Tuesday, February 10, 2009
'Prophets' of a Sort - Black
It was not at all unusual that I should be the last to finish eating, since I’m a notoriously slow eater, the master of the thirty-two-chew brigade – and that’s just the jelly! And there I sat again, the last of over one hundred men to swallow my final morsel. I had company, though. All had left the dining hall except one white-haired fellow sitting opposite me, just taking a little time to let his dinner settle. The exposed areas of his bearded face revealed deep lines. His voice, gruff and gravelly, but his manner, pleasant.
Hmm. Probably about sixty-nine at the younger end. Maybe more likely seventy-three or four, I mused. Then I initiated conversation.
“Are you still in the workforce?” was my play-it-safe intention. But no, abandoning caution, I actually ventured, “Are you in retirement?”
“Lord, no,” he said. “How I wish! Coupla’ years t’go ... I’ll soon turn sixty-three. I’m a trucker.”
I’ve no idea how successfully I camouflaged my surprise, but did manage to swallow the mouthful of water I’d just sucked in during his reply, without rudely expelling it all over the place.
He resumed, “Now, I’m not saying you look old or anything, But I’d say you were seventy-three or four.”
What? It was just as well I hadn’t taken another swig from my glass!
“Actually, Lord sparing me, I’ll be sixty-four in the spring,” I responded, my face in a wide grin, chuckling lightly at the incongruity of it all. The joke was on me–not that any was intended.
My trucker table companion was more a prophet in the matter than I, a preacher. He’d voiced to me what I had thought regarding him! I still smile when I think of that encounter. Smile that in the silence of my thoughts I’d looked on the outward appearance and gauged him to be so much older than he was, and he, in his spoken thoughts, revealed that he’d done exactly the same thing of me.
My thoughts ran on. I wonder if he knows the Lord and attends a church fellowship somewhere. As our conversation unfolded, I learned that this man had been long afflicted with back trouble, constantly exacerbated by his trucking duties. The pain was unbearable. He had difficulty facing the rigours of his work. Someone invited him to attend a service in a St. Thomas, Ontario, church. Prayer was offered for the sick. He stood in his place between the pews, in agony. However, the moment came when, right on the spot where he stood, he realized the pain was gone. Gone. Incredible! He could hardly believe it. But believe it he did. The Spirit of God had touched him.
That man (I don’t recall his name) became a firm believer in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and now gathers regularly with others to give thanks to the One who healed his back and brought him into a personal relationship of peace with God, with the joy of the Lord in his soul.
He’s still truckin’ on, and I’m still engaging in conversations with people and writing slices of their stories, giving them a voice–or, let’s say, another voice – so that they can speak to a different audience than in the everyday context of their lives. I guess that my white haired, gravel-voiced table-talk friend and I are both prophets of a sort, after all.
Peter writes a weekly column in the Watford Guide Advocate
His first book "Parables from the Pond" was published by
Word Alive Press in 2008
Written for children, read and enjoyed by all ages.
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