Tag Archive for: believers

What do saints look like? Would you be surprised to know they look a lot like you? Saints are not carved in stone in Rome. Those are merely statues. The apostles called the church members of their day “saints.” People like you and me. The word simply means “set apart for God’s service.” “Venerated.”
Saint Billy walked into a church service where I was the pastor. He sat down on the back row after I had already begun preaching, and almost instantly he was crying. As soon as I dismissed, he slipped out and was gone! Ushers had missed him.
I was a young, new pastor building a new church. I needed people! We didn’t get his name or contact info. It bugged me that we had no way of contacting him.
The next Sunday, after I had begun my sermon, he slipped in again, and, as before, he began to cry quietly. And we missed him again! I told my ushers if he ever came back to tackle him. The third Sunday in a row he came, and we were prepared. Needlessly, it turned out, because this time he stayed. He wanted to speak to the pastor, and he invited me to breakfast the next morning.
We met, and after brief introductions, he told me a story. He was a truck driver. Khaki-wearing, calloused-hands truck driver. He drove a regular route, knew his customers along the way. A few months ago he and a waitress had carried their usual flirting to the next step. They decided that they would hook up on his return trip and spend the night together in a hotel down the street.
He was excited as he pulled out of the parking lot to start his run, but he was also nervous. He had never cheated on his wife. He wondered what his kids would think if they ever found out. By the time he reached the ramp to the interstate, he was already regretting his hasty, lustful decision. Aloud in his truck, he groaned and said something like, “Lord, what have I done?”
Almost immediately a bright light blinded him. The light filled the cab of his truck. And then, he told me, he knew it was Jesus! This blinding light Jesus told him he was forgiven, told him to simply not stop at the truck stop on his way home, and told him to bless his family, take them to church, and He would bless Billy. Wow, I thought, glancing at my watch. Then, the punch. “When the light vanished, I was gripping the wheel, and an exit sign was coming up. I knew my route. I had driven 45 miles and never knew it. Jesus was in control.”
I was polite. I glanced at my watch again. I was ready to move on. He must be a wacko. “I started visiting churches when I got home,” he continued. “But… He… wasn’t there. Each week I would visit a different church, but I knew what He felt like, and He wasn’t there. Until I visited your church three weeks ago. I slipped in and sat down, and the minute I sat down, He sat down beside me.”
Well, now I’m starting to like this guy. After all, if Jesus is promoting my church, who am I to argue? He came three weeks in a row to be sure. Now he wanted to know if he could bring his family to my church. So he and his family began attending my church.
A few months later, I received a phone call from a local hospital. Billy’s son was in a life-or-death battle. He had gone to school with a headache. A fellow student offered him an aspirin. In second period, his headache persisted, so the friend gave him 3 or 4 aspirin. Only they weren’t aspirin. The boy had taken some Valium from his mother’s medicine cabinet. He let another friend in on the prank, as they called it. By the time auto shop class came around, Billy’s boy had swallowed a dozen or more Valium, and he was barely standing.
The kids hid him from the teacher, treating him like he was drunk. Someone had a vial of acid used on some battery experiments, and he grabbed it like orange juice and chugged it before anyone could react. He collapsed instantly, bleeding, and unconscious. An ambulance sped him to the hospital.
The boys confessed. Billy’s son was in a precarious state. They needed to pump his stomach, but they could not risk anything in his esophagus because the acid had eroded his throat and esophagus. Basically, they were siphoning off blood and waiting to see if he would wake up.
At some point a doctor mentioned 12 hours, and Billy noted that as if it was gospel. Twelve hours later, with no change, he begged the doctor for any kind of hope. The doctor just told him they had to wait for him to overcome the drugs. Twelve more hours. They were just stalling, but Billy was counting the hours.
Somewhere between 24 and 36 hours, after a doctor had already warned that even if he pulls through he may not be able to speak, Billy asked me to come back to the hospital. He knelt on one side of the boy’s bed, and asked me to kneel on the other. He reached his arms across the boy’s body and asked me to reach over and interlock our arms across the boy’s chest. I did. The nurses were awkward. Everyone was awkward. This was the most desperate father ever! He wailed. He cried. He prayed. He reminded God of His goodness. He begged.
Finally, he released his grip on me, and we stood and embraced. No change in the boy. Long after I had left, a nurse was checking the monitors, and a voice behind her said, “I’m thirsty!” She turned to see who it was, and it was the high school boy himself, sitting up, staring at her. He wondered where he was, then repeated, “I’m thirsty.”
She ran out in the hallway and yelled for the doctor whom she knew was just a few rooms down. He came running, probably assuming the boy had died. When he walked into the room, he said he couldn’t believe it. He didn’t know anything to do at the moment but put a tongue depressor in his mouth and look at the throat that wasn’t supposed to be speaking. He turned around amazed. “The boy says he’s hungry,” he exclaimed, wiping a tear. “Somebody run across the street and get this boy a hamburger.”
And they did. And he ate all of it, and drank the coke they brought with it. No evidence of acid. No death. No funeral. Just a truck-driver dad laying his arms across his boy, reminding God of His goodness, and begging a little.
A saint, if you please. A saint in khakis.
An ordinary man. Like you.