The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Cor 9:15 NIV
I met a man who had given his country the gift of his faithful service. Dennis was 19 when he signed up to serve our country. He fought in Viet Nam. He came back to America to go to school on the GI Bill. His fist day of college, the professor had everyone introduce themselves and tell a little about their lives. When Dennis told his story the professor said, “Why don’t you come to the front of the room and demonstrate how to bayonet a baby?”
“Thank you for serving for us,” I said. “I’m so sorry that America didn’t treat you better when you came home. I entered college in 1970. I remember what professors said about the war and the soldiers. It was terrible. I had a cousin in Viet Nam and I got so angry.”
I met Dennis in the Charlotte KOA Campground. He was there to help a friend with their gun display at an NRA Tradeshow. Dennis had recently retired from a 35-year career as a fire fighter in Chicago and was spending his retirement traveling the country and living in campgrounds. He was single with no children.
“Many of the Viet Nam Vets have had a hard time,” I said. “That war seemed harder on our solders than the others. Maybe it was because of how they were treated when they returned.”
“The average World War 2 Vet saw front line combat 30-40 days during their enlistment. We saw it almost every day for the entire time we were enlisted,” Dennis said. “You can be under that much stress for only so long without it damaging you. I had nightmares for years.”
“Did it make you cynical about your country?” I asked.
“Not my country but it made me cynical about people. People do stupid things.”
“The people I’ve met also tell me that it made them have a hard time with the concept of God,” I said.
“Recently, I was in the hospital. The doctor came in and told me I had a spot on my lung and they were going to give me chemo. He walked out. The next thing that happened was a Chaplin walked in to pray with me. Next, a priest came in. Then a Rabbi. Wait – I'm not done. A Cleric came in. I figured I was covered on the prayer thing. God had heard from all sides. I was just glad a Buddhist didn't come in. The Buddhist would have told me to try to accept it and I didn’t want to accept it.”
“So did you have cancer?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “It turned out to be a lung infection. I still had a hard time. 12 weeks of antibiotics shut down my kidneys. Then it left me with 6 weeks of gout.”
“How are you now?”
“OK,” he said. “My foot still hurts.”
“It sounds like those prayers are working. If you had to pick, which of those religious brands would have worked for you?”
“I guess the priest. I don’t think any of them have it all right.”
“I have a real simple definition when I ask people if they are a Christ follower. Do they believe in the God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do they believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the son of God? Have they confessed their mistakes and asked Jesus into their life? Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus, not a religion. The religion might come later but it starts with a relationship. Are you active in the Catholic church?”
“Semi,” he said, pondering what I’d said.
It was time to go. I prayed about what to give him. The answer came and I walked to the car. I grabbed my book, The Secret to Dealing With Pain and Related Depression. It dealt with pain and contained the way to Jesus.
I walked back over and handed him the book and a card with a quarter in it. “The quarter represents the free grace of God. It is a gift. All you have to do is ask Jesus into your life. He makes everything better. This is a copy of my pain book. I don’t think you’re depressed but you mentioned pain.”
“Thanks,” he said, looking pleased. “May I make a donation or something?”
“This book is a gift. We live off of donations but this book is a gift.”
He opened his wallet and pulled out a $20 bill.
“You don’t have to do this,” I insisted. “This was a gift.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” he said. “I don’t do anything I don’t want to. I want to give you this.”
I knew I had to accept his gift so I took it. I prayed he would accept the real gift that the book told about.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.
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