

Yes, I saw him in the church house for the first time last Wednesday. As I looked at that immaculately dressed old gentleman in his casket, I thought of the little boy of long ago. I could almost hear him saying, “No ma’am, I won’t… ever!” and I wept.

 

 

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