I finished my business in Dallas early this afternoon and headed back to the airport for the flight home. I arrived at the security line and was immediately distracted by a woman who was complaining to the TSA agent about the security rules. As you undoubtedly know, those folks don’t have much of a sense of humor; and the agent was getting fed up. It was apparent that things were about to escalate. I encouraged the passenger to move on, and she did. Anyway, I spoke with her for a moment after we both went through the scanner, and then I headed to the American Admirals Club to wait for the boarding call. I was deep in thought and not paying too much attention to my surroundings.
Then, a funny thing happened. I passed a shoe shine stand – you know, the kind you see in any major airport these days. A man was hawking shines, kind of like you would hear at a carnival, and kept asking people passing by, “Shine – need a shine?” Although I was pre-occupied, I must have heard him and glanced down at my shoes. I had thought about a shine before I left Indy yesterday, but since I ordered a new pair of shoes over the week-end, I decided to pass. As I looked down, the fellow yelled out to me, “If you have to look down, it’s time for a shine!” I stopped in my tracks – and started laughing. As I kept staring at my shoes, I said, “You know – you’re right – I need a shine.” I turned around, looked up and saw a big man with one of the kindest smiles I have ever seen.
So I hopped up in the chair, kind of like a throne, and introduced myself to Charles – shoe shine guy extraordinaire. And the first question I got asked was whether I worked for the Big Guy. I kind of wondered where he was going with that question, but he added, “You know – the Lord.” I was a little stunned, to say the least. Anyway, Charles and I struck up a conversation and by the end of the shine, I had heard his entire conversion testimony. And it was really great.
He is 58 years old (same age I am) and accepted the Lord when he was 49. But what a story! He was a drug addict and was in the shower one day when he felt the urge to attend church. He brushed off the feeling, but the same thing happened the next two days as he was getting ready for work. That week-end, his son invited him to church, he grudgingly attended, broke down in tears, and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. According to what he told me, he hasn’t had a drink or used drugs since then. In fact, today, nine years later, he is Chairman of the Deacon Board of his church and is responsible for overseeing the needs of the congregation and the pastor.
Like most of us, Charles tried to bargain with God in the beginning. He tried to negotiate using drugs and drinking; but, according to him, God wouldn’t budge. If Charles didn’t want to do it God’s way, then he was free to not follow the Lord. But God reminded Charles that the family had returned and healed, that Charles was sober and drug free; and that he had a job at the airport. So life with the Lord wasn’t so bad after all. Charles committed himself and now uses his shoe shine stand as a way to reach people for Christ.
So, Charles spends each day talking about the Lord while he shines shoes. I’m sure he turns some people off, but he has quite the captive audience to reach people in the hopes that they will find the divine peace he has experienced. In fact, there was nobody after me today, so we continued our talk and spent more than twenty minutes together – and it was a great shine, on top of everything else. Charles did say one thing about being called to Christ. He believes that God doesn’t call us when He is ready; but when we are ready to consider accepting Him. In his words, Charles believes that the Lord is always ready – so the hold up in getting saved is us. Charles is quite the armchair theologian. And now, his son is struggling, so Charles believes his next task is to be there for his son. Not a bad idea. In fact, he believes the Lord may have used his son to save him; and now will use Charles to rescue his wayward son. Kind of a God-sized plan. And you know what? He never stopped smiling the whole time we spoke – a real attitude of service.
Tonight’s verse is from Rev. 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Pretty self explanatory. God will call each of us, and we have, through the agency of free will, the opportunity to answer the call, or not. And I have to admit that I was skeptical of Charles’s story in the beginning, but then again, what do I know? Those of you who know me must acknowledge that I am about the last person in the world God would call to enter a life of ministry. So anything is possible – and the same is true with Charles; and with you.
My encouragement tonight is to answer the call you feel on your life from God. And my prayer is that He will use you in mighty ways that are far beyond whatever you can even dream about. Because we serve a big God. And instead of looking down, look up! Grace and Peace,