“Mom had told us all along we would have $60,000 to split between my brother and me. But, after Mom died things must have changed.” Rick Johnson said it flat with a shrug of the shoulders and no emotion either way.
“Dad, my step dad, always liked my brother Curt better.” His blue eyes drifted downward but only for a moment. “I always attend my high school reunions. We stay with my brother Curt.” He spoke the words with no animosity no hurt, but with a breath of excitement like a grandfather telling a story to a child.
I could be his son considering our difference in age. His seventy-five years only showed in his skin. Deep-blue-skies were his eyes, hair, thick and silver as a tinsel tree, and his teeth, his own teeth, were still a pearly white. His face wore a permanent smile like a Christmas morning child.
And then he continued, blue eyes shining. “Curt was in charge of settling the estate after Dad passed. I never brought it up, but wondered about the money. Finally, Curt spit it out. ‘You know, Dad left all of the $60,000 to me.’” He shifted his feet transferring his weight from one foot to the other, he looked toward heaven, and his smile broadened. Then he looked at me straight and clear. “God has always taken such good care of me.” Blue skies spilling clean over. “When we drove to the reunion I told my wife, it hurt. Not because I wanted the money. But, being loved less, hurt.” I nodded in understanding and then shook my head as if to say that’s just not right. But he didn’t tarry…
He planted both feet solid and spread his arms with palms open wide toward heaven, “But God. He takes care of me. He knows what I need.” Then his blue skies opened wide and he couldn’t talk for a moment because that big smile was in the way. “When we got to the reunion, someone I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years poked me in the chest and said, ‘Rick Johnson, you saved my marriage. The last time we were here my husband Bob got so drunk I was going to divorce him. But you took him aside and got in his face. You told him he better stop that drinkin’ and start followin’ Jesus or he was gonna lose his wife and maybe his life. Well, that talkin’ to turned him around and although it was an uphill climb, we’ve been on a honey moon walkin’ with Jesus ever since. Thank you.’”
He simply took an exited breath and kept going his face all alight “Before too long Tommy Barns walked up, I remembered him, but he didn’t think I did. Tommy’s dad had died and they were dirt poor. I use to sneak pencils and erasers on his desk, ‘cuz I knew he didn’t have any. The other kids, they were mean. They’d tease him because his clothes were ragged and most of the time dirty. I just tried to be his friend, although he wouldn’t talk much. Well…” He laughed right out loud as he put both hands over his ears and continued. “He sure made up for that lack of words. He about talked my ear off that night. Besides telling me about his wife, his kids, grandkids and career as a preacher, he told me about the first time he saw me sneak the pencil and eraser on his desk. ‘Ricky, I was gonna kill myself that day. Your simple act of kindness saved my life.’ “
Now, he crossed his arms and hung his head. I’m sure he was trying to keep the tears at bay. For a long moment we just stood froze in time. The room we were in was noisy and crowded, over a hundred people enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, but to me and to him it was silent and still.
He finally spoke shaking his head in amazement. “Billy Cards, oh my Lord, he could curse a blue streak and had a temper that wouldn’t quit. Well, I hadn’t seen him since he got mad and walked off the job. We were working construction. One day he blew a gasket, I don’t even know why. But he didn’t have to have a reason; he just blew and took a swing at the crew leader. And that was it, he was gone. Well, anyway the reunion was pretty much wrapped up and we were walking out the door when I heard him shout. I heard Billy shout everyday on the job for about ten years. I’ll never forget that voice. I turned and there he stood. All smiles. ‘Hey Rick, hey man how’s it goin’? Bet you don’t remember me, I knew you’d be here.’ He ran up and gave me a hug. A hug from Billy Cards, who would of thought, a slug maybe, but a hug – no way. He use to get so mad at me. I must have told him at least a thousand times Jesus could help him tame that tongue and temper. He’d just get mad. But, there stood Billy, only strangely enough, he looked younger than the last time I saw him, some twenty years prior. Oh, I suppose there were more wrinkles, but his countenance was younger. After his hug Billy told me, ‘man, you led me to Jesus.’ Well, I didn’t know it, but he told me about the day he got fired; how he went out and got drunk, which was his customary style. But all that night he kept hearing my voice saying, “Jesus loves you” and “You need Jesus.” The next morning before his feet hit the floor he asked Jesus to help him and he said ‘I’ve never been the same. Thank you.’”
Now, a down pour from those blue skies, with a smile as bright as heaven, “God is so good, and His timing so perfect, He loved me a little more right then, just because He knew I needed it.”
Without blinking, tears streaming, this man of God, royal with years of wisdom from serving The King said bold and unwavering, “And that treasure, real-eternal-treasure is worth more, much more than anything money can buy.”
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