walking along I-44 ...his face weathered by wind and time...Harold turns and holds up his thumb..his faith low, his pessimism high... he see's the looks and the scowls..."you wouldn't look at me that way IF you would what I had done for you" he thinks to himself
car after car passing by...Harold keeps walking ahead... but his thoughts bound to the past...
constant reminder's of his years of surviving through enemy jungles and hot humid nights spent watching and wondering would he ever make it home alive...had taken their toll and have left Harold hardened, scarred and bitter
Failed marriage(s)...abandoned kids, fired or laid off... NO RESPECT...they wouldn't have treated him that way ..IF THEY KNEW WHAT HE HAD DONE FOR THEM
finally making it to an old truckstop along the interstate...Harold walks in...long grayed hair..ratted..his hands filthy ...his clothes tattered, he senses the stares... "BUM" "Loser" "dead beat" ...the names he's sure they are all calling him
he sits down at a booth ...lights up a cigarette and sighs... "you all wouldn't be staring at me like that IF you knew what I'd done for you"
"sir, my names Jack... what can I get for you?" a man asks
"how bout a million dollars and a cup of coffee" ..."well if I had a million dollars I wouldn't be working here..but I'll definitely get you the coffee" Jack smiles
Harold, taken aback by the man's pleasant tone and warm nature..finds it in him to smile as well, then nervously and skeptically looks around assuming the scorn of others.
Ringing his hands through his hair..then rubbing his eyes...oblivious to Jack walking up his coffee... ."here's that coffee...and if you don't mind friend..I'd like to buy ya dinner" "NAH...that's not necessary" Harold's pride rising up... "well listen, I don't have a million dollars, but this restaurant's mine ..and I reserve the right to "treat" who ever I want..and as long as your a first time guest in my restaurant...you get to eat free"
Harold looking around sheepishly ...as if this must be some sort of joke...but then realizing the only eyes on him, are Jack's ..and then with a suttle nod...Harold agrees... "that's mighty kind of you an since you say it's for first time guest..well alright, so what's good..I mean what do you recommend?" "tell ya what...I'll bring you a menu...and whatever looks good to you..I'll make sure it's cooked just the way you like it" Harold exhales..."whoa, this is different?" he thinks to himself... having never felt welcome anywhere..he now sits at the table of a genuine restaurant owner..almost feeling like royalty "ahhhh who am I kidding..this is just someone who thinks I'm a charity case" his pessimistic side raring it's ugly head..."it's the least the guy should do..especially if he knew all I had done for him"
Jack walking back... .could see the hard countenance on Harold's face and had to choke back a tear..."Lord, I know you brought this one in...please move through me for your Glory in Jesus Name" he prays
"well here ya go..take a look at what suits your fancy and I'll be glad to get it for ya" "and say I didn't catch your name earlier?" "uh oh ..um thanks and Harold..or Sgt Harold Anderson if you will" ... "you don't say?" ...well Sgt Anderson...it's my honor to have you here...PLEASE order whatever you want
It had been a long time since Harold could order up like this, but feeling ashamed and unworthy ...he wrestled to ask for all that his stomach begged "I'll have your "special"... ...on the sign it said ... "two eggs, bacon and toast $4.99" and off Jack went but minutes later...he and two ladies came rolling a tray...on the tray was the two eggs, bacon...BUT there was pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oranges, grapes and much more... "what in the world? ...what is all this????" Harold asks
"It's our Champions Breakfast" "only rolled out to our very special guest" ... Harold's eyes surveyed it all and part of him wanted to rage...to say..."I'M NO CHARITY CASE!!!!!!!"...but there was something deep down inside to wanted to know "why?" "why me?" ..."why now?" ...
and besides...HAROLD WAS STARVING... and no sooner than had the food been set in front of him...than it seemed it was gone... boy did it feel good to feel full
as Harold was finishing off his last bite ...a young lady walked up to start cleaning up..."May I?" "sure thing...all done" "what did you think?" "it was the best meal I've had in a long time".."well great, Jack will sure be glad to hear you say that" "Jack sure seems like a nice guy?" "Yah, he is and I gotta tell you ..I'd never step into a church, but thankfully ..the Lord knew that ..and he put Jack in my path" the young lady continued with her story ... "meth, broke, single mother and hopeless" "but one night I stumbled into this place and boom...JESUS" "He's all about JESUS" "and he's for real" "Jack?" "no, the JESUS that Jack preaches..."HE'S FOR REAL" "And if YOU KNEW WHAT HE HAD DONE FOR YOU" "you'd want to know Him too" then just as fast as the young helper had made her way to clean up ..she was gone
Harold sat in his booth FULL from his meal, but suddenly feeling oh so empty ... but "why ME?" ..."why now?"
then coming from the back... was JACK... walking with a big ole grin on his face ...his smile almost taking Harold aback... "I hear you liked the food?" "yeah...it was delicious" "I really appreciate it" expecting that it was now sermon time... Harold quickly puts up a wall
Jack looking at Harold ask "may I?" with Harold nodding his approval... Jack takes a seat and sighs..."thanks, it's nice to take a break ya know?" Jack sat there and took a great interest in hearing Harold's story... "where he was from, where he had been and where he was headed" "not real sure" Harold had answered... "any place I'm welcome I reckon"
Jack feeling a lump in his throat, swallowing back the tears..offers... ."tell ya what Harold, I've got an old farm house ..it's was my parent's...it's got plenty of room and your welcome to stay there as long as you like...just maybe help with some chores ..put out hay for the cattle that type of things and you can... again...stay there til you've had your fill?? how does that sound?"
Harold, hearing those words ..sat squirmishly in his seat...this kind of generosity, this wasn't normal?..can I ask you something?...are you a weirdo or what? why on earth would you allow a total stranger into your world?"
Jack, had to chuckle... "nahhh, none of the above Harold" "besides, your wrong about something...it's not my world...it's My Lord's and He's told me to share it with whoever would come and need it...so you see, you wouldn't only be my guest...You're an invited guest of God Almighty"
"ya don't say?" Harold caught himself sarcastically responding... ."I'm sorry..forgive me but not sure I'm much into this God stuff" "that is quite alright Harold, because He is totally about You" "when you hear all He's done for you, you will understand"...
Jack, helped Harold with his bag and drove him out to his farm... .got him all set up and situated ... ."Shower's over there... towels are in here... help yourself to whatever you like... I'll be back to check on you in the morning"
Harold stood stunned and silent as he watched Jack drive off into the night... .."why? why so kind? and why so kind to me?"
Jack, driving off into the distance..could barely see the road for the tears that were pouring out of Him. His heart breaking as God the Father...allowed Jack to share what He too was feeling. HURT and DESIRE to see this precious lost and lonely soul find what his heart longed for
"Father" Jack cried..."Please, Let Your Will be done ..Please touch Harold's life in a way that only you can"
As Harold prayed those words...deep inside him ..he heard these words..."I AM and I will..the heart you have for Harold is not of you...it's of ME...I am moving in You and will continue to do so..I have loved Him with an everlasting love...trust and obey me...and you will see My Glory"
Realizing He was hearing directly from His Heavenly Father... Jack pulled his car aside the road..and got out and Just lifted his hands towards the star-lighted night and began to worship .."Thank You Jesus"..."Thank You for moving in me Lord..thanks for Your Heart that None should Perish..Thanks for HOPE..and Mercy and Grace and Your Goodness that leads us to TURN TO YOU" "And thanks for BEING THERE"
Meanwhile... a few miles back to the east...at the old farm house... Harold studying his new surroundings...slowly paced the house..staring at old family pictures ... coming to one picture in particular ..Harold froze in his tracks...quickly lifting it up off the end table...
It was a picture of Jack dressed in military gear...and the frame surrounding it was the outstretched arms of Jesus... and there laying beside the picture was an old book that said "prayer journal" Harold, looking around sheepishly as knowing he, in great curiosity was about to invade a private space...but having to know what the book contained ..opened and read
"Jack's first day at War... "Dear Lord, with great angst I write this prayer...Heavenly Father I realize you know all too well what it means to send a son into harm's way...and I thank you so much for the fact that you sent your Only Son to die for me and my famiily...but Lord I fear I fall way short in that as I watched my son board the plane to fly into harm's way...I so did NOT want to let him go...but realize the duty and the call BUT this I do beg to ask...that knowing Your word says You send Angels charge over us...I BEG YOU NOW Lord, that each and every moment that my son is over there that You Oh Lord would send angels charge over Him and keep guard over Him and bring Him home safe and sound...In Jesuus Name... Amen"
Harold scanned through the pages...day 20, day 70, day 300, day 365"
"Thank You Lord for keeping Him as you Have...these many days...I continue to stand in the gap and pray that You would continue to stand guard over His Life.."Spirit, Soul, and Body"
Year 2..."THANK YOU JESUS... ..JACK'S COMING HOME!!!" "ALIVE" "They told me had the bullet been any closer ...he'd be dead...but by some miracle he's alive... I know by whom that miracle was wrought Lord... and all I can say is THANK YOU JESUS!!!"
Harold studied the journal..."Must be nice" he thought..."wish someone had been praying for me like that" choking back tears...profound loneliness TRYING to invade Harold's thoughts
RING... .RING... RING
There in the kitchen..the telephone was ringing... .Harold paused but decided to answer... ."Hello?" "Hey Harold..so glad you picked up...it's Jack...forgot if I told you about the shower... the cold nob is really the hot and the hot nob is "REALLY THE COLD?" Harold interrupted..lol
"Yeah Yeah" "that's right" ..."well anyway...didn't want you to scald yourself" "well NO, wouldnt want that either...so thanks and hey ..thanks again ..this is mighty kind of you" "well you are very welcome to stay as long as you need... and hey GET A GOOD NIGHTS REST will ya?" "will do" ..."good deal ...talk to ya tomorrow" "K" "later"
Harold hung up the phone ...and again had to ask "why me?"
"ahhhhhhh" big stretch and yawn...Harold sat up ... clean shaven and feeling so refreshed from sleeping in such a comfortable bed... He jumped up and out of bed and ran to take another shower..."wow ...two shower's in two days" "this is The Life" "I could get use to this" but no sooner had those thoughts come, than Harold's pessimistic side kicked in.."who am I kidding...this aint real, this aint for me...this aint mine" depression beginning to settle in once again
walking out of the shower and over to his old shaggy and tattered clothes...Harold realized he was about to put back on his same ole clothes
"KNOCK KNOCK" .."HAROLD YOU AWAKE?" Jack, walking into the house... Holding in his hand a cup of coffee ...and carrying a duffel bag... .smiling ear to ear...startling Harold back to his new reality
"Goodmorning!!! did you sleep well? hope the bed was comfortable, ..hey I brought you some coffee and HERE...hope these fit...I had some clothes that didn't quite fit me that thought might fit you better" "Last years Christmas gift but hey they must think I'm skinnier than I am" "Hide it well I guess"
Harold just sat there stunned...opening the duffel bag to see NEW CLOTHES...something he hadn't worn since God only knows when..."well uhhh yeah ..these should work just fine...if you don't mind I'll step in there and put em on" "oh yes ..by all means please do"
Harold stepped into the bathroom and into the new clothes...taking a look into the mirror... Harold felt a tear on his weathered cheek..."How long?" He tried to remember..."how long since anyone had given him the time of day or taken any kind of notice" feeling so humbled and unworthy but all the while so thankful
stepped out of the bathroom...sheepishly, "well hey ..what can I say but "thanks" "clean up pretty good though I must say that" even allowing himself a chuckle to which Jack responded.."well that's just a start... I've got more clothes that don't fit but it appears they might be "just your size""but say, you must be starving...and I need to get to the restaurant and make sure the morning gets off to a good start for the ladies... how does another "champions breakfast sound?"
"you keep feeding me those, and these clothes might not be my size for too long..but HECK YEAH...how do I say no to that?"
getting into Jack's vehicle, Harold noticed right away the Bible sitting in the tray...a cross hanging from the mirror and a sticky note..."For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord" "to give you a hope and a future"
Jack getting into his seat... .and closing the door..."you sure must be religious?" Harold found himself to say
"I've never taken to religion...didn't reckon it could do me much good" "Your right...it wouldn't do you any good" Harold's eyes grew wide..."why NOT ME?" "Well Religion does NOBODY any good" "but you obviously put it into practice" "you got a bible and you do good deeds"
Jack turned to Harold and looked him straight into the eye...with great compassion... ..It's NOT RELIGION Harold... ."its JESUS!!!" "It's Him that makes me want to do good things and it's Him that I seek...to Know Him... to actually get to Know Him...
Look out there Harold... what do you see?... ..You see the morning sun, the dew, the grass, the trees, the birds..you hear em? The ONE who made all that ...the very one who woke you up this morning and gave you another day... desires that You and I would seek to KNOW HIM...isn't that amazing? And You will want to KNOW HIM ..when You realize all that He's done for YOU!"
"but say, let's get going... breakfast is calling"...
Jack turned the ignition and started down the road... Harold looked out and around him as he drove...Jack's words..reverberating in his mind..."the very one who woke you up this morning and gave you another day ...desires that You and I would seek to Know Him"
"Holy Moly this is awesome" Harold thought to himself as he bit into the sausage... .the biscuits and gravy were better too...eggs, and bacon...this was truly over the top AGAIN
diving in full bore, Harold ate still he could eat no more. Over in the distant corner... .he saw Jack and all his crew huddled in a circle and they were all holding hands and there heads were bowed
"Heavenly Father, we ask that each and every person that would step foot into this place today would sense your presence and know that this place was different...we pray Lord that this would be a place of refuge as we have prayed so many times before... we are believing that this truly is a "table in the wilderness"
In Jesus Name AMEN
the circle broke and the ladies and cook's scattered... but they did so with purpose...and in no short order... .Harold saw Jack heading his way
"well? how's it tasting today?" ... ..Harold again shook his head ..in nodded approval
"GREAT" .."it taste great"
Harold sat in the booth, his stomach full, his heart warming...he watched as he noticed one of the waitresses take a hearty breakfast to what appeared to be a single mom and her three young kids
straining to hear her words... "this breakfast is compliments of the owner...he has said that you are his "very special guest of the day"... .Harold could see the emotion in the mother's face..."thank you thank you" she was saying to the waitress and then Jack walked up alongside the waitress..."mam, just want you to know...The King of all Kings has instructed us to take good care of you today" "Is there anything else we can do or help with?"
The mother began to sob... "I had just prayed ..."God if You are REAL ..please show me" Jack kneeled down to her side and motioned for a couple of other waitresses to come over
"Mam, if you don't mind...I'd like to take this time and not only tell you that YES He is REAL ... I'd also sure like to introduce you to Him...
"And Just wait to hear what all He's done for you!" Harold sat in the distance and watched and listened as Jack told this precious young mother "Before you were even formed in your mother's womb...God Himself had spoken of You...You are His crafty work and you have been fearfully and wonderfully made...and for Years ..The Lord has given you day after day as a gift ...HOPING You would ask "who made me? and who put me here?...There have been many who claimed to be the One who did, but there was ONE in particular who came to this earth, born of a virgin...lived a sinless life, performed many many miracles and announced that You will Put Me to death BUT in three days time I will be Alive Again...and who ever calls upon ME shall Never Die...for I am the Resurrection and the Life and they that believe upon me though they were dead YET shall they Live"
Jack continued on with his plea and then asked permission to Help invite Jesus into Her life
The mother knodded her approval...and Jack and the waitresses formed another circle with the mom... and as Jack closed his eyes... .to begin to pray ...he felt a tap on his shoulder... .It was Harold's hand... "Jack...can I invite Him too??? ... Jack could not contain his emotion and began to sob..."His tears answering Harold's question... MOST CERTAINLY....Emboldened Jack decided to go for broke and invited all of his customer's "Please, if I may...this is a most glorious day... A DAY LIKE NO OTHER... You all are invited to Join us as we Call Upon The Saviour...Your Creator...Jesus Christ... If you too want to Know for Certain that when your time ends upon this Earth that You can and will Have Eternal Life...Please come join this Circle"
Jack through obedience ...witnessed The Glory of God as he was allowed to see God's Spirit move in Him and through Him to touch His world and those around Him...
That night...back at the Old Farm House... "Harold got on his knees and began to "thank Jesus for All that He had done for Him and for bringing him to this town"
Across town, a single mother of three tucked in her young children..."Mommy, since we all asked Jesus into our Heart that means we are going to be family forever?" "Yes Honey...that's what the nice man said...remember? "He said whoever believes in Jesus ..they and there whole household shall be saved for EVER" ..."sooo yes we are going to be family forever" "that's awesome mommy" ...
no sooner than she had pulled the cover's...A LOUD TRUMPET SOUNDED ...FOLLOWED BY A SHOUT
"COME UP HERE"
Into the Celestial Night...Jack, Harold and the single mom and those three children joined millions of believer's worldwide as they ascended ... ..to their glorious destiny
Jack found himself face down ...CRYING HIS HEART OUT... The Glorious Presence of God encompassing them all...
Jesus came and lifted up Jack and brought Him to the Father... "Here He is Father... WELL DONE MY CHILD..."I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink...I was Homeless and you gave me a bed...
Jack broke once again and began to Cry..."when Lord, when did I give you a drink...when did I feed you...
as He stood there shaking and trembling... He felt a tap on his shoulder... It was Harold... ."May I?"
He gave Jack a huge hug and they both wept WITH GREAT JOY... .They Had Made it ..they were ready!