T-shirt Conversation #1: Ready, Set, No Go, Go, No Thanks, Please

You know, you get ready to witness, and God won’t waste any time. I just made these shirts!

Today’s a bit rushed. Last day of school. A billion things to do. Award ceremony to attend. Bills to pay. Blah, blah, blah.

Jeans on, I pause to consider my shirt for the day. Something says, Go to the garage, grab a new shirt. I put on the green one. “Everybody, let’s go!”

My youngest is crying because I won’t let her bring two photo albums to school. Two photo albums I spent hours on, chronicling our trip to Zalaam. Two albums that are special to me for zillions of reasons. Albums I don’t want destroyed on the last day of school. So I say no, and she cries.

I drop the girls off, almost fully intending to go to the bank and deal with the bills.

But Something says, She wants to share that story. She’s ready to do that right now–even if you’re not. Why are you stopping her?

So I go home, pack the albums up in a bag, drive back to the school, hang the bag over my girl’s backpack in her cubby in the hallway, then walk over to the gym for the first assembly. I’m way early, but I’d never make it to the bank before-hand now.

Before the assembly, I tell my little girl that I dropped the books off. She wraps her arms around my neck, “Thank you, Daddy!”

The assembly’s great. My little girl is honored for, “learning to read and write,” and her desire for next year is to, “read and write even more.”

Way to go, kiddo! Proud of you! Reading and writing, like your dad.

“And when she grows up, she wants to be a teacher.”

Well… you don’t have to follow in my footsteps that way. But who knows. Maybe you’ll really enjoy it.

I’m glad I didn’t miss that.

One hour before the next assembly. I take off. Make it to the bank. Inside, the banking line is backed up to the point where it’s no longer on the little walkway path, nor inside the banking stand-in-this-line ropes.

“It’s the wrong day to come to bank,” says a thin, mid-range female voice.

I turn to face her. She’s not even shoulder height, she’s wearing old-lady pink, and I can smell the staleness of cigarette breath. “This line’s not too bad,” I say.

“You’re a young feller,” she lifts her cane for me to see. “You get to be my age and these bones start talking to you. ‘Pain,’ they say.” I wait for her to adjust her glasses on her nose, but she doesn’t. She glares around through crooked frames. “And that’s life.”

“Well, there is the alternative…”

“You mean I drop dead?”

“It’s a reality.”

She starts talking about how her grandparents lived to be 100. “I’m gonna do that,” she says defiantly and tells me her age.

I don’t have to glance her over. I know she won’t make it. Too thin. Too many veins showing. Too much damage done.

After a few minutes, a bank manager comes out to help lessen the line. Then another manager. “I’ve been banking here for six years. I’ve never seen that,” the smokey voice says.

One of the managers asks if I can be helped. No, I need to stay in line. “But maybe you could help this woman,” I offer.

The manager escorts her to an office.

I stand in line, pay my bill, say, “Happy Wednesday,” to the teller, and turn to find the old woman leaning against the wall outside an office door. Her complaint is that the cable company is billing her for months she knows she paid. She always pays her bills. Always.

I let her talk, asking God, If You sent me to her, how do I transition?

Bam! No sooner have I prayed that then she cuts herself off, stops to read my shirt and says, “So you’re religious?”

“Well… I’m more relationship oriented, but I understand how you’re asking. Sure. Yeah.”

“I went to Sunday school when I was a girl. And I did Girls Group–” and, and, and her list goes on. She’s got all these ‘good things’ she’s done, but when I was letting her vent about the cable bill she was telling me, “It’s a good thing the bank manager is on the phone with my cable company, because they’d get an earful from me! I curse worse than a trucker!”

So I let her go on and on again, waiting for the defences to drop.

“But I’ve got questions,” she suddenly says. “Like, ‘Who wrote the Bible?’ Isn’t it just some made-up story?” and, and, and.

I take her back to her first question and talk about the various authors and historical accuracy. But just a little. She doesn’t really want the answer.

“Every time the movie the Ten Commandments comes on the TV, I watch it.”

About then the bank manager comes out and calmly explains with the help of a printed-off record, the transactions and payments this woman has and has not made. I turn slightly away, but don’t leave. The truth? The woman had missed a few months.

“How’d that happen?”

The bank manager politely points to the itemizing lines. It happened. She has a debt she hasn’t paid. And it’s big.

I walk the woman to her car and hold the door for her as she struggles to get in. “Do you have a Bible?”

“No, and I don’t want one,” she’s firm about it. “There’s something that holds us all together, but if there’s a God, I want to see Him! Then I’ll believe.”

Calmly, thoughtfully I suggest, “Ma’am, it could be that this whole event today is a picture from God. You have a debt that you don’t know about, and God is trying to show you it hasn’t been paid–”

“I’m a good person,” she interrupts.

“It’s not about what we do, Ma’am. It’s about what Jesus did for us.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard about that.”

“It’d be a good idea to meet God and settle accounts before you–”

“Die and meet Him?”

But she doesn’t want to meet God now. She’s already told me her plan for the day. Get her shopping done, go home, watch TV and get drunk on wine.

I sadly let her go.

I make it back to school in time for the next assembly. My other daughter has earned an award for throwing shot put and placing in the district-wide track meet. I was at the meet and watched her throw. I’m proud of her. I want to see her get her ribbon.

Before getting out of my car, I pray for the woman to hear God and heed this possible last chance to accept God’s payment for her debt. She doesn’t realize she doesn’t want what she’s earned.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There’s One Way to heaven, God made that way known, and He will continue to do so. Even to those who don’t want to hear it. Even to those who’ve heard, and known, and rejected Him, and are still rejecting Him.

Are you anywhere on that list? Are you hearing Him now?

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