Author: Timothy Roettger
There was a chill in the air, and I was cold walking through the dark empty streets wearing only tattered cloths that didn’t provide me much warmth. And I was scared. Where was I going to go? What was I going to do? The only thing breaking the eerie silence was the moaning of my empty stomach. It had been awhile since I had anything nourishing to eat. For longer then I can remember my sole purpose for living was to survive. Day to day I had done all I could to find a reason to keep on going.
This night was a night that I had given up. I had tried one to many times to fill the emptiness. And this time the emptiness only grew. I found a cold quiet corner in a dark ally and sat down and curled myself up in a ball. I had wandered through the harshness of life one to many times. Tried one to many solutions and had it all not work out. This was the time I was prepared to give up. I had nothing and no one, the only people I had ever had turned on me for their own selfishness. The ones that I once called friends. I remember I went to sleep that night, expecting to wake up and die the next morning. No thoughts went through my head, and my own mind had the same eerie silence that my surroundings had and there was only the dark sense of death in the air. I don’t remember how I fell asleep that night. And I don’t remember how I got to the warm bed that I was in the next day. On the bottom corner of the bed sat a pile of nice warm cloths. The room was nice and warm. It was a clean room, the type of room a man like me wasn’t usually allowed in. There were times that people had pity on me but the most that they would do was allow me to sleep in the cellar with some leftovers as food. There was a note on a small table next to the bed. It stated to feel free to take a shower and change into the new cloths and that someone named J.C. would be in to talk with me a bit latter. Well I didn’t know who this J.C. was but I did know it had been awhile since I had a shower or change of cloths. I noticed that there was a private bathroom with a shower in my room. It was all I could do to stay still. I grabbed the change of cloths and ran for the shower. I don’t know how long I took for that shower, but it felt like heaven. As I dried off and got dressed in the new cloths, I couldn’t help but to wonder what was expected of me. What did this person want from me? Did they know what type of person I was? I put all these thoughts aside for now and finished dressing. As I looked at myself in the mirror I couldn’t help wondering who this person was that I was looking at. I did not even recognize what I had become.
As I walked out of the bathroom door I was a bit sad and remembering all that I once was, and realizing what I had now become. Then I noticed the man sitting in a chair. He had the most loving face, and genuine smile I had ever seen, but I had learned the lesson of trusting that in the past. The man stood and reached out to shake my hand. "Welcome, we are pleased to have you here. My father wants me to extend his welcome as well." Said the man. "Call me J.C."
I cautiously met J.C.’s hand with mine. I can only wonder what sense of concern was on my face for this man to say what he said next. "Don’t worry. We don’t want anything from you. You are our guest. We want you to just relax and rest up. We took the liberty of buying some cloths in your size and we will be serving breakfast shortly, father would like you to come. But feel free to just grab something from the kitchen if you want."
I couldn’t even manage a thank you. All I could think was what is this going to cost me. What was going to happen? I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I had heard too many promises and kind words only to be stabbed or walked on when someone’s ambition or selfishness came into play. The man just looked at me and smiled and patted me on the shoulder as he walked past. I decided then that I wouldn’t take more from these people then what I earned. I wouldn’t get run over this time.
I didn’t accept the invitation to breakfast, it didn’t feel right. So I went down to the kitchen to see what there was. I noticed a man bringing dishes into the kitchen and placing them on the counter to be washed. I went over and decided this would be a way to earn my way. So I walked over and began to wash the dishes. When I came to the dishes that breakfast was served in, noticed that there was still some left so I dished myself up something to eat. If it was going to be thrown out then surely this is what I deserved. After all these people didn’t know what kind of man I was. I was trying to spare them as well as I for when they find out, they would surely throw me out. I was nothing. A man without value or worth. A man with nothing to give. I remember even just the leftovers seemed like such a feast to me. Such fine food. And it was more than I had eaten in a long time. For the next few weeks I went along eating this way. It didn’t bother me, although some of the people in the house really treated me harshly. They were disgusted by it. But if they only knew how I had lived prior to coming here they would have understand that this was like eating as royalty to me. I would do whatever I could to clean around the house. Offer my services when ever possible. Some were all too happy to have me do their job for them and I was all too happy to try. Yet every time J.C. saw me, he would extend his invitation for me to dine at the table with him and his father. I had not yet met the father and wasn’t sure I wanted to, the idea of him made me nervous and a bit scared. I did not want to give him the wrong impression, or see who I really was and throw me out into the cold street again. I guess somehow I figured that if I just kept my distance that he would not be able to see the type of man that I was, that he would not be able to see who I really am.
Then one-day things started to change. I don’t remember how long I went the way I did, but somehow things never seemed enough. No matter how much I did, I couldn’t live up to what these people had done for me. And there was still that since of worry, wondering what these people wanted from me. Then on this day, I woke up to do what had become my job here. Once I had walked into the kitchen I had noticed that the dishes were already done, the kitchen was clean and everything was put away. Only a plate was on the counter, a plate full of a wonderfully looking hot breakfast. Only a short note was with it. It was addressed to me and said only "won’t you dine with my father and I for lunch today?" I could not. I was frightened; did they want to kick me out? Did the find out what manner of man I was? Many shades of fear rushed my soul that day. I can’t begin to tell you how afraid I was. I began to walk around the house hoping to find anything that needed to be taken care of no matter how small or large. But that day was just a day where everywhere I turned there was nothing to do. Lunch came around and again I went to the kitchen to do what had become my routine, again the work was all done and on the counter was a plate full of food with a simple message written by J.C. stating "My father would be very pleased if you would join us for dinner. Please come." I hurriedly ate the meal; I figured that I might not be eating like this again for a while. After I spent the afternoon looking for more work to do. Dinner came and fear had gripped my soul, and I was not able to get myself to go to dinner to meet the father. Instead I tried to follow my usual rituals. This time when I went into the kitchen to do my work, I found that it was all done for me again, and there on the counter sat J.C. and next to the counter there was a small table with three seats set up. At one seat sat a man with the gentlest face and the warmest smile, but the man carried such a presence about him. I slowly walked up to the counter and J.C. quickly jumped up with such a smile and this time he did not reach for my hand. He put his arm around me and guided me to the table. There He introduced me to the father. "I would like you to meet my father, he has been wanting to meet you for some time now." I reached out to shake the hand of the father but instead he got up and threw his arms around me and gave me the biggest warmest hug. It was there in his arms that I felt love for the first time. I began to weep loudly, so much that I could not contain it. I was a man so unworthy of this and finally I could not live this lie anymore. I had to tell these people what manner of man I was.
"Sir…" I managed to stutter, "I know you mean well, but you don’t know what kind of man I am. I am rotten, worthless. There is nothing in me worth anything. I am an evil man." It was here with this man I knew only as father that I felt that more then ever. "There is so much I have done wrong and so much I owe. I have done so much wrong that my debt cannot be paid."
Then Jesus walked over to my side and put his arms around me again. And said "I do know the things you have done, and the debts you owe. I have paid them for you. As for the evil that you say you are. I have sought to change that in you to, and can if you will only receive. We want you to be apart of our family. You see you are worth something to us. We desire the pleasure of you company. We love to be around you, and have been saddened by not being able to dine with you. To rejoice with you hand commune with you. Will you be apart of our family?"
"I could only break down and cry. I feel to my knees and began to weep with all I am. The Love that I had felt in this place. And now they wanted me to be part of their family, they didn’t want anything in return, and looking in their eyes, for the first time I truly believed this. I was so moved. I could only cry out "Why me?" Then the father bent down on his knees with me and put his arm around me. With one hand he lifted my head and the other he dried my tears and said, "Because we love you." I accepted their offer that day. I have never had a closer friend, a closer brother, and I never knew a father until this. From this time on, I made a point to do whatever I could around the place. I would work and serve with all I was. Not because I had to in order to earn my way. It was just something I wanted and liked to do. One time my father stopped me and asked me why. I could only answer, "Because I love you."